Leaders from the largest urban districts in the country met in Las Vegas last week to network with peers, discuss the most pressing challenges facilities professionals face, and share best practices at the Council of Great City Schools COO Conference.
One of the biggest themes of the conference was the issue of deferred maintenance, how to quantify and strategies to reduce it. The cornerstone piece for much of the discussion was the Council of Great City Schools newest report, released in October of 2014: Reversing the Cycle of Deterioration in the Nation's Public School Buildings.
The report describes how districts, under increased financial pressures over a long period of time, made economic decisions that reduced the most cost effective types of work: preventive and predictive maintenance. Unfortunately those decisions have significant financial repercussions long term - failing building components before their projected life expectancy and inefficient equipment operation driving up energy costs, contributing to the benchmark that every one dollar of deferred maintenance costs four dollars to repair down the road.
One of the more compelling statistics presented in the report is that nationwide in 2010, districts had an estimated $271 billion of deferred maintenance in buildings and grounds, averaging $4,883 per student.
With an increasing number of studies showing the link between student performance and the condition of facilities, it's becoming more apparent than ever that maintaining an optimal facility condition is critical to the overall mission of a district. No longer is it good enough to construct new facilities; it is key for maintenance and operations to have a plan to maintain that facility to maximum life expectancy. Indoor air quality, lighting, acoustics and overcrowding can negatively impact student performance. Therefore, it's imperative for Facilities Directors to educate stakeholders in the community on the financial needs it takes to maintain a school.
Right now the deferred maintenance issue seems like a monumental challenge - nationwide and at an organization level for most districts. At the CGCS conference and in SchoolDude nation, the most successful districts are meeting this challenge head on with innovative leadership, technology tools to project needs, and a strong community relationship that thrives on transparency. Read more about how other districts are tackling this challenge in this whitepaper.
SchoolDude and several district leaders presented at last week’s conference, covering this topic and several others. Be sure to check back on the blog for the key points of that presentation and concluding thoughts from those district leaders. In the meantime, large schools are continuing the discussion in the SchoolDude Community, the largest network of education professionals in the country. Don’t miss the opportunity to add your thoughts on the Community discussions!