GIS Helps School District Extend Facilities Management Beyond the Physical Plant

By Jim Baumann
Esri Writer

The Garland Independent School District (GISD) is located in north-central Texas, adjacent to Dallas. The district encompasses approximately 100 square miles and serves the Dallas suburb cities of Garland, Rowlett, and Sachse. With an enrollment of about 58,000 students, it is the thirteenth-largest school district in the state of Texas.

The GISD has a “district of choice” policy. This policy allows parents to choose where their children will attend school, based on established criteria for ethnic balance. Annually, the district has a one-month selection period for both secondary and elementary schools. Once the selection period ends, the district’s Student Services department begins the process of assigning students to campuses based on building capacity, grade-level capacity, and seat availability. Other criteria, including campus demographic data, are considered before making the final decision on school placement.

To help with student travel and support the district of choice policy, the district’s GIS (geographic information system) department developed a Flex application for distance routing. With this application, officials can determine the location of a student’s home and local schools within the immediate vicinity.

Converting AutoCAD Files to Geospatial Data

Garland maintains 7 high schools, 12 middle schools, 47 elementary schools, and 2 pre-K schools, as well as a number of administrative offices and special use facilities. Managing these facilities for compliance with governing standards, current use, past maintenance data, and potential renovation or remodeling projects became increasingly difficult, and it was decided that an automated system was needed to prepare plans and data for quick and easy access.

For several years, the district used Autodesk’s AutoCAD for facilities management. The district’s AutoCAD facilitator, Kelli Daughtry, was responsible for converting all paper drawings into AutoCAD and maintaining facility floor plans during the district’s $385 million bond program. Approximately four years ago, the facilities department began implementing a GIS to be used in conjunction with AutoCAD. The district retains all facility floor plans in AutoCAD while using GIS to provide easy access to site plans, floor plans, room numbers, and data referenced to them.  Continue reading