Incident IQ

K-12 Workflow Management Blog

Facilities Management Costs, Trends, & Oversight

Article Contents

Facilities management (FM) is at the heart of everything that matters in a school, namely learning, safety, and socialization. By creating clean and secure spaces, facilities managers and school administrators give their students the chance to grow academically and build the foundation for a successful future. Unfortunately, many schools struggle with providing the best possible learning environments because they don’t have the money they need.

With underfunding reaching almost $150 billion each year, K-12 schools have to find ways to properly manage their facilities without hurting their bottom lines. To help you get a better handle on your annual budget, we’ve put together a list of the biggest facilities management costs and how schools around the country are working to reduce them. We’ll also break down how using automated data reports to oversee your facilities management tasks can help keep your operating costs down.

The Biggest Costs in Facilities Management

From property upkeep to maintenance costs, facilities managers have to fund multiple projects and ongoing needs throughout each school year. That means tracking and projecting expenses for the areas that you know will make up a significant part of your budget. While your spending and allocations depend on the size, structure, and design of your school, these are the biggest FM costs to consider.

Physical Space & Utilization Costs

Public school facilities are generally large, sometimes spreading across multiple buildings, and accommodating hundreds or thousands of students in different grade levels. While governing school districts generally concern themselves with larger details, like mortgage or lease payments, how your real estate is utilized can directly affect your school’s operating expenses. Failing to use space wisely can add costs in other areas, such as storage rentals and land maintenance costs, which can drain your budget without providing any value.

The key to reducing spending on your physical space is using innovative strategies that maximize utilization without sacrificing student comfort and safety. This might include transforming an underused area of a building into a multipurpose area, or changing furniture layouts or types to save space.

On the other hand, many schools are dealing with the opposite problem: their buildings have reached or exceeded capacity. Nearly 50 million students attended elementary and secondary schools in 2021, a staggering number that reflects just how much building space public education requires. When a school runs out of space, they often have to turn to expensive and inefficient solutions, such as portable buildings and new construction. Depending on your location, the cost to construct new educational buildings for your school could reach up to $800 per square foot.

It may not be possible to resolve capacity issues with small changes, but you can keep space utilization in mind as you plan future facilities goals. Consider how to use space to its fullest extend and make adaptable areas that can meet your school’s needs as they evolve in the future.

FM Team Productivity Costs

Just like wasted space, wasted time can mean major financial losses for your school. When facilities managers don’t have a good grasp on their team’s productivity — or inefficient processes create bottlenecks that slow things down — it can deal a serious blow to your budget. If your FM team isn’t getting things done quickly enough, it drives up your labor costs and creates frustration among staff, administrators, and students.

It can be difficult for overloaded managers to properly supervise school maintenance tasks, especially if they’re dealing with issues spread across a multi-building campus. Fortunately, technology can help resolve staffing issues and achieve cost savings at the same time.

For example, an automated help desk ticket management system keeps team members on track. It provides them with all the information they need to complete their work orders, including:

  • Equipment issue histories
  • Equipment manuals
  • Warranty information
  • Asset locations and ticket progress

An automated system also performs routine tasks, such as categorizing and updating ticket statuses. This frees employees up to perform repairs, follow up on issues, and generally become more productive.

Equipment Life Cycle Costs

School equipment and asset breakdowns can turn an otherwise sound budget on its head and leave facilities managers scrambling to cover the unexpected costs. They also lead to downtime, which can create disruptions for individuals or the entire school. Equipment breakdowns are a very real concern for schools, especially considering that approximately 36,000 K-12 schools in the United States needed to replace or update their HVAC systems as of 2020.

Reducing repair costs and improving upkeep strategies is an excellent way to cut your overall facilities management spending. According to a recent study, schools could save $1.8 billion if they could double the lifespans of their Chromebooks. While some of that responsibility falls on the manufacturer, schools can also take steps to limit the need for device replacements.

Your approach to maintenance has a major part to play in your equipment life cycles and facilities management costs. With a preventative maintenance plan, you’ll service systems and equipment on a set schedule rather than waiting for them to fail. The average cost of an emergency repair far exceeds what you’ll spend on a regular maintenance plan.

If you want to stretch your savings even further, consider the benefits of preventive vs. predictive maintenance. Schools with predictive maintenance rely on technology to monitor equipment performance. When the system flags an issue, often based on recurring ticket submissions, asset age, or other predictive measures, the maintenance team can intervene right away, preventing a failure or error before it occurs.

School asset management software is another tool that allows you to cut back on the number of damaged or destroyed devices in your facility. You’ll have access to critical information, including when an asset was last serviced or repaired, when it’s due for upgrades, and whether it’s experiencing any chronic issues.

Vendor/Service Provider Costs

Most K-12 schools handle some of their facilities management and maintenance in-house. In most cases, they also rely on third-party vendors, such as:

  • Janitorial services
  • Landscaping
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • HVAC specialists

Expenditures for service providers are well worth it because they ensure your building maintenance is consistent and effective. However, without clear communication and constant oversight, they can also cause financial strain.

From bringing in IT consultants to examine a Wi-Fi network to outsourcing custodial services in schools, facilities management software is a cost-saving solution. It’s capable of tracking work hours, costs, and employee performance so that you can identify issues and bring them up with the service provider. The data from this software can also help you renegotiate a contract or make replacements for equipment issues that require excessive service appointments.

As the needs of K-12 schools continue to change, facilities managers adopt new approaches to make sure they aren’t going over budget. These are some of the most popular trends schools are using to cut back on their spending:

  • Focus on Sustainability: A growing number of schools are finding ways to improve their energy efficiency, which minimizes their environmental impact and saves money. There are also proven facility impacts on student performance, which regular maintenance and building upkeep can help improve.
  • Investments in IoT Technology: Internet of Things (IoT) devices can cut energy costs by optimizing equipment and system performance. They also create reductions in supplies by allowing teachers, students, and staff to complete their work in a digital format rather than on paper.
  • Optimizing Facility Space Usage: As student enrollments continue to rise, schools continue to look for new ways to take advantage of the space they have available to them. A major task for many districts is finding ways to redesign and repurpose existing spaces, from individual rooms to entire buildings.
  • Increased Reliance on Preventative Maintenance: Although many schools already use regular maintenance to keep costs down, there’s been an increasing shift toward preventative measures. Monitoring and consistently servicing equipment lowers the need for repairs and allows team members to react more quickly if a system breaks down.
  • Increased Decision-Making from Metrics & Analytics: Having access to school maintenance KPIs improves your decision-making and resource allocation. When you review key metrics and benchmarking related to your facilities, you can find ways to lower your spending.

If implementing all of these trends in your own school seems daunting, keep in mind that even one of them can have a major impact on your spending. Consider your school’s specific needs to determine which changes will be most beneficial. Learn more about the most prominent school facilities maintenance trends for 2024 to help guide your planning.

Choosing the Right CMMS to Supercharge Cost Savings at Your School

For a school to open its doors and create opportunities for students each day, the building has to be in good working order. Facilities management makes that happen, keeping equipment running and the environment safe for everyone inside. With the right strategies, techniques, and tools, school leaders can make their facilities safe and productive without breaking the bank.

Incident IQ offers a superior solution for K-12 facilities and asset management. It allows facilities managers to streamline work orders, build a better long-term school maintenance plan, and get actionable data from IT asset management reporting. With features including workflow management and automated reporting, Incident IQ’s facilities management software and asset management software help you achieve the end goal of substantial cost savings and a stronger facilities budget.When you’re ready to see how Incident IQ can optimize your K-12 facilities management processes and reduce costs, schedule a free demo to see it in action.