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Purpose: To improve the QUALITY COMPARABILITY UTILITY of elementary & secondary education data ASBO ® International. Promotes the highest standards of school business management practices Supports a standing committee on school facilities

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Purpose: To improve the QUALITY COMPARABILITY UTILITYof elementary & secondary education data

asbo international
ASBO® International
  • Promotes the highest standards of school business management practices
  • Supports a standing committee on school facilities
  • 6,200 members with dissemination to >15,000 LEAs

task force members
Task Force Members

Roger Young MA / ASBO / Forum / MASBO

Frank Norwood TX / ASBO / TASBO

Joan Hubbard MP / ASBO / Facilities Consultant

John Bowers MI / ASBO / Facilities Consultant

Tim Shrom PA / ASBO / PASBO

David Uhlig VA / ASBO / Forum / VASBO

Christine Lynch MA / MA DOE

Jay Sullivan MA / MA DOE

Janet Emerick IN / Forum

Judy Marks DC / National Clearinghouse Educational Facilities

Mary Filardo DC / Forum / 21st Century School Fund

Patty Murphy UT / Forum / USABO

Lee Hoffman DC / Forum / NCES

Tom Szuba VA / Project Consultant

this planning guide focuses on
This planning guide focuses on…
  • School facility maintenance as a vital component of the responsible management of an education organization.
  • The needs of an education audience.
  • Strategies and procedures for planning, implementing, and evaluating effective maintenance programs.
  • A process to be followed, rather than a canned set of ‘one size fits all’ solutions.
  • ‘Best practice’ recommendations rather than mandates.
in a nutshell
In a nutshell…
  • These guidelines are written to help school administrators, staff, and community members better understand why and how to develop, implement, and evaluate a facilities maintenance plan.
  • How does an organization… develop, implement, and evaluate…a maintenance plan?
  • This planning guide is not:
    • Presented as a how-to manual of maintenance procedures and instructions.
    • An attempt to dictate policy making in local and state education agencies.
target audience
Target Audience
  • School business officials
  • Superintendents and principals (and their assistants)
  • Other policy makers (e.g., school board members)
  • Other facilities maintenance planners
  • Maintenance and custodial staff
  • Secondary audiences include state education agency staff, community members, vendors, and regulatory agencies (e.g., the EPA)
chapter headings
Chapter Headings
  • Introduction to School Facility Maintenance Planning
  • Planning for School Facilities Maintenance
  • Facilities Audits: Knowing What You Have
  • Providing a Safe Environment for Learning
  • Maintaining School Facilities and Grounds
  • Effectively Managing Staff and Contractors
  • Evaluating Facilities Maintenance Efforts
chapter framework
Chapter Framework
  • Table of Contents
  • Chapter Goals and Objectives
  • Best Practice Recommendations
  • Vignettes/Real World Examples
  • Commonly Asked Questions
  • Checklist (i.e., a To-Do-List)
  • Additional Resources (primarily Web-based)
chapter 1 introduction why does facilities maintenance matter
Chapter 1: IntroductionWhy Does Facilities Maintenance Matter?

Table of Contents:

  • Why Does Facilities Maintenance Matter?
  • Who Should Read this Document?
  • In a Nutshell
  • Planning Guide Framework
  • In Every Chapter…
  • Commonly Asked Questions
  • Additional Resources
  • Introductory Facilities Maintenance Checklist


  • To explain how clean, orderly, safe, cost-effective, and instructionally-supportive school facilities enhance education.
  • To introduce the purpose, structure, and format of the planning guide.
chapter 1 introduction to err is human
Chapter 1: IntroductionTo err is human…

… but you’d like to avoid this kind of thing all the same!

The school board was happy, the community was proud, and the students were ecstatic. In 1992 the high school finally invested in a gymnasium that would meet the needs of the physical education department, the athletic department, and community organizations alike. After six years of use, the facility looked to be in great shape, so everyone was shocked to find that school had been cancelled on a Monday morning so that the maintenance staff could combat a flood that had gushed across the gym floor and into the main building. What had happened? A $12 gasket had failed—but it happened to be the one that sealed the 40,000 gallon back up water tank that lay adjacent to the gymnasium. Even that, however, could have been overcome had not the tank’s emergency drain been covered with boxes of books in a misguided attempt to increase the building’s storage space. As it was, school was cancelled for two days, emergency response cost $26,000, and the gymnasium was closed to school and community users alike for five weeks while $160,000 worth of repair work was performed. So how could this problem have been avoided? In truth, there were many things that could have saved the district from its woes:

Solution 1. Proper Planning – Might there have been another, less perilous, place to construct the the water tank, rather than over the gymnasium floor? Probably so!

Solution 2. Acceptable Maintenance – Might regular equipment inspections of the backup water tank have identified a rotting gasket and prevented the flood? Perhaps so!

Solution 3. Appropriate Operations – Shouldn’t there have been someone who had enough common sense to know that covering an emergency drain with boxes wasn’t an acceptable storage system? Definitely so!

chapter 1 introduction commonly asked questions
Chapter 1: IntroductionCommonly Asked Questions

How will a maintenance plan make our schools better?

Learning does not occur in a vacuum. Students and staff interact more constructively in an environment that is orderly, clean, and safe. Poor air quality, for example, can negatively impact student alertness, and student and teacher attendance, which has a corresponding impact on student learning. On the other hand, classrooms that are well ventilated, suitably lighted, and properly maintained actually facilitate learning. Moreover, appropriate facilities maintenance extends the life span of older facilities and maximizes the useful life of newer facilities. Thus, a facilities maintenance plan contributes to both the instructional and financial well being of an education organization and its community.

chapter 1 introduction checklists


Check Points




Are top-level decision makers aware that school facilities maintenance affects the instructional and financial well-being of the organization?


Are top-level decision makers aware that the occurrence of facilities problems (and lack thereof) is most closely associated with organizationally controlled issues such as staffing levels, staff training, and other management practices?


Chapter 1: IntroductionChecklists
chapter 1 introduction additional resources
Chapter 1: IntroductionAdditional Resources
  • Guide for Collecting and Using Data on Elementary and Secondary Educational Facilities: A publication from the National Forum on Education Statistics which defines a set of data elements that are critical to answering overarching policy questions related to elementary and secondary school facility management. (
  • Indoor Air Quality and Student Performance. (2000) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Indoor Environments Division, Washington, DC. This report examines how indoor air quality (IAQ) affects a child's ability to learn and provides several case studies of schools that have successfully addressed their indoor air problems, the lessons learned from that experience, and what long-term practices and policies emerged from the effort. (
chapter 1 introduction why does facilities maintenance matter15
Chapter 1: IntroductionWhy Does Facilities Maintenance Matter?
  • The appearance of your community’s school buildings says a lot about its values
    • A positive relationship exists between school conditions and student achievement and behavior1
    • Students who attend schools in poor condition score 11% lower than those attending schools in excellent condition2
    • Physical conditions have a direct effect on teacher morale, sense of personal safety, and feelings of effectiveness in the classroom3

1Department of Education (1998) Impact of inadequate school facilities on student learning

2American Association of School Administrators (1992) Building our Future: Making School Facilities Ready for the 21st Century, NASBE

3Corcoran T.B., Walker L.J., and White J.L. (1998) Working in Urban Schools. Washington, DC: Institute for Educational Leadership.

chapter 1 introduction what causes facilities problems
Chapter 1. IntroductionWhat causes facilities problems?
  • Environmental Conditions
  • Deferred maintenance
  • Inadequate funding
  • Inadequate staff training
  • Poor practices
    • The occurrence of facilities problems is less likely a function of geography or socioeconomics and more directly related to staffing levels, staff training, and staff practices.
chapter 1 introduction what if we don t plan to protect our investments
Chapter 1. IntroductionWhat if we don’t plan to protect our investments?
  • Buildings and equipment deteriorate
  • Warranties become invalidated
  • Student and staff morale is affected
  • Future public investment in the education system is discouraged
chapter 1 introduction facts about facilities
Chapter 1. IntroductionFacts about Facilities…
  • We know that both routine and unexpected maintenance demands will arise. This is inevitable.
  • Facilities maintenance is big and costly. It can get even more costly if it handled in a haphazard manner.
  • It seems that we are always having to weigh short term demands against long term demands.
  • An organization must PLAN to meet these challenges.
chapter 1 introduction what is a facilities maintenance plan
Chapter 1. IntroductionWhat is a facilities maintenance plan?

A document that details an organization’s strategy for proactively maintaining its facilities.

  • Reflects the vision and mission of the entire organization.
  • Includes an accurate assessment of existing facilities.
  • Incorporates the perspectives of various stakeholder groups.
  • Focuses on preventive measures.
  • Provides a formal way of communicating the district’s priorities.
  • Establishes necessary documentation for funding authorities and other approving organizations.
  • Demonstrates organizational commitment to facilities maintenance.
chapter 1 introduction how does facilities maintenance save
Chapter 1: IntroductionHow Does Facilities Maintenance Save $$$

Unlike other investments, the return on investment for facilities maintenance doesn’t necessarily result in increased revenues. Instead, good facilities maintenance produces savings by lowering:

  • Replacement costs
  • Labor costs
  • Overhead and utility costs
chapter 1 introduction other benefits
Chapter 1: IntroductionOther Benefits…

Effective school facility maintenance can…

  • Improve the cleanliness, orderliness, and safety of an organization’s facilities.
  • Contribute to an organization’s instructional effectiveness and financial well-being.
  • Reduce operational costs and life cycle costs.
  • Help staff deal with limited resources by identifying priorities proactively rather than reactively.
  • Extend the useful life of buildings.
  • Increase energy efficiency and help the environment.
chapter 2 planning effective management planning
Chapter 2: PlanningEffective Management = Planning
  • “Planning” is the formulation of a strategy for getting an organization from the here and now to the future
  • As circumstances change over time, strategies for achieving tomorrow’s successes also change
  • Good planners are always mindful of the need to review and revise plans to meet the changing needs of the organization
chapter 2 planning identify stakeholders
Chapter 2. PlanningIdentify Stakeholders
  • Stakeholders include anyone who has a sense of ownership in facilities decision-making

Maintenance Staff/Contractors Parents

Custodial Staff/Contractors Students

Superintendents Community Groups/Users

Principals School Business Officials

PTA Representatives Teachers

State DOE Staff School Board Members

Public Safety Officials/Regulators Contracted Experts

Taxpayers Againsters*

*Againsters are those people who make a habit of opposing any kind of change. In order to minimize the likelihood of last minute delay tactics, planners must include these stakeholders in the decision making process from its onset.

chapter 2 planning be clear about what you want
Chapter 2. PlanningBe Clear About What You Want


Your local high school can be cleaned by a single person…no kidding.

The only catch is that you have to be willing to live with the job that would be done. Thus, it is imperative that there be agreement on expectations. Somebody is bound to be unhappy if parents expect 4-star hotel but planners only budget for discount motel standards.

chapter 2 planning data for informed decision making
Chapter 2. PlanningData for Informed Decision-Making
  • Good data are necessary to inform good decision-making.
  • Without data, planners are forced to work without context, and planning becomes guesswork:

Vision = What you WANT

Plans = What you EXPECT

Data = What you KNOW

chapter 2 planning planning information success
Chapter 2. PlanningPlanning + Information = Success
  • Planners must know:
    • what facilities exist
    • where they are located
    • how old they are
    • their status/condition
    • Are equipment and facilities working:
      • as designed?
      • as they should?
      • as they need to?
  • The only way to make effective decisions is to collect data in a regular, timely, and consistent manner
chapter 3 knowing what you have the facilities audit
Chapter 3: Knowing What You HaveThe Facilities Audit

A facilities audit is a comprehensive inventory and review of all aspects of new or existing facilities

  • It provides a snapshot in time of how the various systems and components are operating.
  • It provides the landscape against which all facilities maintenance efforts will occur.
  • It requires time, energy, and expertise.
chapter 3 knowing what you have commissioning
Chapter 3: Knowing What You HaveCommissioning
  • A type of facilities audit that occurs after building construction or renovation in order to document that the facility operates as designed and is able to meet the requirements of intended use
  • Performed by a neutral third party.
  • Must be included in all construction and renovation contracts as a standard expectation to occur before transfer of liability.
  • Re-commissioning measures current performance against as-new performance
  • Retro-Commissioning allows baselines to be established for older buildings
chapter 4 safety providing a safe environment for learning
Chapter 4: SafetyProviding a Safe Environment for Learning
  • Safety is the priority over cleanliness, orderliness, cost-effectiveness, and even instructional support
  • Efforts to provide safe facilities are regulated by:
    • Federal regulations
    • State law
    • Local law
    • District policy
    • Good old fashioned common sense
chapter 4 safety providing a safe environment for learning30
Chapter 4: SafetyProviding a Safe Environment for Learning
  • Major catastrophes and other serious incidents are not the preferred method of learning about environmental regulations.
  • The first step in complying with environmental regulations is to become aware of their existence, intent, applicability, and requirements.
  • In most cases, this knowledge can come from regulatory agencies, professional associations, and on-the-job training.
  • Getting this information may not always be expensive, but it does demands considerable expertise, either hired or developed.
chapter 4 safety four horsemen of facilities maintenance
Chapter 4: Safety“Four Horsemen” of Facilities Maintenance
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Asbestos
  • Water Management
  • Waste Management
chapter 4 safety best practice recommendations asbestos
Chapter 4: SafetyBest Practice Recommendations: Asbestos
  • The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) regulates the management of asbestos-containing materials in all public and private schools
  • Local education agencies are required to:
    • Designate and train an asbestos coordinator
    • Identify friable and non-friable asbestos containing materials
    • Develop and implement an asbestos management plan
    • Develop and implement a responsible operations and maintenance program
    • Perform semiannual surveillance activities
    • Notify all occupants (and occupant guardians) about the status of asbestos-containing materials on an annual basis
    • For more information:
chapter 4 safety other major safety concerns
Chapter 4: SafetyOther Major Safety Concerns
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs and HCFCs)
  • Emergency Power Systems
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
  • Lead Paint
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB’S)
  • Radon
  • Underground Storage Tanks (USTs)
chapter 5 maintaining school facilities and grounds types of maintenance
Chapter 5: Maintaining School Facilities and GroundsTypes of Maintenance
  • Emergency Maintenance: The main water line breaks and floods the lunchroom… someone better fix it NOW!
  • Routine Maintenance: The pencil sharpener in a classroom needs to be replaced… get to it when you can.
  • Preventive Maintenance: The air conditioner filter is due for replacement every 3 months… schedule the work.
  • Predictive Maintenance: Monitoring software indicates that a piece of equipment will fail within a predicted time frame based on user demand and other performance measures… get out your computer.
chapter 5 maintaining school facilities and grounds maintenance operations issues
Chapter 5: Maintaining School Facilities and Grounds Maintenance & Operations Issues
  • Access Controls
  • Boilers
  • Electrical Systems
  • Energy Management
  • Fire Alarms
  • Floor Coverings
  • Gym Floors
  • HVAC
  • Hot Water Heaters
  • Kitchens
  • Painting Plumbing
  • Public Address Systems and Intercoms
  • Roofs
  • Water Softeners
chapter 5 maintaining school facilities and grounds grounds management
Chapter 5: Maintaining School Facilities and Grounds Grounds Management
  • Courtyards
  • Exterior lighting and signage
  • Pools
  • Museums
  • Bike trails
  • Modular facilities
  • Paved surfaces (e.g., side walks, parking lots, and roads)
  • Athletic fields; outdoor learning equipment
  • Use of fertilizers/herbicides
  • Watering and sprinkler systems
  • Use of recycled water (gray water) for plumbing, watering fields
  • Drainage
  • Scheduling ‘rest’ time for fields
  • The aesthetic benefits of flower beds versus the health costs of increasing allergy events and bee stings
  • Use of the grounds as a classroom (e.g., ‘science’ courtyards)
chapter 6 effectively managing staff and contractors hiring staff
Chapter 6: Effectively Managing Staff and ContractorsHiring Staff
  • Expertise on the hiring team is essential
  • Many maintenance jobs require technical skills
  • Identify the qualities you want before the interviews begin
  • Job descriptions must include:
    • Duties and responsibilities
    • Working conditions
    • Physical requirements
    • Educational requirements
    • Credentials and licensure
    • Equipment used
    • At-will vs. unionized position
    • Channels of authority and supervision
    • Evaluation mechanisms
chapter 6 effectively managing staff and contractors training new employees
Chapter 6: Effectively Managing Staff and ContractorsTraining New Employees
  • Equipment instructions: Training on all tools, machinery, and vehicles the individual will be expected to use
  • Lessons: Show the trainee how to perform the job properly, common mistakes that lead to improperly completed tasks, and what the job looks like when it is done right
  • Expectations: A clear description of precisely what the individual must do in order to meet the requirements of the job
  • Evaluation information: A clear explanation of all criteria on which the individual will be evaluated
  • Potential ramifications of the evaluations: Some mistakes result in retraining, others warrant reprimands, and a few demand punishment or dismissal… be clear.
chapter 6 effectively managing staff and contractors evaluating staff
Chapter 6: Effectively Managing Staff and ContractorsEvaluating Staff
  • Establish performance standards and evaluation criteria
  • Develop an evaluation instrument and use it objectively, consistently, and regularly (e.g., a checklist and a rating scale)
  • Be positive and encouraging
  • Provide retraining/remediation as necessary… termination is an expensive option and should not be used without good reason
  • Document evidence that supports assessment
chapter 6 effectively managing staff and contractors maintaining staff
Chapter 6: Effectively Managing Staff and ContractorsMaintaining Staff
  • What keeps people on the job?
    • Good pay
    • Good benefits
    • A sense that they are respected
    • A feeling that their work is valued
    • Opportunities for advancement
  • Remember that the organization has made an investment in the employee. If they lose the employee, that investment is lost
  • Consider incentives and awards.
chapter 7 evaluating facilities maintenance efforts evaluating the maintenance program
Chapter 7: Evaluating Facilities Maintenance EffortsEvaluating the Maintenance Program
  • After demonstrating their support of maintenance, it is fair for stakeholders to expect the maintenance program to yield results
  • Establish measurable baselines against which progress can be measured (e.g., average time it takes to complete a work order)
  • Accurate, timely, and comparable data are the key to measuring and documenting status
  • A good computerized maintenance management system can provide the evaluation data (work orders, energy use, etc.)
chapter 7 evaluating facilities maintenance efforts measurable components of evaluation
Chapter 7: Evaluating Facilities Maintenance EffortsMeasurable Components of Evaluation
  • Number of work orders accomplished
  • Major incident reviews (e.g., number of school shutdowns, etc.)
  • “Customer” feedback
  • Weekly foreman’s meetings
  • Visual inspections by supervisors and managers
  • Comprehensive Management Audits
  • Performance Audits
  • Organizational Studies
  • Annual snapshots (cost per square foot or per student)
  • Facility Report Cards
  • Comparisons with “peer” organizations/ Peer reviews
  • Progress toward the organization’s long-range plans
  • Staff turnover rates
  • Public opinion (e.g., newspaper articles, etc.)
other forum publications
Other Forum Publications
  • School Facility Data Elements (expected July 2003)
  • Safety in Numbers: Collecting and Using Crime,Violence, and Discipline Incident Data to Make a Difference in Schools
  • Technology in Schools: Suggestions, Tools and Guidelines for Assessing Technology in Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Weaving a Secure Web Around Our Schools
  • Basic Education Finance Data Elements
  • Protecting the Privacy of Student/Staff Records
  • Building an Automated Student Record System … and more!
publication orders
Publication Orders

Browse pubs at:

For FREE single copies, call: 1-877-4ED-PUBS

For large orders, visit:

or write: U.S. Government Printing Office

New Orders, Superintendent of Documents

P.O. Box 371954

Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954