When Chris Stone began working for Dallas Independent School District in 1999, the records center was located on the sixth floor of an old Proctor and Gamble soap factory. James Robinson, Executive Director of Service Centers at the time noted that the conditions were less than favorable for storing records: the floor contained standing water, birds were in flight, and some boxes were held together by mold. Additionally, a variety of wildlife had nested in the containers, there was no electronic management of the inventory, and requested records were rarely found. Mr. Robinson assembled a team to clean the area and began the development of a records management program.
In 2001, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts performed a Texas School Performance Review of Dallas ISD. The auditor was troubled by the records facility. Several key recommendations were made by the audit team and the district was compelled to develop a records management program that would comply with the state public government records guidelines. The newly appointed Executive Director of Districtwide Records Management, Suzanne Davidson, began expanding the program with support from the administration. She leased a climate-controlled facility, oversaw the construction of the Records Center, hired consultants to review unmanaged records, and drafted policies and procedures to ensure that things were being done in a lawful, repeatable, and defensible way.
In 2003, Mr. Stone took over as the Records Management Officer for Dallas ISD. At the time, the Records Center had an inventory of 15,000 containers. As the district grew, so did their records holdings: currently, they manage 80,000 containers and over one million images. Stone, along with his dedicated district-wide records management team, implemented a unit for imaging services, an archive for construction drawings, and a robust destruction and recycling program. The changes have paid off; the unit has been able to return nearly $80,000 to the general fund in recycling returns alone.
The Records Management Unit produced a calendar in 2013 in order to raise awareness about their department and the records management program. Each month highlighted a different division and the employees who keep it running, along with their mission for records management. The calendar also had all of the important testing, reporting, etc. dates for the school district as well, so that school personnel would be encouraged to use it.
Moving forward, the unit has made safeguarding non-records with personally identifiable information a priority across the district. Stone said that, like many other units, he has had to justify their existence on several occasions, and he said it is not difficult to do. The unit’s existence saves the district money, reduces legal exposure, and allows personnel to access records more efficiently. Continued support from James Robinson, the Operations Services team and the Legal Service’s department was also cited as critical in the department’s success. We would like to thank Chris Stone and the rest of the staff at Dallas ISD for taking the time to tell us about their program’s successes and wish them continued luck in the future!