February 22, 2014

Roger Young: A hero to the core of his profession

Roger Young is a national leader for best policies and practices in managing school facilities. He is a resource and mentor to many. He champions high ideals and has a gift for cultivating colleagues who share his values. He believes that the primary responsibility of school facility planners is to ensure environmental safety in school facilities.

“Roger is an authentic leader, the best in the business,” says colleague and friend Greg Lookabaugh, Senior Manager of Facilities Planning for Choice Partners, a service of Harris County TX Department of Education (www.choicepartners.org).  “He pushes for excellence and delivers excellence. He is one of the few bean counters who understands the facility manager’s role. Roger has unique ability to connect with people. He respects everyone who works in a school as a professional. He can walk into a maintenance shop and relate to everyone.”

Greg met Roger Young when Roger was chair of the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International Facilities and was developing the Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities (2003). Active in ASBO, both Greg and Roger recognized the importance of professional recognition such as the ASBO Facilities Masters Award and watching school districts being recognized for their achievements  but recognized the need to have a bigger impact.

They started the Facility Masters Conference in 2007 to providing training and bring  together facility managers, business administrators and custodians. Greg adds, ”Roger is the kind of expert who learns from everyone. By creating the Facility Masters Conferences and emphasizing connections, he encourages everyone to learn from each other. Roger’s goal is to make people better tomorrow than they are today. Roger is a hero to the core of profession.”

Caring Knowledge

Bob Berry, a retired New Hampshire school business administrator, met Roger about fifteen years ago at an Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) conference. “He impressed me with his caring knowledge of schools,” says Bob.

“Roger can find resources to help you solve any problem -- from flooring, to mold remediation, to asthma and indoor air quality. For example, he helped two schools work on grants to get resources for “No Idling” campaigns. If he’ s been involved in helping solve a problem, he stays in touch. He wants to know how things are working. He is always available to help.”

“He has been a mentor to me.  Our friendship is professional and personal. He instilled in me that my job was more than just taking care of facilities. I needed to look beyond the budget and accounting details to focus on the people.”

“Roger is skilled at working with every stakeholder and constituent. He sees issues from multiple perspectives — the facility managers, vendors, custodians, and concerned parents.  He teaches “not just what, but why.” He emphasizes the benefit of program and process evaluation for understanding where time, money and energy are going.

Roger has observed the link between effective school management and community support.  He has seen a school system with a history of mismanagement lose a community’s trust and lose an override vote. Then, when the school adopted responsible management, it gained credibility and built trust and the next attempt to pass an override succeeded. 

Roger has the authority and credibility built over a long career in school systems and being part of educational agency advisory committees and the leadership of national forums and professional organizations.

Roger has a BA in Business from Salem State, an MA in Education from Fitchberg State, and an MBA and advanced studies UMass/Lowell. He taught business  for nine years, was a director of Occupational Education and Work/Study at North Reading High School and then became a school business official in North Reading where he stayed for 27 years, 24ith one superintendent, Frank O’Donoghue. Roger was Executive Director of Business in the Haverhill Public Schools and Assistant Superintendent for Finance at Manchester Essex Regional School District.

Early in his career, in 1983, he became a member of Massachusetts ASBO and became part of its leadership. He was part of the MA  Department of Education Task Force 1995 – 96 where  the rubric for evaluating technology plans was developed. He is also past chairman of the ASBO Facilities Masters Award Program Advisory Committee, past chairman of the ASBO School Facilities Committee, and past chairman of the ASBO Information Systems Committee. He represented Massachusetts at the National Center for Educational Statistics forum designed to find ways to get accurate timely and comparable data to state and federal for policy makers.

Roger was the host of a monthly Facility Masters Webcast Series promoting best practices by engaging experts in important facility management topics, reaching over 7000 professionals annually. Webcast topics included:
Developing a Chemical Safety Plan: Tips for Reducing Risk, Improving Auditorium and Theatre Safety: Tips for Reducing Risk, Benchmarking School Operations and Maintenance, Indoor Air Quality Essentials For Schools, Effective Integrated Pest Management for Bed Bugs and Lice in the Educational Environment, Planning for Weather-Related Emergencies: Tips for Reducing Risk, Bleacher Safety and Maintenance, Inventory Management: Cost-Saving Tips for the Educational Environment
Roger also created the first national listserv for K-12 facility leaders involving 1100 professionals. Now, in business as Roger Young and Associates he continues to be dedicated to promoting best practices and procedures through consulting, bringing people together at conferences, and maintaining relationships throughout the country.

Like other Healthy Schools Heroes, Roger Young’s commitment to professional excellence has roots in role models and mentors who took pride in a job well done and who created an environment of encouragement.

One role model was his grandfather, a farmer, whose job was 24/7. He had a strong work ethic and a deep sense of pride in his work. While in school, Roger worked summers for a mason and saw his satisfaction and pride in doing a good job, especially his chimneys. Roger also credits North Reading Superintendent O’Donoghue with encouraging his professional growth and participation in professional organizations.  O’Donoghue demonstrated the value of long-term relationships for building trust, stability and institutionalized knowledge.

The bible for school facilities 

Roger says he is proud of receiving (and giving) many awards during his long career but he is most proud of his role as chair of the team that produced the Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities (National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the National Forum for Education Statistics and ASBO International, 2003).

The Planning Guide emphasis on safety starts with the Executive Summary,

“...School facilities maintenance is concerned about more than just resource management. It is about providing clean and safe environments for children.”
The Planning Guide established national best practices to help educational professionals develop, implement and evaluate an effective facilities maintenance plan. It is a resource for building committees, school health advisory councils, site-based management boards, and environmental quality teams that set child safety standards and guidelines for school design, renovation, operations and maintenance, pest-proofing, lab safety, and all activities in and around the school.

Chapter 4: Providing a Safe Environment for Learning is a comprehensive and detailed guide to recognizing unsafe conditions and managing hazards including the “Four Horseman of School Facilities Maintenance: IAQ, Asbestos, Water Management, Waste management.

...Facilities maintenance is concerned first and foremost with ensuring safe conditions for facility users - be they students, teachers, staff, parents, or guests. As important as cleanliness, orderliness, and instructional support may be to facilities planners, occupant safety must always be the top priority…

According to Bob Berry, “The Planning Guide is the bible for school facilities!”