Disa was nominated by Lisa Menard, Secretary to the Danbury ISD Superintendent, Eric V. Grimmett.
“My 2012 Healthy Schools Hero is Mrs. Disa Schulze. I have worked with Disa for more than twelve years and she continues to be my inspiration daily.
NOBODY works as hard and tirelessly as Disa. She is the most committed and dedicated individual I have ever worked with. When I think about things like the New London school explosion, I always think about what good hands our students and staff are in here at Danbury…I can’t imagine that anybody would take care of our school district as well as she does…
Disa grew up in Danbury and graduated from Danbury High School. She has raised three children in these schools and continues to show how much she cares for every aspect of our school district…
She is very safety conscious and genuinely caring for our students, our staff, our parents and whether they are in our buildings, in our vehicles, etc. Disa devotes herself and is available to any and all 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Our cafeterias and facilities are models for other school districts in regards to cleanliness, safety, and compliance. Our coaches have literally been spoiled by her knowledge and ability to take care of our sport venues and equipment. Our Regional Education Center (Region 4) in Houston, Texas, has sought out Disa’s expertise in the area of food service reporting...”
Janet A. Hurley, MPA, Extension Program Specialist II - School IPM, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Southwest Technical Resource Center writes, "Disa Schulze has been an advocate and educator for student health for many years. In her role as Support Services Director, she has also overseen the district’s integrated pest management program (IPM). Disa has taken this state mandated program and turned it into a student health program, making sure that all the buildings at Danbury ISD are free from pests and pesticides. Disa is a true Healthy Schools Hero." [Added March 13, 2012]
The Danbury Way
Superintendent Grimmett says, “An advantage of being such a small district is that there are no layers. There is a sense of coordination and efficiency. Central office meets as a team, twice a month. We identify needs and solve problems together. There are a lot of things we can’t do because of our size, but a lot of things we can do. Disa wears lots of hats. And, we benefit from Disa’s institutional knowledge that goes back to her days being a student in Danbury. Her job touches everyone every day.”
According to Superintendent Grimmett, Danbury is the poster child for doing more with less. It is a small poor town with 735 students (grades PreK-12) and can be proud of an attendance rate of 96.72%.
Safety is non-negotiable
“We live in a low tax, low service state so we need to be good stewards of taxpayers’ money. Out of eight school districts in the county, Danbury has the lowest school tax rate. 82% of budget is personnel. There is a cap on the maintenance and operations tax rate.
But safety is non-negotiable, it is a priority embedded in our school culture, in policies and in practice. It is the price of doing business. We have facilities from the 50’s, 60’s and 80’s and as new as twelve years old. We make decisions based on health and safety.
In our part of the country, we can’t save money by closing up the buildings during the summer or we would have mold. We can’t cut the fuel or supply budget. We depend on people to do things differently. We have a long time custodial staff. If someone is out sick, others take over. No one says it isn’t my job. We do more with less.”
What is special about Danbury?
According to Disa, the key to her success is relationships and partnerships. “It is a small town community. We all work together. I work with wonderful people, a wonderful crew. It is a group effort dedicated to making sure everything is in good repair. We have a work order system and high standards for maintenance. We trust each other. We all know what we need to do.”
Training, Communication, Coordination
Disa did not attend college but has taken advantage of professional development, technical training, webinars and self-study. She started working in Danbury in 1991. After five years in food service, Disa stepped in when the Director of Maintenance became ill. When Disa took over maintenance, she rerouted gas lines when one of the schools did an electric upgrade. “I don’t care how cautious you are, you are going to have leaks,” Disa says. “Now is the time to make it safer.”
Today, Disa routinely provides staff workshops to ensure compliance with food service standards. As Pest Management Coordinator, Disa sends our reminders about Integrated Pest Management strategies and shares safety information with all district employees.
Safety is a work in progress
Disa has changed from hazardous cleaning chemicals to hydrogen peroxide-based cleaners. The chemical storage area is well-maintained. She obtains a list of chemicals from science teachers every year to give to the fire department.
HVAC system coils are washed bimonthly. When the roof needs attention, repairs are made while school is not is session. Disa says, “In spite of a limited budget, the Superintendent, Director of Business Service, and the community are supportive of our efforts. The PTO raised funds for the playground surround and the school district paid for the mulch.”
Superintendent Grimmett says, “Everyone knows that the district does not compromise when it comes to safety. The district installed a school alert system three years ago to improve communication, especially for bad weather and emergencies. There is a priority on keeping in touch and keeping folks informed.”
Through the efforts of Disa and others the school received a Clean Cities grant for two new school buses. They applied and received a third for a special needs bus.
The District, with the help of Disa and her crew, including the Director of Business Services, received a maximum grant of $35,000.00 for replacement of three outdated HVAC units. These units were installed with digital, programmable thermostats.
Disa is Mayor Pro Tem of the small town of Holiday Lakes, Texas. She has applied for grants from HUD, through which the town has been able to do road improvements. This past year the town was awarded $133,000.00. Disa says that she is here to help her community. She has helped four families apply for housing improvements. These families have received new homes through HGAC and HUD.
Through contracts and approval from the District Attorney’s office, Disa was able to receive recycled road materials for the bus barn parking lot at Danbury ISD.
Many reasons to be proud
This year, Superintendent Grimmett will be watching 41 seniors graduate. These students were the kindergarten class his first year in Danbury. “At kindergarten graduation, we always tell parents that this is your first look at the graduating class of the future.
Our true claim to fame is our girls’ softball team. The teams of 2004 and 2011 each brought home State Championships. The boys’ baseball team of 2009 also brought home a State Championship.
Our football stadium is adjacent to the high school. Our custodians make sure restrooms are clean. People from other districts comment that we have the cleanest bathrooms we’ve ever seen. Yes, we think that is important. Even our old buildings are clean.”