Josue De La Torre, senior systems analyst in the Budget and Finance Department, was sitting comfortably in the Brennan High School auditorium getting ready to listen to the opening remarks at the Leadership Institute when he realized that former Superintendent Ed Rawlinson was talking about him.
“This year’s Innovator of the Year has developed a number of behind-the-scenes tasks that has resulted in much more streamlined and productive systems put in place across the District,” Rawlinson said. “To name just one, he has improved the Police Department’s ability to coordinate the pickup and delivery of over 17,000 campus deposits made on an annual basis, and identified which deposits are ready thereby reducing officer down time and improving efficiency.
“It is truly an honor to be recognized with such a prestigious award,” De La Torre said. “I was totally surprised when I heard my name.”
“I love working in the Business Office. I am empowered to think differently, to challenge the status quo, and be a champion for innovation,” he said. “I appreciate having the opportunity to work with so many amazing individuals across the district, reinventing business processes to eliminate paper while delivering constant process improvement.”
Adding to the surprise announcement was the attendance of his spouse, Henry Diecker and his guide dog, Tony.
Other innovative processes put in place by De La Torre include:
- Developed a deposit tracking system for campuses, police, and accounting departments to be more efficient in submitting, collecting, preparing, releasing, and reporting deposits.
- Developed a solution to track, report, and more efficiently bill transportation services rendered to special education students for Medicaid billing purposes
- Developed a solution that streamlined the campus carryforward portion of the annual budget process
- Developed a solution to connect the District’s third party fuel provider to those responsible for fuel in the District in order to streamline the payment process and provide more robust reporting by transaction for each location
- Developed a solution to improve the growth and improvement package submission process
- Developed a solution that improves or altogether facilitates campaign drives for the Partnerships Department
- Developed a solution for online registration and enrollment for summer school
- Developed a solution to automate employment verification requests
- Developed a large number of custom reports for Human Resources and Business Services for reporting out of MUNIS in a more effective manner.
The Innovator of the Year award is named for former Northside Superintendent Ed Rawlinson, and is presented annually by the Northside Education Foundation (NEF) to a Northside employee whose creative idea improves his or her school or the district, and is ground-breaking, efficient, cost-effective, and timely.
The Innovator of the Year award is administered annually by the Northside Education Foundation (NEF) to one of NISD’s 14,000 employees whose creative idea is successfully implemented and can be easily adopted by other schools or for wider use. Nominations are submitted from throughout the District, and a committee from NEF selects a winner from those nominations.
Past winners have included Frank Erazo, 2017; Kelly Garcia, 2016; Jay Sumpter, 2015; Anthony Jarrett, 2014; Landa Rodgers, 2013; Linda Zarakas, 2012; Kerry Haupert, 2011; Robert Harris, 2010; Jonathan Dale, 2009; Dr. Phil Linerode, 2008; Windy Barker, 2007, Debbie Merritt, 2006; Millie Linares, 2005; Jack Funkhouser, 2004; Math Department and Tim Boezinger, 2003; and Irene Alvarez, 2002.