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K-12 Workflow Management Blog

Best Practices for School Building Maintenance

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Your school likely already has a building maintenance plan in place—and if it doesn’t, it’s critical for you to implement one immediately.

Timely and thorough facility maintenance keeps school buildings operating efficiently, and maintains a proper learning environment for staff and students to be as productive as possible. Maintenance plans help keep students and staff safe, and as a bonus, they save the school system money on long-term costs.

A detailed maintenance program is essential for all building types, ranging from elementary school to high school. Read on to see our tips offered that can help optimize your K-12 facilities management plan.

Why Practice School Building Maintenance?

Maintaining school facilities is as much a part of running a successful K-12 school as choosing the right curriculum or hiring the best instructors.

There are five key goals for school facility management that K-12 leaders need to keep in mind when putting together a school building maintenance program. These include the following:

1. Improve Performance and Efficiency of School Facilities

Effective maintenance teams realize that maintaining school facilities is only the first half of the job. The other half involves thinking of new ways to improve the performance and efficiency of school buildings and infrastructure, such as automating functions (like lighting and air conditioning), and effectively managing how space is used. Implementing more efficient processes helps lengthen the life of your assets while bringing down school costs.

2. Improve Internal Facilities Management Processes

Successfully streamlining your facility management processes will reduce the number of outstanding work orders your maintenance teams have on their plates at any given time. Providing a dedicated portal or process for submitting work orders, scheduling preventative maintenance, and keeping accurate records of service performed on district assets will help you achieve this goal.

3. Extend Asset Life Expectancy

Preventive maintenance gives busy K-12 facility management teams the ability to avoid equipment breakdowns due to negligence or irregular maintenance. It also enables Facility Managers to plan for improvements and upgrades instead of constantly dealing with emergencies. This can reduce stress among staff and may reduce employee turnover. 

4. Lower Maintenance Costs

Enhancing maintenance team efficiency and extending the lifespan of school equipment and assets has a direct impact on lowering maintenance costs. Keeping equipment in good working order lets assets run in the most cost-effective manner possible, which also prevents your team from having to spend their time on multiple maintenance activities to service the same items.

5. Intentional Process Improvements and Enhanced Effectiveness

Using facility management software allows you to get actionable feedback through analytics and metrics. You can create reports and summaries that allow you to track things like work order completion times, how long work orders took, etc, and see how long certain work orders take and optimize your processes.

Bonus Benefit: Improved Learning Environment

Properly functioning school facilities maintenance plans improve the overall learning environment in a school by ensuring a safe and operational space for teachers to teach and for students to learn.

When HVAC systems, electrical power, smartboards, computers and projectors are all operating properly, teachers and students are set up for success. While much of a Facility Manager’s job may be taken for granted by the students, your work directly impacts their success—which is all the more reason to make sure you and your team provide a safe environment for student learning and well-being.

What’s Included in a Typical Facilities Management Plan?

Facilities management plans should look fairly similar from one K-12 district to the next, with a list of items to manage and maintain in each of the following areas:

  • Building Grounds – Regular maintenance would include all building exteriors as well as lawn, sidewalk, and parking lot care. Landscaping is included in the care of all building grounds that surround all school buildings.
  • Building Interior – Custodial staff should make sure all surface areas are cleaned and sanitized, and that COVID-19 cleaning procedures are followed. Classrooms, restrooms, offices, and extracurricular areas are all included in the management of building interiors.
  • HVAC Systems – The facilities management team is responsible for following an inspection and maintenance schedule (usually created and provided by the team manager) for air conditioners, boilers, exhaust fans, and vents.
  • Electrical Systems – Maintenance of electrical systems would include all electrical equipment as well as lighting systems and fixtures. Systems must also be operated to produce and maintain the most effective energy management. 
  • Plumbing Systems – A facility management plan would include installing, inspecting, and repairing all plumbing fixtures and systems in a school building. Plumbing fixtures and systems would include toilets, sinks, and fixtures.
  • Alarm and Security Systems – It’s imperative that all alarm systems and safety equipment are regularly inspected and maintained. This would specifically include all flame and smoke sensors, fire extinguishers, exit lights, and security cameras and monitors.
  • Indoor Air Quality – Everything from mold to radon must be tested for and managed correctly. Even if serious air pollutants aren’t detected, good air circulation is essential for a good learning environment. See our blog for more effects of proper air quality.

Best Practices for Optimizing School Building Maintenance

When putting together a facility management plan, it’s important to remember that not all maintenance plans are equal. Even if your district already has one in place, there is likely some room for improvement. With that in mind, there are four best practices that every school district should follow when optimizing their school maintenance plan.

Reach Out for School Board Input

Usually, the school board will have specific rules and guidelines that must be followed regarding school maintenance and repairs. Partnering with the school board is essential when finding out what facilities management requirements may influence general operations or public school funding.

Take a detailed list of all maintenance needs—both current and anticipated—to the next school board meeting, or send it in an email to collect opinions. Encourage board members to review, plan resources, and even add items to your maintenance plan. When you work together with your school board, you’ll be in a better place to ask for additional funding for required maintenance tasks later down the road.

Plan the Timing of Maintenance Tasks & Trainings

An ideal school maintenance plan will include set dates and schedules for inspecting, repairing, and maintaining all aspects of different facility buildings. You can optimize your existing plan by pre-scheduling regular and in-depth maintenance for each specific asset or area in your facility. Every area of school maintenance must be found within at least one area of the plan.

Your maintenance plan should include tasks for quarterly, bi-annual, or annual inspections and cleanings for all major assets, and include the following:

  • Detailed standard and preventative maintenance schedules, with specific times throughout the school year when each type of maintenance is to be conducted.
  • Who on the custodial team is responsible for each particular inspection and maintenance duty.
  • Planned dates for continued maintenance-related trainings
  • Planned monthly or quarterly checks to ensure tasks are being completed as scheduled

Lean on Your Expert (and Non-Expert) Teams

Of course, you’ve got your experienced facilities team that you can rely on for your day-to-day work. In addition, most school systems bring in service professionals (like electricians and plumbers) to handle facilities issues in their schools, so facilities managers should always utilize these individuals whenever possible for technical projects. A professional electrician or plumber should be brought in for projects that require this type of expertise.

However, facilities leaders can—and should—also lean on support staff and faculty to help with smaller projects, such as inventory management. Everyone from custodians to support staff members can be empowered to carry out basic functions, such as tasking teachers with basic Chromebook cleaning after collecting their students’ used devices at the end of the year.

Implement a Strong Workflow Software

Facilities Managers have two main options for tracking projects as they come in: they can use a homegrown system (with Excel, printed email requests, or otherwise), or they can use dedicated facilities management software.

Unfortunately, homegrown inventory management systems tend to fail frequently, and it happens for several reasons. Spreadsheet systems provide limited visibility into workflows and the overall effectiveness of your team. They also take time to set up and manually manage, and are prone to human error, resulting in incomplete tickets and inaccurate data.

Implementing strong workflow software for school district facilities management is the best way to save on long-term costs, maintain a 360-degree view of all assets, and keep large amounts of data accurately.

Generally, a school district is better off using a system or software that’s built specifically for K-12 maintenance and management. This empowers facility teams to stay on top of their preventative maintenance tasks, check to see any overdue issues, assign and follow up on work orders, and identify and rectify bottlenecks or other issues in advance of them becoming a problem. Managers can even keep tabs on assets and labor costs at a high level. Each aspect of facilities management is covered in one system, providing clear data and visibility.

Transform Your School Building Maintenance Program with Incident IQ

Everything from air conditioning systems to buildings and grounds must be professionally maintained in order to promote the most effective learning environment possible. Incident IQ can help a school district streamline its building maintenance program through expert software and digitizing service delivery.

When it comes to facilities management, Incident IQ simplifies work order processes, generates work orders according to schedule, manages inventory levels, and tracks labor hours—and that doesn’t even take into account everything our platform can do for your asset management and ticketing processes.

Give us a call and see how Incident IQ helps K-12 school districts implement best practices for school building maintenance.