Tag Archives: deer valley unified school district

When Disaster Strikes – Part One

24 Sep

This is the tale of an incredible response to massive storm damage.  It is a case study in how to do things right following a disaster.

The Valley of the Sun, the local name for the greater metro-Phoenix area, gets an average of just 28 days of rain per year and only 7 inches of annual rainfall.  This compares to 100 days on average in the US and an average 37 inches of rain.  So it was a totally unprepared region on October 5, 2010 that experienced a freakish hail storm that literally ripped a path across the most populated area of the state.

The daytime temperatures had been in the 105-106 F degree range the days before.  On October 5, 2013, the temperature dropped from the high 80s to the the 50s in seconds.  A thirty degree drop in just seconds was followed by a further drop down to the 40s.   I was personally stuck in the third and most frightening wave.  The first two hail storms passed earlier in the day.  Around 5 pm, coming back from a meeting.  I was in a Honda S2000 two seat sports car convertible with a canvas top.

The storm had seemed to pass when the sunlit day turned dark and hail the size of golf balls and softballs came crashing down.  I was stuck on a highway on-ramp, surrounded by cars that started ramming each other in the suddenly icy road.  I slid to a stop as it sounded like a mob hitting my car with baseball bats and shotgun blasts.  I could not move to shelter as I was hemmed in by vehicles with a mini-van sliding to within inches of my driver door.  The hail was coming from all directions.  It hit my roof so hard that the hail was forcing the fabric down and hitting me inside.  I had to lay across the passenger seat to get low enough not to be hit.  I thought about fleeing the car but did not know if the hail could kill me if I left.  I wondered what would happen if the roof ripped open or the glass started to shatter.  It seemed like forever before the storm passed.  In reality, the hail lasted about twenty minutes.

My car had every piece of metal damage and all the glass cracked.  I had over 800 dents in my car, including a hail stone that had broke through the reflector on my trunk lid, through the trunk, and shattered the wiring inside.  My roof was shredded.  When my car was repaired, every external metal panel, glass, roof and lamp had to be replaced.  It cost around $25,000 to repair and took four months to get back.  My car damage and repair time was nothing compared to the damage wreaked upon the vehicles and buildings across Phoenix and the surrounding cities.

Video of the storm:


Video of a roof hit by the hail:


The storm had hailstones measured over 2 inches in diameter and caused $2.7 Billion in damage in less than an hour around 5 pm drive time for Phoenix commuters.

Scott McCleary, of the Valley Schools Insurance Trust (VSIT), was on the front lines.  VSIT is a joint purchasing pool for liability insurance for three very large school districts; Peoria Unified School District (PUSD), Deer Valley Unified School District (DVUSD) and the Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD).  Together, the school districts have over 100 campuses and thousands of school buses and maintenance vehicles.  In addition to the three hail storms in one day, buildings were suffering flooding from both rain and from leaking roofs.  Scott McCleary arrived at the Pioneer Elementary School campus first in the Peoria Unified School District.

Scott McCleary - VSIT

Scott McCleary – VSIT

Pioneer had flooding damage, and VSIT’s top priority is always to mitigate damage and avoid school closures and disruptions.  VSIT investigates, comes up with risk management plans, assists in securing vendors and pricing and coordinates with insurers and re-insurers.  When Scott arrived he immediately scaled the building to check out the roof damage.  Scott’s first impression was a bit of shock.  After a career inspecting roof damage on buildings, this was the most extensive storm damage he had ever seen.  “It looked like it had a million holes.  I’d never seen anything like that.”  Scott immediately got on the phone to Tom Bock, the Administrator for VSIT.  “It looks like we have a lot of damage out here, and I’m only at the first campus.”

Tom Bock put into action a plan of attack that would succeed where many others have still not repaired damage as the second anniversary of the storm approaches.  The school districts in VSIT pool their liability insurance and have a re-insurer for each incident starting at $100,000.  The re-insurer for this storm was Travelers.  Travelers was contacted immediately by VSIT and brought in.  By the end of the first day, Scott and the on-site adjuster had walked, inspected and put into action mitigation at four campuses.  Each campus has from several hundred to a few thousand students, hundreds of faculty, and multiple buildings.

After the first day, the Travelers Catastrophic loss Team (CAT) was flown in from New York.  Over the next two months, 115 campuses were full inspected and close to 100 have hail damage to roofs, rooftop air conditioning units, shade structures, windows, skylights, light structures, and paint.  Amazingly, out of around 4,400 solar panels, just seven were damaged.  The damage to the vehicle fleets were also dramatic.  Tops of school buses were dented while some three hundred support and maintenance vehicles were badly damaged.  For Scott McCleary who usually manages around 125 losses per year, he was now faced with managing losses at 100 sites, each with multiple buildings, vehicles and problems.

Work started immediately on the most damaged sites, including Pioneer Elementary and the Sandra Day O’Connor High School, each of which had flooding damage.  Thanks to the prompt action of VSIT, no school days were missed due to the hail damage at any of the 115 campuses.  Critical to the team that would accomplish this and future storm inspections and repairs were Jeff Long, the Director of Facilities at the Deer Valley Unified School District and Jim Migliorino, the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services for DVUSD; Edward Gillam, the Director of Facilities for Peoria Unified School District and Michael Finn the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services for PUSD; and Cole Morris, the Director of Facilities for Paradise Valley Unified School District and Tom Elliott, the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services for PVUSD.


Deer Valley Wins Arizona Quality Alliance Showcase in Excellence Award for 2011

5 Oct

The Deer Valley Unified School District through a partnership with the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) have been awarded the Arizona Quality Alliance Showcase in Excellence Award for 2011.  This recognition is well earned for their outstanding projects in utility redesign and management.  Jim Migliorino, Associate Superintendent for Fiscal Services at the Deer Valley Unified School District (DVUSD) spearheaded this project and brought in support from VSMG.  The multi-year project has been amazingly successful.







Jim Migliorino, Associate Superintendent DVUSD

In addition, Tim O’Brien CEM, CEA, Director of Utility Management Programs for Valley Schools and John Brunelle of Valley Schools have presented this information in conjunction with the Malcolm Baldridge Foundation for consideration for that national award, appearing on the programs for the Regional Baldridge Conferences.  You can see the information on their presentation here, followed by the conference detail for the upcoming October 11, 2012 presentation at the next link.



The project was started to earn Energy Star ratings for all DVUSD schools and facilities, starting as a pilot program and extending from there into solar installations and credits as well.  Here is an example of the utility complexity at a high school:


The results of this multi-year project are clear.  Here are the savings in percentages each year.  Total savings to DVUSD already exceed $1 million.

•2008 to 2009 → reduction of kWh of 7.9%
•2009 to 2010 → reduction of kWh of 7.6%
•2010 to 2011 → reduction of kWh of 10.92%
•2011 to 2012 → reduction of kWh of 7.52%
•Largest recipient of utility company energy rebates (APS Solutions for Business)
•6+ megawattage of solar installations
DVUSD is to be congratulated on their outstanding work.  If you want to see more details, please click on the above links and attend the October 11, 2012 conference.

Deer Valley High School Solar Panels




Deer Valley Unified School District Saves Millions on Energy!

31 Aug

The Deer Valley Unified School District (DVUSD) received a check this week for over $30,000 from Arizona Public Service (APS) for their utility management program.  With this check, savings for the district in rebates alone are millions of dollars since they started the program with the help of Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG).  The rebates are a partial reimbursement for DVUSD taking the initiative to install more energy efficient equipment after an extensive review of campuses.  Not only has their been millions in rebates, but the utility savings are also staggering.

Jim Migliorino, Associate Superintendent of Fiscal Services, Deer Valley Unified School District

Jim Migliorino, the Associate Superintendent for Fiscal Services at DVUSD has helped spearhead this effort to reduce costs.  Working closely with John Brunell and Tim O’Brien of VSMG, Jim has retro-fitted and replaced equipment in circumstances where the cost of the upgrade is more than offset with utility savings and APS rebates.  It is an uncommon event to see such dedication to saving money for a school district so that precious tax dollars can go into the classroom, not to pay for excess utility costs.

One of many checks earned by DVUSD from APS as a result of their efforts.

More to come in future posts on details as to how these significant savings were realized.

A New Site to Share Successes in Project Management, Construction, Utility Reduction and Green Projects

20 Jul

Our first featured project is one completed by the Deer Valley Unified School District to convert some of their roof space over to solar power panels to save energy costs.  Here are some excerpts from an earlier article:  Arizona Pushes for Affordable Solar Energy in Schools


Arizona Pushes for Affordable Solar Energy in Schools

By Tanya Roscorla
In December, Deer Valley High School in Phoenix installed the largest rooftop solar system on a K-12 school in the nation. A 1-megawatt system including 4,464 photovoltaic panels tops these buildings, and so far, it’s saved the school nearly $34,000. | Photo by Core Construction.
As the Solar Schools Act makes its way through Congress, school districts in the Valley of the Sun are installing solar panels to save money and take advantage of natural resources.

Cut costs

And in the desert, electricity isn’t cheap. During the hottest parts of the day, customers of  Arizona Public Service need a huge amount of electricity, so the company charges more in the middle of the day.

School goes right through the hot part of the day, so as solar technology and government incentives to implement it changed, Deer Valley decided to install photovoltaic panels on six buildings. In December, the district worked with SOLON Corp. to install a 1-megawatt system of 4,464 photovoltaic panels at Deer Valley High School. SOLON says this project is the largest rooftop solar system on a K-12 school in the nation.

In the first quarter of 2010, it produced 307,785 kilowatt-hours of electricity, said Jim Migliorino, the district’s executive director of fiscal services. Multiplied by the average utility rate of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour, that equals a savings of $33,856.

Overall, the system is expected to save $400,000 in maintenance and operations expenses, which leaves more money in that budget line item to put into classroom instruction, she said. The district purchased the first system through tax-exempt bonds and is developing five additional systems for other schools, which are scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2011.

For the other five systems, the school district will sign a power purchase agreement, often called a solar service agreement in Arizona. According to the agreement, the company owns the energy systems and claims the investment tax credit on them while the district buys power from the company.

 Set goals

At Deer Valley, the district buses have used biofuels for years, and it’s committed to clean energy.

Deer Valley and Paradise Valley Unified School District No. 69 have both established renewable energy as a priority, which is important when schools consider moving forward with solar projects, said Dan Alcombright, vice president and general manager of SOLON in North America.

“At a school board level,” he said, “they have written in renewable energy as an overarching goal for the school district.”

Gather support

With about 5 million square feet of roof space on more than 52 buildings, Paradise Valley has plenty of areas to install solar panels, said Michael L. Green, director of maintenance and operations. And by September, three high schools will have solar panels on them. An additional two high schools will have solar panels next year through a power purchase agreement with SOLON.

The district is also working with Green Choice Solar to mount photovoltaic panels on a support services building, the administration office and the community resource center, as well as on parking lot structures that cover the buses.

Paradise Valley sits between Deer Valley and Scottsdale school districts, and because some of the same solar providers are working at each of them, the facilities directors share what they learn.

“We’ve gathered together and kind of used each other as support hubs, going back and forth,” Green said, “and tried to educate ourselves as quickly as we could.”

But Green did one thing that they didn’t do: he hired consulting firm Green Ideas to guide him through the process and help him figure out what technology would work the best for Paradise Valley. And he wanted to make sure he chose solar panels that would last as long as possible, so he talked to his consultant about what technology was on the horizon.

“I’m kind of looking toward the future,” Green said, “and I’m also real interested in the new technology and how and where it’s going to lead us.”

You may use or reference this story with attribution and a link to

At this blog we plan to do a follow-up on this project and see where we are with savings after an additional two years.

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