A familiar face will fill a new role with Gretna Public Schools.
The GPS Board of Education approved the hiring of Pat Phelan as Director of Facilities, Construction, Maintenance and Custodial Services at its Feb. 8 meeting.
A licensed architect, Phelan has worked for DLR Group for 39 years. He started with the company right out of college, helping open the Minneapolis office in 1990 before returning to Nebraska in 1996, when he became involved with the school construction market.
“I’ve been very blessed to be a part of that organization,” Phelan said of DLR Group. “They’ve been very instrumental in developing me as an architect and familiarizing me with the construction industry.”
He has been working with the Gretna Public Schools district for more than 20 years.
“I’ve been very fortunate to work with a lot of school districts across the state of Nebraska and throughout the region,” Phelan said. “As Gretna continues to grow, they have a need for someone to really focus on the needs of the district’s construction business,” Phelan said. The responsibility previously fell on the shoulders of current administrators. “Many districts of their size have brought on a facilities person to help oversee that part.”
Though not born in Gretna, Phelan was raised in town from 3 years old, graduating from Gretna High School.
“I feel very fortunate to have grown up in the community,” he said. “I see this as an opportunity to really give back and make sure Gretna stays the great place that it is to live.”
Phelan said he looks forward to really focusing on Gretna.
“In my role with DLR, I was working with a lot of school districts so I couldn’t dedicate all of my time to Gretna — though that was a lot of it,” he said. “Now, I’ll be able to really focus and be a help to Dr. Beran, the board and a lot folks there, to be efficient in how we run and how the schools operate.”
The role has been in the works for some time, said GPS Superintendent Rich Beran. It has been a board goal for six years.
Phelan’s experience and knowledge made him a desirable hire.
“He was selected because he’s the best guy out there,” Beran said. “He’s known throughout all of Nebraska as kind of the go-to guy for K-12 construction and he’s worked with the district for 20 years.
“In essence, it’s been a 20-year interview. It goes back to what Dr. (Kevin) Riley said: you’re kind of being interviewed every day you’re at a job. What you do at the current job is going to determine your future.”
The district consulted with neighboring communities — for example, Elkhorn — that have gone through similar growth, adding the same kind of staff.
“As we continue to grow, that job has become bigger and bigger — the construction, as we keep adding more and more buildings,” Beran said. “It’s a job that has evolved with our growth and we thought, with this new bond issue, now would be the time to add that position.”
Phelan’s responsibilities will include overseeing new construction and renovation projects, coordinating and planning for maintenance work, setting construction standards and working with custodial staff.
His first day will be March 1.
“I feel very blessed to be selected to be a part of this team,” Phelan said. “I think Gretna does a great job of serving the students and parents of the community. It’s a hard thing to make everybody happy all the time, but I think they do as good a job as anybody to work with people.
“This is going to be an honor and I’m looking forward to helping serve them and continue to serve the patrons of Gretna.”