Case Studies

John Scalisi – Rockville Center Union Free School District  

Improving the campus experience for students and teachers 

The person managing the facilities of a modern school district in the U.S. is tasked with the crucial responsibility of overseeing the maintenance and operation of numerous school buildings and facilities. This role has unique challenges, including managing aging infrastructure, ensuring compliance with safety regulations, optimizing energy efficiency and budgeting for maintenance and facility upgrades.  

John Scalisi | Director of School Facilities & Operations | Rockville Center Union Free School District  

John Scalisi | Director of School Facilities & Operations | Rockville Center Union Free School District

Additionally, the person must coordinate with various stakeholders, such as school administrators, staff and contractors, to address the diverse needs of the school community while working within financial constraints. Navigating these complex challenges requires a blend of strategic planning, problem-solving skills, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, qualities that John Scalisi has in spades.  

Scalisi is the director of school facilities and operations for the Rockville Center Union Free School District on Long Island, which has seven schools, 3,400 students, and 900 teachers and staff.  

“I pride myself on creating a positive impact on students and staff by ensuring the school buildings are welcoming, updated and well-maintained, thus enhancing the overall educational experience,” Scalisi tells Vanguard during an interview from his office in April.  

When Scalisi last spoke to Blueprint in December 2020, he was ensuring that the district was meeting U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and that New York State protocols were being adhered to as the COVID-19 pandemic was raging.  

Now, Scalisi is busy budgeting for the upcoming school year and beyond, an annual process that begins in October and commences with a vote in late May. Scalisi and his team are looking into various areas of improvement, such as replacing outdated equipment, flooring upgrades, ceiling renovations, parking lot maintenance, roof replacements and transitioning to LED lighting throughout the schools. 

“These efforts positively impact the district’s carbon footprint while simultaneously improving operational efficiency,” Scalisi says. 

The children are our future 

With a clear vision of the pressing need for district-wide capital improvements, Scalisi and his team continue to focus on improving the school experience across the district.  

John Scalisi | Director of School Facilities & Operations | Rockville Center Union Free School District  

One highlighted project is renovating the high school’s guidance suite into a more student-friendly space. He envisions an environment echoing the collaborative and independent research spaces of colleges, aiming to give students a place to do research and inviting them to do more studying in school. 

The improvements don’t stop at renovations. Following the successful addition of energy-efficient LED lighting, ceiling renovations, and a new turf field, Scalisi has plans underway for further enhancements.  

“Last year’s budget was $4.5 million,” he shares, indicating the scale of commitment the district places on capital projects funded by the budget and capital reserve fund. 

The artificial turf at the district’s middle school provides not only for the students but is also welcomed by the community.  

This project, which cost over $1 million, aimed to make the field more accessible to the community, external sporting groups, and the district’s sports teams. Safety measures, such as fencing and netting, were implemented, and the rubberized track was resurfaced. The field can now be used year-round by choosing artificial turf over natural grass, except during snowfall.   

Additionally, over the past few years, all six of the school district’s playgrounds have been replaced. The outdated equipment was replaced with new swing sets and climbing equipment, completely revitalizing the playgrounds. An innovative choice was to use turf instead of the traditional pour-and-play surface, providing children with a larger area to enjoy and play. This decision has already proven successful, as there has been a noticeable increase in community engagement and activity on the newly renovated playgrounds. 

Leading the team 

Perhaps what’s most compelling about Scalisi’s leadership is his hands-on approach to navigating the challenges of upgrading a diverse array of facilities. The spread of projects is vast, from reimagining classroom dynamics with interactive technology to repaving elementary school parking lots. Yet, despite the potential enormity of the task, Scalisi’s philosophy avoids overwhelming the community. “We can get a lot accomplished without going to the community,” he stated, highlighting the strategic use of funds to make incremental, impactful changes. 

John Scalisi | Director of School Facilities & Operations | Rockville Center Union Free School District  

Security is another domain where Scalisi’s proactive strategies come to life. With enhanced measures like card access, bullet-resistant film on doors, and hiring additional security personnel, Scalisi is always looking ahead.  

“It is ongoing because you can’t predict what’s going to happen,” he confessed, underlying the perpetual challenge of ensuring safety in an unpredictable world. 

Beyond the bricks, mortar, and safety protocols, Scalisi’s ethos encompasses a deep care for the aesthetic and functional cohesion of the school environments. Under his tenure, every classroom has been outfitted with Wi-Fi and modernized for today’s educational demands, a testament to his forward-thinking approach. “Every classroom is now a computer lab,” he proudly stated, showcasing the leap in educational technology under his watch. 

His dedication extends to nurturing a team that mirrors his enthusiasm for excellence.  

“I’m only as good as my staff,” Scalisi humbly acknowledges, aware that the seamless operation of a district of this scale is a collective endeavor.  

The feedback from the community and the tangible joy of students and teachers alike attest to the difference his and his team’s work makes. From receiving accolades about the pristine state of school grounds to innovating with awards like the Golden Broom, Scalisi’s impact echoes throughout the halls and hearts of Rockville Center. 

“A school can run without a principal, but it cannot without a custodian,” Scalisi says.  



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