Trent Bosard – Kearney Public Schools
“I take a lot of pride in my work here,” he says. “My whole family has gone through these schools.”
While he’s now the director of facilities for the Nebraska-based district, Bosard was once a student, as was his father and more recently, his son and daughters.
New hospitals, businesses and housing developments, as well as the expanding University of Nebraska at Kearney, have attracted more families to the area. The 2022 kindergarten class is KPS’s largest ever with over 500 students. In total, the district serves nearly 5,700 students.
While building new schools and adding to existing ones, Bosard and his team have been focused on maintaining welcoming spaces for students and staff. The team of 63 oversees 15 schools, three sports facilities and about 270 acres of school grounds.
“The district is actively positioning itself to stay ahead of the growth and prepare itself proactively for a sustainable future,” Bosard says. “We have good people here who are dedicated to moving the mission and vision of the school district forward.”
When Bosard started working for KPS in 2014, the district was in the early stages of building a new high school. Kearney High School had been in a 70-year-old building that would have cost more to renovate than replace.
Since the new $80 million high school was completed in 2016, Bosard and his team have already added eight classrooms to accommodate population growth. He says all 1,650 students and 150 faculty and staff fit comfortably in the building, so there’s been no need to use mobile, temporary classrooms.
In addition to academic spaces, Kearney High School has a theater and auditorium, two gymnasiums, a swimming pool and multiple athletic fields.
Two years ago, Bosard and his team completed a multi-million-dollar alternative education building, which he says is the first of its kind in Nebraska. The Hanny Arram Center for Success, which is for students in sixth through twelfth grade, offers counseling, mentoring, career development, and social-emotional learning in addition to academic classes.
The goal, Bosard says, is to support students going through difficult times and help them transition to a traditional school setting.
As with most facilities departments, Bosard and his team spend most of their time on preventive maintenance. In 2022, as KPS updated its strategic plan, he updated the district’s facilities master plan which is done every five years. Going forward, he wants the plans to be created in conjunction.
“We try to do a five-year lookahead so we’re not surprised by things,” he says. “Of course, you can’t prepare for everything, but we try to get ahead of as much as we can.”
Taking care of the team
In preparing the plan, Bosard walked through every facility to assess its needs and talked with the principals of each school, as well as with teachers and staff. He then worked with the architect Wilkens ADP to develop designs to present to the school board.
The board approved a $10 million Qualified Capital Purpose Undertaking Fund bond, which covers roof repairs throughout the district as well as bathroom remodels in a few schools. The biggest project will be modernizing Windy Hills Elementary School. Built in 1980, the school will receive updated finishes and be brought up to code with regulations like the Americans with Disabilities Act. Bosard expects work to begin in late 2023 and be completed by 2025.
For these and all projects, the facilities team uses SchoolDude, a system that manages work schedules, maintenance timelines and invoices. Bosard says this allows him and his team to be more efficient and organized and focus less on administrative tasks. His department includes custodial, maintenance and grounds, with managers overseeing teams in each area.
“I let them do what they do while I focus on big picture items and I know I don’t have to worry about them,” Bosard says. “I’ve got a really great team.”
With ongoing projects and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, he says he’s grateful there’s little turnover in his department. It helps, he adds, that the district treats employees well. In 2022, the school board gave everyone in his department a 5 percent raise.
“We’re all here for the same reason,” Bosard says. “We’re here to provide a safe, supportive, learning environment and the district does that by focusing on taking care of people.”
While Bosard may never have expected he’d one day be working for his alma mater, he always had an interest in facilities. After graduating from Kearney High School, though, he served in the Marines for four years, including in Desert Storm.
Upon returning home, he enrolled in Central Community College – Grand Island, where he earned his degree in construction management and architectural drafting in 1997. Bosard the hit the road, travelling to construction sites for multimillion projects. Some of the largest he worked on were for the outdoors retailer Cabela’s, where he was as the owner-construction manager for four years.
He continued travelling in his next role, too, as a project manager for Sampson Construction, a general contractor in Nebraska. Growing tired of the road, he eventually applied for the opening at KPS after hearing about it from his wife. She’s employed by the district as well, as a member of its human resources department.
“It’s been such rewarding work that’s presented me with new challenges every day,” Bosard says. “It was not only an opportunity for me to be home more, but a chance to truly come home and serve the community where I grew up.”
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. III 2023 Edition here.
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