POLICY (Management & Operations)
A school administrator’s passion for educating children is not enough to make up for poor facility management. At its best, district-level facility managers operate, maintain and improve school buildings with local school and community input in support of educational plans, programs and services. At its worst, facilities management is crisis driven, performed without public participation and without adequate information, standards, planning, oversight, or project management.
Too often, states are indifferent to facility management issues. However, when involved, they are often too prescriptive and establish requirements that undermine the ability of school districts to deliver innovative, high-quality and cost-efficient school facilities. Instead, states should establish policies that support performance standards for school building equity and adequacy and encourage local innovation and flexibility.
To ensure that public school facilities are managed so that they meet adequate standards for health, safety, instruction, services, environmental responsibility and efficiency.
If schools are expected to teach state-mandated curriculum, states need to make sure schools have adequate education facilities in which to do so. States must monitor school facility conditions and know how schools meet curriculum standards. The state then should help bring up to speed schools that fall short and offer financial and managerial assistance where needed.
Massive public investment alone cannot prevent wayward facilities management. Routine and preventive maintenance is essential to extend a building’s life and reduce a taxpayer’s burden. Citizens want to know that their tax dollars are being spent wisely and are properly monitored. State agencies and private firms have monitored and assisted in school construction projects. This is all a combined effort to assure taxpayers that their money is well-spent.
School officials need to know if their facilities management practices are effective and worth keeping. The community also can add invaluable perspective to help determine this. That is why transparency should shine light throughout the construction, modernization and maintenance process. Public disclosure of important facility information helps school districts develop public confidence in management. The public can make sure that plans are based on accurate, unbiased assessments of the data, rather than politically expedient short-cuts. Upon completion, staff, teachers and students can be called on to offer their day-to-day observations as final users. This input can help to review and monitor how school buildings are operated and maintained.