Administrators and students of Eastern and Western Local School District and the Pike Career Technology Center (CTC) are participating in the Secondary Education: Lean Six Sigma program this school year.

Phase One of the project began on Sept. 24, 25 and 26 with administration, director and teacher training at the OSU Endeavor Center.

Phase Two, student training, will be held Nov. 12, 13, 14 and Dec. 3, 4, and 5, with Internship and Career Fair to be held on May 7, 2020, at Pike CTC.

Phase Three, Train the Trainer (for teachers and school staff interested in teaching Lean methodology to students and staff members) will take place on May 19 and May 20, 2020.

“Lean Continuous Improvement training is an industry recognized methodology for identifying and removing non-value-added process steps within any manufacturing or transactional process,” according to information provided by Justin Bloyd, founder and president of RB Sigma LLC, an organizational training, engineering and end-to-end supply chain management company that was the first company in the U.S. to train a secondary education system in Lean Methodology.

Lean training “provides students an industry recognized certification to prepare them for successfully transitioning into the workforce in any industry through traditional classroom learning and hands on simulations,” according to Bloyd.

“We’re doing organizational training so we’re focusing with Brad (Bapst) and his team,” Bloyd said during Phase One of the project in Pike County.

“I work here at South Centers with the small business program so I work with smaller businesses in the area, but I’m also on the Eastern Local school board so I see the needs from both sides,” Bapst said.

“We’re focusing on Lean training so it’s about identifying and removing waste and non-value added process steps from a manufacturing process, or in this instance, from a school process,” said Bloyd. “School districts find projects that we can run, that we can remove steps from. Some projects will result in cost savings. Others will result in a service being provided more efficiently.”

“The school district will exponentially benefit on the transactional side of the organization by running projects in food service, transportation, maintenance and student services,” according to Bloyd.

Bloyd and his team has been running the program for two years, starting with Chardon High School in Geauga County last year.

“The program started because the Chardon school district had a bond levy fail when it went to ballot,” Bloyd said. “They needed another $3.5 million dollars of operating income. The citizens said, ‘We don’t want a property tax appropriation.’”

The failure of the bond levy forced Chardon school administrators to close two elementary schools and move the school’s eighth-grade students into Chardon High School.

“Operationally they came to us and said, ‘We’re running essentially a $44 million business. How can we operationally improve? We’ve got 3,500 mouths we’re feeding so we’re very much a food service company. We’re transporting 3,000 kids 60 square miles twice a day plus band and athletics, so we’re very much a transportation company, but we’re always losing money.”

“So we just started training them on Lean methodology and how they can apply that to their school district,” Bloyd said.

Chardon school administrators then challenged Bloyd to provide the same training to the school’s students.

“So, we trained 40 students last year,” Bloyd said. “We had a lot of great manufacturing support. Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway company, PCC Airfoils, has guaranteed to hire four students at $21 an hour between their junior and senior years ... So the students that are trained, they graduate from high school with their Lean certification (and) they can demand a higher dollar amount per hour when they are employed versus their peers who are graduating with a basic high school diploma.”

About 35 students from the Pike County Career Technology Center and Eastern and Western school districts will be trained in Lean methodology by Bloyd’s company this school year.

Most of the funding for the program comes from (OSU) South Centers with a “very small cost share” from the Eastern and Western local school districts, according to Bloyd.

“Our students are valuable ... They are valuable because they fit the workforce mold of being a really good employee,” Bapst said. “We have trouble attracting a lot of industry to our region, and I think one of the reasons is that we don’t have a lot of workforce.”

“You see a lot of advertisements now that companies are looking for workforce,” said Bapst. “We view this as an opportunity to get these students job-ready right out of high school and have them focused on that kind of career path as far as getting a job as soon as they graduate and understanding what they want to do. So that way they can be successful because a lot of times kids graduate and don’t really have a plan and that leads to trouble ... “

While college students can benefit from learning Lean methodology, Lean training is “really for students who are not going to college, who are going into the manufacturing world,” according to Bloyd.

“It gives them a leg up on others who haven’t been trained,” Bloyd said.

“Our training is set up through the state of Ohio,” Bloyd explained. “We work with Ohio Means Jobs, with displaced workers, folks that are unemployed. We get a lot of folks paid through the state to come to our training who they have identified as more employable if they had skills such as project management.”

Bloyd’s team has been working with CTC, as well as Eastern and Western local school district administrators since April.

“We’ll be working together until the end of the school year. It’s basically a school-year-long project,” Bloyd said.

Pike County students will receive Lean training at Pike CTC.

“(Students) who come out of this program and have Lean certification, if you put them in a group of all the students that come out of the CTC, and then you have this group of 20 students with Lean certification, employers are going to say, ‘I want to pick from that group over there,’” Bapst said. “Manufacturers, hands down, are going to go straight to that group of students who have the certification.”

Bapst said he hopes to expand the program next year when the training and program are in place.

“We’re hoping to offer it to the other schools,” said Bapst. “We’ve got to keep a small focus group the first year just to make sure everything is in place ... The hope is, after the training, Eastern, Western and CTC will have their folks on staff who are trained so they have their team that can pick a group of students the following year to do projects and manage themselves.”

“What we are doing is something we did at Chardon — we end with the train the trainer program so we’re giving all the school districts the tools so they can train other students and train other teachers,” Bloyd said. “They can’t afford a consultancy year after year; that is why this is a multi-phase project where we’re training them, they are applying the tools on a project, training students, (having) a Career Fair, training the trainer, and then they’ve got to stand alone.”

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