Dr. Guy Sconzo has seen a lot of changes in his over 40 years in education. Most recently, during his tenure as the superintendent of Humble ISD for over 15 years, the district grew from 23,000 to over 41,000 students. “By and large, we tracked everything with a spreadsheet. That’s a lot of moving parts to keep track of when you’re looking at building 14 new campuses. I’m not saying it was the worst way to do it, but making the ongoing changes, keeping up with the accuracy of edits and new information, and only having limited access was challenging.”
As the Executive Director of the Fast Growth School Coalition for Texas, Dr. Guy Sconzo is an expert on the latest developments that provide school district’s with the proper tools to track and manage their bond programs. The FGSC advocates on behalf of the school districts to ensure delivery of first class education for both students and taxpayers. To be identified as a fast-growth school district the following criteria must be met:
- Enrollment of at least 2,500 students during the previous school year; and
- Enrollment growth over the last five years of at least 10%, or
- A net increase of 3,500 or more students.
Dr. Sconzo learned about Owner Insite (OI) and BondPlanner after he retired from Humble ISD, but is an avid supporter of both software platforms’ capabilities. “My knee jerk reaction was ‘Gosh, I wish I’d had these tools when I was sitting in the superintendent chair!’ ”
OI was first developed as an easy-to-learn, easy-to-use software which assists owners with tracking of their construction projects. OI is particularly fitted for school districts because it’s extremely cost efficient - it does not charge per project or user license, but rather provides an option for a very cost-effective annual license fee for unlimited users on unlimited projects. This gives school districts the option to use it on all types of projects and have all stakeholders involved in documenting and tracking critical project data, rather than limiting the use of the software to only large budget projects and a few users.
“Their tool is important for any school district that’s considering a construction project, whether it’s new construction or an addition or a renovation, or whether it’s a fast growth district or not. To have a tool that allows you, in a click, track all of the events and all of the documentation associated with the project, that’s just invaluable,” said Dr. Sconzo.
BondPlanner was developed to further aid school districts in the planning stages of their projects. The software provides a host of capabilities, such as a catalogue of all the district’s campuses, their building systems and lifecycles, replacement costs and provides cost projections years into the future based on their projected needs and associated costs. BondPlanner also provides the ability for school districts to perform their own facility assessments to inform the overall capital plan. Additionally, the district can import data from a third party vendor that has done a facility assessment.
“It’s the norm for our districts to be on a ballot every two to three years with a bond referendum due to the speed of growth. That exacerbates the challenge of record keeping and tracking projects,” said Dr. Sconzo. “Then after the project are complete, there is the challenge of being able to access warranty information and replacement. These tools answer this continuous cycle”.
Multiple FGSC are using OI and Bond Planner, such as Allen ISD and Northwest ISD. Their use and support are due to the software’s specific development for school districts as well as their understanding of the specific challenges faced by these rapidly growing areas.
“OI and BondPlanner enables you to access information, sort information, and query it very quickly. It’s essential when you’re moving at a fast pace and need to get your hands on the documents,” said Dr. Sconzo.
“In my opinion, these tools pay for themselves in a short period of time. I don’t know of any other product that provides this level of support at the bond planning stage and is able to transition through construction and after ownership,” said Dr. Sconzo.