Even as the last students and teachers leave their school buildings across the country each May and June, facilities management crews are hard at work from the last day of class to the first day of school. Buildings and areas that cannot be repaired, renovated, or maintained during class hours are finally and fully accessible to maintenance staff.
District administrators are also hard at work strategizing on ways to increase resources for the next academic year. A key source is community programs and events that are hosted in school facilities all summer long, but it’s no easy task to coordinate, especially in larger districts that oversee hundreds of schools. There’s no summer break for facility managers at this level of leadership!
Facilities management is no easy task, but it doesn’t need to be impossible. Here are three keys to tackling the process with year-round efficiency and minimal stress.
1. Think ahead
Have next school year’s facility management plan in place before the end of the current year to support the success of planned summer projects and identify crucial needs in particular buildings. This will help you be fully prepared for the new school year.
Before starting back-to-school planning, make sure facilities managers meet with principals to discuss any issues that teachers and administrators may have raised in past quarters. This input has been found to be essential in determining the needs of all district-owned property across the nation to handle the return of thousands of students and employees.
Additionally, consult with your business administrator to review expenses associated with issues brought up at the start of a new fiscal year and academic year. Position yourself to complete any repairs, upgrades, or general maintenance within the parameters of the district’s budget by planning well in advance and monitoring extensive needs.
Conduct a thorough evaluation of all major and minor construction projects and create completion schedules that take the return of students to their classes into consideration. To prevent any interruption to employees and students, this includes planning big projects for the summer and scheduling smaller ones during breaks throughout the school year or on second shift.
2. Follow your development
Stay on top of which facilities still need cleaning or repairs and which are prepared for the resumption of classes. For administrators, keeping track of the preparation’s components is helpful. Using a master checklist system, for example, allows for listing every element for attention in a specific building, to complete a back-to-school tune-up.
Build smaller, space-specific checklists to post outside each room. Lists can be exceedingly detailed to accommodate a top-to-bottom clean of every building space to give the optimal learning environment for pupils. Remove carpets, fully dust all building spaces, disinfect surfaces, wax hard floors, and replace air filters to remove and minimize the return of irritants like allergy and asthma triggers are minimized. In addition, major construction projects completed over the summer should be fully put to bed. Any resulting dust, damage, or debris should be addressed during the deep cleaning process.
Districts can integrate these checklist procedures with calendaring software from https://www.facilitron.com/facility-owners/work-order-management/.
Every aspect of the back-to-school cleaning and construction process can be tracked, which blocks off specific areas for maintenance priorities and makes sure that no end-of-summer activities take place during the last two weeks before school starts. Administrators can give priority to maintenance deadlines and maintain open places for the grounds and maintenance staff to work without restriction by reserving areas throughout the district.
3. Carefully plan and communicate
It’s not uncommon for multiple groups to request or lay claim to the same facility areas at the start of a new school year. These include year-round community meetings, summer camp activities, classroom preparation by teachers, morning and after-school programs, and facility maintenance tasks carried out by grounds and maintenance staff. Be honest with all stakeholders to stay ahead of potential conflicts using the same management system for maintenance scheduling to satisfy space requirements without double booking.
To ensure that facility staff have complete access to any area in a district building and that community groups are aware that access to space may change, be sure to reserve back-to-school preparation time in your calendar system. It can be challenging to complete final details, but this is a step to guarantee a smooth opening more closely by avoiding summer camp activities and other gatherings to be hosted too soon to the first day of school.
Administrators should retain highly specific scheduling records to specify which facilities are scheduled, when those facilities are available, and those are not yet ready for the new school year to maintain good communication and transparency throughout the district. Community groups can access available or reserved space after requests have been filtered by a centralized system. By doing this, the district and the community can communicate more effectively.
Groups can anticipate any potential changes to meeting times well in advance if districts disclose these needs to the larger community with transparent and accessible calendars. When the school year starts, certain groups might be permitted to utilize school facilities after class hours. Additionally, by announcing this availability and organizing it across all the schools in a district, these important gathering places can continue to be used year-round without interfering with the academics. Building maintenance and repairs take place in the background, frequently without the knowledge of students and teachers. Maintaining a safe, healthy environment for children and instructors is of the utmost importance to the facilities staff.
Facility management teams work to make sure that the buildings and grounds are in the condition they need to be to support the educational needs of the school and the community at large, and it’s a year-round task. This includes monitoring indoor air quality, managing pest-related issues, and meeting compliance standards. With advance planning and solid tools and technology in place, you can make the process simpler for your district and each school in it to be diligent with scheduling, transparent with communication, and effective preparation.