Paul Fjordbak is the on-site general manager of Sodexo Inc.'s work for Nixa R-II School District.
Paul Fjordbak is the on-site general manager of Sodexo Inc.'s work for Nixa R-II School District.
A Maryland-based integrated facilities management company is settling into its multifaceted role as groundskeeper, custodian and maintenance worker for the Nixa R-II School District.

Sodexo Inc., a subsidiary of France-based Sodexo Group, took over management of the district's facilities on Jan. 2 as stipulated in a $2.33 million annual contract approved by the Nixa School Board in early December. The company's on-site general manager, Paul Fjordbak, will oversee 47 employees.

Nixa Schools Superintendent Stephen Kleinsmith said Fjordbak has filled the vacancy left by Richard Jones, who recently resigned after more than a decade as the district's director of custodial and maintenance services.

District officials viewed Jones' departure as an appropriate time to evaluate the potential cost savings of contracting with an outside company for facilities management services, Kleinsmith said. He noted that the district already contracts with companies for busing and food services.

"We reminded ourselves that our strategic plan called for an exploration of that option," Kleinsmith said.

Four companies that responded to the district's requests for qualifications were asked to make presentations to the school board last month, and Kleinsmith said benefits of outsourcing quickly became apparent. The board voted 5-2 to execute the five-year Sodexo contract, which would total at least $11.65 million. The contract requires annual school board approval.

Nixa schools Finance Director Brenda Rantz said the district's operations and maintenance budget for the 2008-09 school year is $2.59 million, and she estimated that bringing in Sodexo will save the district about $200,000 annually.

Sodexo District Manager Paul Tebo said the "all-inclusive" contract places his company in charge of maintenance, custodial services and grounds care as well as energy management and conservation. Tebo said Sodexo has similar arrangements with the Belton School District near Kansas City and Truman State University in Kirksville.

Sodexo's management model will institute inventory control measures and assess the accountability of other programs already in place, Tebo said. The company's sustainability program is designed to reduce the district's carbon footprint and lower utility costs through energy conservation, he added.

Rantz said the district also was attracted to Sodexo because its scope of services includes a review of heating and air-conditioning systems, roofing and parking lots to determine preventive maintenance priorities as well as the district's future capital improvement needs.

Tebo said more than 40 district employees were given the opportunity to stay on with Sodexo at their current pay rate, but Rantz said about 10 of those employees won't cross over until looming retirement benefits available through the district take effect.

Kleinsmith said Sodexo officials visited Nixa in December to complete some preliminary work before the contract took effect this month.

"We still have a lot to do in order to get fully turned over ... but we are full-steam ahead with that transition," he said.

Tebo said members of Sodexo's six-person transition team were in Nixa the week of Jan. 5 to introduce themselves to district personnel and hire additional employees for open positions. The next order of business will be training employees on the company's safety procedures and chemical products, he added.

Sodexo serves 6,000 clients at 700 facilities management sites in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The company, which has 120,000 employees in North America, had 2007 annual revenues of $7.3 billion, according to