Dallas Independent School District
Fleet maintenance for the nation's 12th largest school district
Paul Burke, fleet maintenance field supervisor
With 160,000 students and 250 facilities spread over 350 sq. mi., the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) has a large and widely varied fleet of 550 vehicles that includes vans, pickups, refrigerated trucks, dump trucks, construction equipment and trailers, as well as some 1,600 powered lawnmowers and weed-eaters. Maintaining such a varied fleet is certainly a challenge and keeping a suitable parts inventory poses problems of major magnitude.
Add taxpayer interest in downsizing government operations through privatization, and the need for efficiency and solid record keeping to document that efficiency become key requirements for running a successful maintenance operation.
While DISD has used computerized systems in its maintenance operations since 1987, the recant move to Windows-based FleetMaint from DPSI “makes it easy for me to keep very detailed records for the state,” says Paul Burke, the district's fleet maintenance field supervisor. “Each year auditors want to know how much money we spent combating vandalism, replacing tires and performing maintenance”
Converting to the new system took some time and effort, especially “making the transition from hard copy records for VINs and equipment serial numbers,” says Burke. But by reverifying VINs every time a vehicle comes in for service and requiring smaller equipment to have a bar-code inventory label before it can be serviced, the district has managed to establish an accurate database.
As for inventory, DISD no longer operates a parts room or owns inventory of any kind. Instead, NAPA has opened an outlet in the district's service shop, selling it parts at a discount as they are needed. “That's $187,000 worth of inventory they own until they put it on the counter and we install it,” says Burke.
The outsourcing is an especially efficient solution because NAPA can enter all parts used directly into the work orders generated by FleetMaint. “We then simply enter the labor and check the accuracy of the parts charges,” says Burke.
“I preach to my employees that if we don't do the job efficiently, DISD might decide to privatize,” says Burke. “To prevent that, we need to take care of our paperwork. And the only way to do that is through a work-order tracking system.”
Just recently, two state auditors took just such a look, spending weeks going over the shop's records to determine whether it might be best to privatize the operation. “We were able to give them the reports they needed in a simple Excel file,” says Burke. After comparing DISD costs to similar school districts, “both of them concluded that we were doing as well or better than the others without privatizing,” he says.