If you look at a district’s mission statement, many sound similar to this: “To foster student learning with world-class instruction.” With students at the forefront of a district’s purpose, each department is responsible for ensuring their projects and priorities align with the students’ well-being. And for the facilities management department, that means ensuring your schools are in ideal condition to facilitate learning.
Let’s dive into what a best-in-class facilities management department does to foster effective student learning.
1. Source additional funds for students
Districts across the country are constantly seeking ways to save money. Why? Because you can redirect every dollar saved toward the student’s benefit.
If your district isn’t already using facilities management software to manage its maintenance, scheduling, facility rental processes, and assets, you’re missing out on immediate cost savings.
There are three main ways the software helps you save money.
Reduce your school’s energy usage
“According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), K-12 schools in America annually spend an average of $0.67 per square foot on electricity and $0.19 per square foot on natural gas. For example, a typical 1,000-student high school requires around 173,730 square feet to accommodate its students. This means that a school of this size might pay around $149,500 for energy depending on its location, consumption practices, and ratio of electricity to natural gas usage.” – Costanalysts.com
District facilities run during the school day and after-school hours to accommodate sports practice, girl scout meetings, parent-teacher conferences, fundraisers, and more. More often than not, technicians are needed to turn the lights and HVAC units on and off and lock and unlock the doors for these events. But what if your building automation system (BAS) could automatically turn your district “on” and “off” following your event calendar? On average, districts save ~$66,000 annually by integrating their event schedule with their BAS. Learn more!
Facilities management software’s utility tracking and forecasting capabilities take the savings even further. The software monitors and records your utility bills, allowing users to identify energy waste, pinpoint cost savings, showcase success to stakeholders, boost sustainability efforts, and more. In fact, the former facilities manager of Queen Creek Unified District in Arizona saved the district $70,000 in annual costs by using the insights in his software and increasing the temperature in the hallways by 2 degrees (from 74° to 76°).
Reduce equipment and asset failure
Facilities management software allows your team to schedule recurring preventive maintenance inspections on your assets and equipment. Following manufacturer guidelines and performing routine maintenance on your assets increases asset lifespan and reduces breakdowns.
For example, if we consider all of the HVAC equipment in your district’s buildings, it’s crucial to perform bi-annual inspections to keep them running smoothly. This ensures that your students have a comfortable learning environment and reduces costly repair or replacement costs for your units.
Use facility rentals to supplement funding
Many districts rent their schools and rooms to the community for fundraising, sporting events, and more. But not all districts charge fees for renting these spaces. This is a massive opportunity for your facilities department to make money.
Facilities management software acts as a request portal for community members to input rental requests and also keeps track of payments, liability, insurance, deposits, remaining balances, contracts, etc. While facilities management software does have an upfront cost, districts have been able to use school funding to purchase the system. From there, the money the district makes from its rental program can be used for whatever student needs arise.
So, what can this money be used for?
Let’s be conservative and say that your district can save $100,000 yearly with the above efforts. That money can be invested right back into student learning. Let’s take a look at what $100,000 will get your district:
- A new school bus: Ensure students have safe, reliable transportation to and from school
- A new computer lab: Give your students the information they need to succeed at their fingertips with a new computer lab, fully funded with facilities savings
- A 3-D print lab: Create inventors and engage reluctant learners with this innovative technology
- A STEM lab: Give your students hands-on-learning activities that allow them to apply technology, science, math, and engineering skills
- A guidance counselor: Give your students a trusted mentor to go to in times of need
- A teacher or two: Increase the teacher:pupil ratio in your district with one or two more teachers
- 400 Chromebooks: Elevate the teaching and learning experiences for your staff and students
2. Improve the learning environment
Several studies tie student performance to better learning environments. Kids thrive and learn in environments where they feel safe, comfortable, and inspired.
So what can your facilities department do to improve your district’s learning environment?
Control the air temperature
According to several analyses, students perform best when the room temperature is between 68° and 74°. Properly inspecting your HVAC units and performing regular preventive maintenance keep your students comfortable and ready to learn. You can track all of these tasks in your facilities management system.
Provide adequate natural lighting
Research has also shown that students thrive in natural lighting as opposed to artificial lighting. One study found that students with the most exposure to natural sunlight performed 20% better in math and 26% in reading than those with the least exposure to natural sunlight. Ensure classrooms are located closest to the windows and encourage teachers to open their blinds to let in the light! You can keep these tips, inspection timelines, and any associated checklists in your facilities management system.
Ventilate your schools
Research has shown that students don’t perform as well or attend school as frequently in poorly ventilated classrooms. To keep your schools adequately ventilated, you’ll want to do the following:
- Run ventilation equipment during school hours, even if the air feels too hot or too cold or the unit is noisy
- Allow a minimum of three feet of space around the air handling unit
- Don’t place items on top of or in front of the units
You can keep these tips, inspection timelines, and checklists in a facilities management software solution. Discover more ways to keep the air in your district well-ventilated.
Optimize classroom space
Overcrowded classrooms are linked to poor student engagement and decreased learning opportunities. If there are opportunities to fill your classrooms with movable furniture and walls, this is a great way to inspire learning, critical thinking, and different teaching methods. Discover more ways to optimize your classroom space.
Provide students with adequate resources
Your opportunities as a facilities department stretch beyond what’s mentioned above. Some districts use their facilities management software to keep track of resources and available spaces for each student. For instance, one district uses the scheduling aspect of facilities management software to ensure IEP students have access to the teachers and private study rooms they need to succeed.
3. Justify new expenses
Districts have started to use the reporting features in facilities management software to justify additional resources or staff. Here are a few insights districts can draw from the reports and dashboards:
- Each staff’s workload: Is your team working too much or too little? Are certain staff members working harder than others, or are they more efficient with their time? If each team member is consistently working overtime, you will likely be able to make the case to upper management to hire additional staff by showing them the data.
- Poor performing equipment: The reports will show you how frequently your equipment fails, how long it is down, and the resources it takes to get it back up and running. This data can justify replacing older, outdated equipment with more efficient equipment.
You must ensure you have the team and resources needed to provide students with optimal learning conditions. Start justifying your needs immediately with easy-to-consume reports and dashboards. Learn how one district uses reports every day to find new ways to save money and become more efficient.
Student comfort and student safety are crucial when it comes to educating young minds. Each time you service equipment or find new ways to save money and keep students comfortable, you’re helping your district achieve its goals. If you’re looking for a solution to help you manage all of your operations in one system, check out FMX’s facilities management software built specifically for schools.