NKSD's Oas keeps tabs on facilities use
July 28, 2008 · Updated 11:48 AM
POULSBO — Sometimes, while sitting at her desk mouse-clicking away at the school district’s master facilities schedule, she puts out fires.
Other times she acts as a counselor of sorts. But above all, Valerie Oas, the magician behind the North Kitsap School District facilities use scheduling, must be a good listener and flexible.
This year alone Oas, NKSD facilities scheduler of seven years, managed 6,610 facilities use applications. She said everything from fields, to gymnasiums to kitchens to hallways — yes even hallways — get use requests.
“They use every inch of the schools,” Oas said. “A lot of times if people can’t get into a classroom or a pod you can use a hallway to have a meeting.”
During the third week of June, the week after the school year ended, when Oas showed up to work she had 98 requests awaiting her approval.
Oas, who doesn’t like requests to pile up, does like dwindling the list to zero.
“It’s almost like a game,” she said. “I like to see how many I can get down.”
Approximately four years ago NKSD nixed the paper trail way of filing and approving requests and transferred the system online. The first year was a pilot year and for the last three years the online requesting system, aptly named “Schooldudes,” has been running full throttle. So much so, demands for the district’s facilities have more than doubled, as during the 2005-06 school year approximately 3,000 applications came in.
Oas attributes the growing demand — more than 8,300 individuals or organizations hit the facilities Web site since September — for the district’s facilities to the obvious: It’s now easier to apply.
Interested parties can find everything online from costs to availability to rules and regulations.
Even NKSD teachers, custodians and coaches must file requests to use the classrooms and fields once the contracted day is over. Oas said it’s frustrating for teachers, as they have a hard time putting in a request for usage of their own classroom. But the system is designed that way so everybody can know who’s using what and when.
“If I don’t know they’re (custodians) cleaning a building and I schedule a basketball game that would cause a conflict,” she said. “If an emergency happens they can call me and I can look at my schedule and know where everybody’s at. In the big picture it makes it so much easier to know where everybody is at even though it can be a hassle for them to request.”
Oas, being a wealth of knowledge on the behind-the-scenes entrails of the district, has hundreds of head-scratching stories to tell about the interpersonal communication skills of adults, especially in reference to scheduling disputes.
“It can get hairy at times,” Oas said. “Everybody’s event is the most important and it can get difficult at times when they don’t want to cooperate.”
She’s seen grownups lose their cool in front of the kids. Sometimes if an event gets rained out or canceled the individuals who’d reserved the space will just show up on a different day and assume its still theirs to use. When this happens, Oas gets the less-than-pleasant phone calls from parents whose child didn’t get to play.
“We know what happens when you assume,” she said. “It just snowballs from there.”
Sometimes, those who’ve been informed the space they’d requested isn’t available will go around and “police” the area just to make sure they weren’t led astray. And given the off chance the area was vacant at the time of the policing, Oas receives another phone call.
“There are so many kids and so many programs we have to be flexible,” she said.
The addition of Kingston High School last year threw a monkey wrench into the scheduling flow, as there’s only one stadium and two district teams competing for the space.
Tossing an “exciting” glitch into the scheduling system will be the new artificial turf covering for the North Kitsap Stadium and Strawberry fields. Oas said she’s already been approached by semi-pro football and soccer teams looking to reserve the space.
“It’s exciting, but it’s going to be difficult on personnel and coaches,” she said.
Oas is also privy to the weird — request that is. Topping the off-the-wall inquiry list is the rocket club that requested a field to shoot off rockets.
There are the regulars — Poulsbo Parks and Recreation, North Kitsap Soccer Club, Girl Scouts, the PTA’s, Martha & Mary — whom Oas affectionately refers to as the “frequent flyers.”
“Fires” and phone calls aside, Oas loves her job. It’s for the kids, she says.
“We hear there’s nothing for the kids to do and I can prove differently with all these camps going on and sports,” she said. “It’s a good feeling to know that the kids are actually doing something. It feels good to make these events happen.”