West Allis-West Milwaukee School District on Improving Sustainability with the HGSC Program

Steven Eichman
Facilities Manager
West Allis-West Milwaukee School District

Tell us about your school district.

The West Allis-West Milwaukee school district is a 4K through12th grade school district with approximately 7,400 students. I manage 23 buildings, including 17 schools and one sports complex, the average age of which is upwards of 78 years old.

What was your path to a career in school facilities management?

I began working on the maintenance and grounds crew for a school district in the summer. Then, I became a custodian and was later promoted to head custodian while I attended undergraduate and graduate school. Before joining West Allis-West Milwaukee School District, I worked for the University of Wisconsin System as well as public school districts in California and Wisconsin.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the daily interaction with students, staff, and the community. I also get great satisfaction from maintaining the facilities in the best way possible, so they are warm, safe, and inviting environments for all.

What do you find most challenging?

What I find most challenging is trying to make sure all facilities priorities and emergencies are taken care of with a relatively small budget.

Why is improving sustainability and air quality in West Allis-West Milwaukee School District facilities important to you?

Improving sustainability and air quality in the WAWM school district facilities is important to me because it shows that I take what I do seriously and that I’m trying to leave the district in a better place than when I began.

What motivated you to join the Healthy Green Schools & Colleges program?

I was motivated to join the Healthy Green Schools & Colleges program because this task is too important to do on my own. By joining the HGSC program, I not only have standards that I aim to meet, but also an ever-growing network of facilities professionals that share a common goal.

Were you surprised by your score on the Healthy Green Schools & Colleges self-assessment?

I was surprised by our low score on the HGSC assessment. In fact, our score was so low that I thought we may not qualify for the program. I was not expecting to have so many items in several areas of the assessment that we were addressing but did not have the documentation to support our efforts.

How are you and your team using Healthy Green Schools & Colleges to identify or address areas of opportunity in your facilities?

We are using the HGSC program as a road map to reach and document our sustainability goals and efforts. Shortly after we joined, we were getting ready to place an order for custodial equipment. I checked the descriptions and specifications for the equipment on the purchase list against the HGSC standard and was pleasantly surprised that all but two of the items met the program requirements. One of the two items that didn’t meet the requirements was exchanged for a piece of equipment that did meet the requirements.

Are colleagues or administrators outside of your department aware of or interested in your school’s participation in the program?

Most of the Central Office Administration staff is aware of our participation in the program, but the facilities department is currently the most aware.

What accomplishment are you most proud of from a health or sustainability standpoint?

I’m most proud that the equipment we are purchasing meets the program’s standards and that we are being more deliberate and diligent about documenting our actions, policies, and procedures.

What’s next for West Allis-West Milwaukee School District?

The next step for us is continuing to chip away at the standards of the program and trying to meet as many of them as we are able to as quickly as possible.