One of the largest public school districts in the United States contacted Helbling & Associates because of our specific expertise in facilities management, construction, and operations. The district sought a Chief Operating Officer (COO) to oversee its more than 200,000 students, 19,000 staff members, and 220 schools. With facilities management and construction being main priorities for the position, Helbling stood out among other search firms.
Following a virtual interview, the client retained our firm to secure their next leader and replace the interim COO. The district wanted to attract a candidate who was up for a challenge—ready to address the issues of aging buildings, tackle new construction projects and the modernization of classrooms, as well as implement practices surrounding environmental sustainability. In addition to the $250M capital projects budget, the COO controls a $500M operating budget earmarked for food services, transportation, maintenance, and the management of real estate assets. The search began during the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning the COO would need to transition to the new role during a tumultuous period of uncertainty when priorities seemed to shift daily.
The ideal person would be able to perform at a C-suite level, working closely with school leadership, the local community and local government, and a variety of other stakeholders. He or she also had to possess the technical skills and experience to address end-user needs. The district emphasized that the health, safety, and well-being of students and staff members was of utmost importance.