For school maintenance staff, summertime isn't a season of breaks and vacation, but of getting caught up on major repair and upgrade projects that have been deferred throughout the year. However, the season can also pose challenges for completing those projects when summer school programs are in session.
As far as repairs are concerned, the show must go on, and summer programs shouldn't stand in the way of completing what can sometimes be much-needed repair tasks. Balancing the maintenance needs of a school with the ongoing summer activities being hosted there is a delicate dance, and facilities teams should know how to navigate the potentially tricky tradeoff to make the most of the summer season.
The busy season
Summer can actually be one of the busier times of the year from a maintenance perspective. Large-scale projects that were deferred during the school year are often tackled in the warmer months when halls and classrooms are relatively empty. School Planning & Management outlined some of the tasks that are frequently relegated to the summer months, such as replacing windows, repainting classrooms and hallways, and repairing or replacing boilers.
Of course, maintenance staff and facilities teams aren't the only ones who find themselves on campus between June and September. School buildings find themselves in ever-increasing demand from all sorts of public and scholastic programs, from summer classes to intramural sports leagues. While these programs are great for kids and the community as a whole, they can create potential headaches for repair teams looking to cram in their corrective maintenance before the school bell rings in the fall.
Balancing competing motivations
Unfortunately, there can often be more factors in play than just scheduling conflicts. A report published by the National Business Officers Association outlined cost recovery and revenue as one key source of potential conflict. The fact is that summer programs offer their own benefits that school districts find hard to ignore, namely revenue. Administrators may be loath to impede, postpone or cancel a program that can bring in much-needed income that the school could then turn around and use on future projects.
At the same time, however, further postponing already-deferred maintenance projects can lead to major money being spent down the road when equipment breaks down. Coordinating with program administrators well in advance of summer is essential for avoiding scheduling conflicts. It's also beneficial to remain on top of preventive maintenance as much as possible during the school year, to reduce the number of major projects that need to be addressed during summer.