Editor's Note (The View From Here)
It's Finally Summer!
And there is plenty of work to be done.
- By Deborah P. Moore
- June 1st, 2014
While students take time off for the summer, the facilities departments at districts across the country are operating at breakneck speed in an attempt to ready their facilities for the 2014-15 school year. This job has always been a challenge, but it has become an even bigger undertaking for many districts that have had to cut facilities and maintenance positions and add responsibilities to the few dedicated employees that are left. Over the past few years, we have all had to root out waste, do more with less, and learn the difference between “want” and “need.” We’ve also been forced to take the time to look at processes and procedures, and create efficiencies.
The lessons, for the most part, have been good ones. The reality is, most of us would have comfortable sticking with the status-quo if not prompted/forced to look at what we were doing and find a better way to do it. Most districts have made the necessary cuts and instituted cost-saving procedures, and are now at a point where any more belt-tightening would have an adverse impact on their school facilities. The good news is that the economy is expanding and state revenues are increasing, although many are still keeping a tight rein on spending. This is news that could not have come at a better time with all of the summer projects now in full swing.
There is a lot to accomplish in just a few short months. We are looking at everything from routine maintenance (which hasn’t exactly been routine lately) to minor renovations and bringing buildings up to code. Spaces are being reconfigured and new furniture and fixtures are being installed to better facilitate teaching and learning styles. Safety and security is being reviewed and improved. Information technology is being updated. New roofs, heating and cooling systems, flooring and carpeting, and other building systems are all being installed.
With schools receiving a ‘D’ on the American Society of Civil Engineers 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, there is plenty of work that needs to be done! The U. S. Department of Education’s Condition of America’s Public School Facilities: 2012–13 report put numbers to it…. Fifty-three percent of public schools need to spend money on repairs, renovations and modernizations to put the school’s onsite buildings in good overall condition. The total amount needed was estimated to be approximately $197 billion, and the average dollar amount for schools needing to spend money was about $4.5 million per school.
With a list like that, it this doesn’t appear there will be much time for a summer vacation. Maybe next year!
This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of School Planning & Management.