Incident IQ

K-12 Workflow Management Blog

Use Cases: Community Use of Public School Facilities

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It’s no secret that public school budgets often run tight, but most people – even those working in the education industry – may not appreciate the magnitude of the issue. In fact, the Economic Policy Institute recently called for an overhaul of public education funding. 

Until help arrives at scale, one way school districts can close this gap is by renting out their facilities to generate additional income. Classrooms can serve as spaces for adult continuing education or English as a second language (ESL) classes. You could rent your parking area to a local farmer’s market or offer paid parking for nearby local attractions. School buildings with unusual features or interesting architecture might make a desirable backdrop for photo shoots.

Brainstorming use cases for your spaces is one thing. As a K-12 facilities manager, your top priorities will be ensuring user safety, meeting insurance requirements, and adhering to community standards and school district rules for facility use.

To do that, you need an idea of who can typically use public school facilities, any key considerations around their usage, and the importance of event management resources in streamlining operations.

Who Can Use Public School Facilities

Most public school facilities are open for community use; however, they’re not exactly public property, and specific use cases may vary – especially if someone wants to use the facilities on a school day. Policies on your use of school property will depend on national, state, and local laws, school district regulations, and individual school policies. 

You might also have to consider any stipulations set forth by other stakeholders, including your school board and superintendent. Your school principal and teachers will likely have a say in how facilities are used, too – especially if you’re considering making classrooms available for rental. 

Once you’ve confirmed the specific usage limitations for your school buildings, it’s time to identify and reach out to groups within your community that commonly need to rent space. We’ve identified a few below, but this list is not exhaustive. School facility management software can help you keep things organized as you begin working with these groups to devise creative ways to use your spaces.

Public school facilities are not only for learning during school hours but also for fostering community and celebrating student achievements. Though offering the use of school buildings to in-school groups may not generate the most revenue, it’s a great way to showcase these spaces for people who may want to rent them for other functions. Here are a few options to consider:

  • After-School Programs: Special clubs and organizations allow students to explore interests not typically covered during school hours, such as theater, book and debate clubs, or even vocational and life-skills training. Efficient facility management ensures that spaces and resources, such as computer stations or art supplies, are readily available for running an after school program.
  • Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) Meetings: The PTA plays a significant role in fostering collaboration between parents and teachers throughout the school year. Holding meetings within the school facilities allows for direct engagement in the environment where students learn and grow. Ensure essential equipment like projector screens and microphones are available to facilitate effective conversations.
  • Graduation Ceremonies: Often serving as school year capstones, these events are monumental for elementary school, secondary school, and high school students alike. Planning school events like these involves meticulous coordination around staging, lighting, and seating arrangements – not to mention a speaker’s podium and microphone.

By effectively planning, scheduling, preparing, and managing school facilities, you can set the stage for effective and memorable programs for all your school-group constituents. Demonstrating your school and facilities staff’s ability to support school activities can help spread positive word-of-mouth and set you up for more lucrative opportunities with other groups.

Youth Associations

Local youth groups contribute significantly to community building and child development. Public school facilities can play a pivotal role in supporting these essential organizations by providing versatile spaces to accommodate their needs. Here are a few youth organizations schools commonly host for events.

  • Boy/Girl Scout Meetings: School facilities offer a safe and structured environment where scouts can learn life skills, play games, and build lasting friendships.
  • Summer/Winter Camps: Schools can be used for summer and winter camps when school is not in session. It is important to maintain the playgrounds for these camps. An efficient way to do this is to use a playground inspection checklist.
  • Youth Sports Leagues: An integral part of physical education, youth sports leagues make extensive use of school athletic fields for activities like flag football, softball, baseball, and soccer. Facilities like basketball and tennis courts can also provide essential practice spots for young athletes to develop skills.

From coordinating the maintenance of athletic fields to effectively coordinating space for Scout meetings and seasonal camps, facility managers are central to ensuring youth associations can effectively use school grounds for activities. A facilities management system can eliminate scheduling mishaps and guesswork, allowing you to focus on delivering a great experience.

Local and Community Groups

By opening your school to adult education classes, theater groups, and nonprofit organizations, you can turn it into a hub of community activity whenever classes are not in session. 

Not only can doing so bring in additional revenue, but enabling community use of school facilities establishes your school as a place of lifelong learning and social support within the neighborhood. We’ve highlighted some ways local and community groups might utilize your facilities, but this list is not exhaustive.

  • Adult Education Classes: School facilities offer a familiar, accessible environment for adults looking to expand their knowledge and skills through continuing education, life skills development, and ESL classes. 
  • Theater Rentals by Local Dance/Drama Troupes: Live theater is a fantastic way to engage your community and support local performance groups. Dance and music school recitals hosted in your school’s auditorium or theater can highlight students’ hard work and dedication.
  • Meetings and Events by Non-Profits: Nonprofit organizations, including support groups like 12-step AAA/NAA programs and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), community action groups, and professional clubs, can find a welcoming space in school facilities. These meetings and events foster community engagement and support, leveraging the school’s resources for social good.

By employing effective school facilities management strategies, facility managers play a crucial role in enhancing community engagement with school buildings. Maintaining the school grounds in pristine condition, facilitating space and scheduling logistics, and fostering fundraising partnerships with community organizations are all great ways to position your school buildings as centers of community life.

Government and Public Sector Departments

Public school facilities are invaluable assets not just for educational purposes but also for a variety of general public engagements facilitated by government and public sector departments. Due to their centralized locations and spacious environments, these facilities can offer public access and serve diverse community needs. Here are some common public use cases for school facilities.

  • Polling Stations: Schools centrally located within the community can serve as polling stations, increasing voting access for the general public. 
  • Local Community Meetings: Schools offer the perfect venue for hosting meetings on community interests, such as neighborhood clean-up plans or local initiatives. Their use fosters a sense of community engagement and collective responsibility among residents.
  • Vaccination Drives: Schools can play a crucial role in public health by hosting vaccination programs in large spaces like the gymnasium. You could also open your facilities for a blood drive or even allow a mobile blood bank to set up in your parking lot to increase visibility and attract donors.

Facility managers must optimize these engagements by meticulously planning and managing school facilities. By leveraging facilities management solutions that include a master calendar for tracking space, equipment, and workflow requirements, managers can ensure these events run smoothly.

Private Organizations

From auditoriums to sports fields, public schools offer versatile spaces that can serve various needs for private organizations. However, facility availability heavily depends on government regulations, local norms, and policies set forth by your school board. These restrictions ensure that facilities’ primary educational purpose is not compromised.

Common uses for private organizations renting public school facilities include:

  • Conferences: Market your school to private organizations—especially those that are education-based—as an alternative to traditional venues. Keynote presentations could be held in your auditorium, with classrooms serving as breakout rooms.
  • Music Classes & Performances: Public schools’ music rooms, auditoriums, and other performance spaces offer the perfect acoustics and setting for private music classes, band rehearsals, choir performances, and more. 
  • Private Events: Public school facilities can accommodate everything from job fairs and local sports tournaments to outdoor performances and educational presentations. You could also offer paid parking for nearby private events.

Facilities managers are crucial in meeting the needs of the school and the renting organization. You should keep a master calendar for the use of the facilities, track facility management costs to set appropriate usage fees, and maintain an archive of each signed use agreement. 

Key Factors to Consider Regarding Community Use of Public School Facilities

As a K-12 Facilities Manager, you’ll need to be keenly aware of your facilities’ preparedness for hosting events and groups. You’ll also need to understand various legal restrictions around their use, insurance considerations, and event management logistics to ensure compliance, safety, and operational efficiency.

Ensuring the use and rental of your public school facilities aligns with national regulations, state law, and local laws – not to mention any specific rules set forth by your board of education or school district – is crucial. Adherence to the school facilities master plan created by your department of education helps safeguard the school system from uses that could have a negative financial impact on operations while respecting the mandates of board members and various community stakeholders. 

Liability Insurance and Other Prerequisites

Any group using the school grounds must follow all the procedures and meet the prerequisites needed to use the facilities. This usually includes obtaining necessary permissions and ensuring the school is named as an additional insured on relevant liability insurance policies. 

You should always verify that any group using your facilities has the appropriate liability insurance coverage and understands the terms, conditions, and fee schedule of their insurance. Groups should also confirm they understand any insurance restrictions that might apply regarding the use of public school facilities.

Event and Facility Management

Facility managers who need to oversee planning, booking, equipment allocation, and maintenance for rental operations need effective event planning and facilities management resources close at hand. 

You can leverage school facility management software to streamline the reservation of rooms, A/V equipment, and other resources, ensuring events run smoothly from start to finish while following school building maintenance best practices. You can also assign team members to assist with event management processes, from booking the space to preparing for and hosting the event.

Booking software and ticketing tools ensure spaces are appropriately managed and automatically keep event calendars up-to-date. These tools can also aid with tracking adherence to facility management goals.

Manage Your Public School Events with Incident IQ

The Century Foundation reports that K-12 American public schools are underfunded by $150 billion annually. Leveraging your existing facilities outside of school hours (and in compliance with laws, ordinances, and regulations surrounding their use) can open up a vital revenue stream and help your district close some of the gap.

But going from facilities manager to event planner doesn’t happen overnight (or without some serious help). School event management software like Incident IQ offers robust capabilities that can be a game-changer for facility managers looking to optimize their management of public school events. With features like event reservation requests, event preparation workflows, and integrated event calendars, our comprehensive suite of tools facilitates the planning and execution of school events, ensuring adherence to facility management and maintenance best practices.

Schedule a demo of Incident IQ today to see how it can help streamline public school events management for your facilities.