Some of the most meaningful partnerships will take years to fully be realized. In my first year as the Chief Technology Officer in Dublin Unified, I had the opportunity to work alongside the Director of Facilities Kim McNeely. In our first introductory meeting, we immediately hit it off as we discovered that we were approaching our work in very much the same way: a focus on students.
In many districts, Facilities departments do not always collaborate with Technology departments on capital projects. More often than not, they rely on outside consultants and contractors to establish infrastructure needs and oversee all elements of installation and configuration. In Dublin Unified for the past 3+ years, this has not been the case.
Within my first year, I was able to participate in a charrettes (brainstorming process) which brought together key stakeholders around the community + educators to set the needs list for a new school. In that same first year, we opened an elementary school while simultaneously planning the opening of another school that would be followed within three years. Coming aboard towards the end of one finished project and at the very beginning of another was an invaluable opportunity.
I was granted full access to all Facility department stuff to ensure that we could meet Facilities needs in a timely fashion. Cross-department budgets were created and followed with procedures put into place guaranteeing no overlap of effort. Ongoing open communication and pathways insured that milestones on the project were met by the Technology department. By having a voice and a seat at the table, Technology department staff were far more engaged and invested as projects progressed.
In the fourth part of the series on partnerships, I believe this example has been the most successful on the topic. If leaders across departments can sit at the table together, learn how to infuse their practice within one another’s departments, and streamline needs, students win.
Working on tasks toward a common goal is not to be confused with partnering. In a partnership, key staff will set aside time to build relationships, compromise often, and if really bold, take on some of one another’s duties. Similar to a marriage right? In it together, not alongside one another. I encourage you to establish partnerships with all departments in your district to better serve the needs of our very important customers: students.