PM is Extra Credit

March 22, 2017 Lauren Clapper

How to Bring School Infrastructure from a Failing Grade to a Passing Grade

This past Thursday, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Infrastructure Report Card awarded schools with a D+, an almost failing grade. The report on education stated that about a quarter of the nation’s schools are in “fair or poor” condition. The ASCE states that school districts spent a total of $49 billion each year for school facilities – but despite the seemingly high number, there’s a huge gap between what we currently spend versus what we should be spending.

According to the ASCE, schools should actually spend $87 billion per year for facilities to reach modern standards, which means there is a $38 billion gap. Furthermore, they cite an additional $145 billion that needs to be collectively spent annually, broken down as follows:

  • $58 billion for maintenance and operations
  • $77 billion for annual upgrades to existing facilities to “reduce the backlog of deferred maintenance”
  • $10 billion towards new construction for new enrollments

One factor, as CNBC noted in their article on the report card, that may contribute to the overall condition of facilities may lie in how states are invested, as well. A report by 21st Century School Fund in 2016 found that many states don’t contribute to building educational infrastructure at all, relying only on federal funds, which has resulted in significant gaps per student. In Vermont, for example, the study found that there was a $2,872 gap per student. The report goes on to state that on average, education only accounts for about 34 percent of a state’s budget.

We know that a school’s facilities have a key influence on how a student’s overall learning experience is. In fact, as we’ve discussed, facilities can impact a child’s health, achievement, behavior and even the community at large. We want all of our students to not only pass their classes but to succeed and achieve for the future – so why are we letting our facilities fail?

One of the simplest ways that we can do more with less is through preventive maintenance. Although it would be nice to hope for increased annual budgets, the reality is that our students are relying on us to do the best we can in the present. Through the reduction of deferred and reactive maintenance, you can lower your operations cost via reduced manpower per work order, helping to make headway in your backlog of deferred maintenance without additional budget or resources, which we know are scarce these days.

When looking at how you can get the most out of your resources through maintenance, looking to data is one of the best ways that you can uncover money-saving opportunities. Data like key performance indicators (KPIs) can help you benchmark where you stack up against similar schools, setting goals for you to reach and also proving the effectiveness of any new maintenance procedures you implement. What are some key KPIs that can help you determine if you are on the right track in reducing your deferred maintenance backlog?

  1. Ratio of preventive maintenance versus corrective maintenance – the higher the ratio, the better in order to become a more proactive department and extend the life of your equipment
  2. Amount of deferred maintenance and current replacement value of your assets to calculate your facility condition index (FCI) - a way to normalize all of your assets and facilities to determine priorities for replacements and capital improvements.

For more information, check out our whitepaper on deferred maintenance and how our clients use KPIs to improve operations!

About the Author

Lauren is a Marketing Writer at Dude Solutions. A devout follower of technology trends, she loves to see how software can improve operations where people live, work and play.

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