Key takeaways you will find in this article

  • California's educational facility standards ensure all students attend schools that are safe and functional
  • Proper maintenance and regular inspections are crucial for ensuring school facilities meet California's FIT standards and provide a safe learning environment
  • Effective facilities management software helps maintain school conditions, enhancing the educational environment and securing state funding

There are countless factors that go into the student experience, class size, textbooks, and instruction. But an often overlooked, yet equally critical, is facility condition

Schools’ function and aesthetics are essential for providing a great education. That’s why California instituted rigorous educational facility standards. 

Their approach to school inspections is designed to ensure every child in the state can attend schools that meet a quality threshold. 

But while the thought behind the standards are well-intended, they can cause stress for school districts and facilities professionals. However, that doesn’t have to be the case.

With technological solutions, every districts adherence to California FIT standards can be relatively stress-free. 

Before we discuss how these tools can help with FIT, we’ll review a little of the background behind California’s standards. 

How California FIT inspections started

FIT was developed as a result of the settlement in the landmark legal case—Williams v. California.

In 2000, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a class-action lawsuit against the state of California on behalf of public school students. The case contended that the state denied thousands of students their fundamental educational rights under the state constitution.

This legal battle continued for years before the parties reached a settlement in 2004. This culminated in the Williams Settlement Legislation, which established new state standards.

The state uses these standards to ensure all public school students can access essential resources. That includes textbooks, instructional materials, qualified teachers, and safe, functional school facilities.

The state began inspecting classrooms using this framework to evaluate school conditions and the student experience. Today, school districts use its criteria to maintain their buildings preemptively. 

All districts must self-evaluate to ensure textbook and facility standards compliance. Inspectors report the overall condition of facilities, the availability of textbooks and instructional materials, and the number of teacher misassignments and teacher vacancies in the annual School Accountability Report Cards (SARCs). 

Deciphering the Three Parts of FIT inspection

FIT inspections are divided into three distinctive parts: The good repair standard, evaluation detail, and category totals and ranking, overall rating, and comments. We will detail a bit more about each. 

Good repair standard (Part I)

At the core of FIT lies the good repair standard, which emphasizes the importance of maintaining school facilities in a state that is clean, safe, and fully functional. This standard is the cornerstone for assessing the overall condition of school buildings and premises.

Evaluation detail (Part II)

The evaluation detail component of FIT entails a meticulous assessment process conducted using a site inspection template. This template, comprising 15 distinct categories, enables officials to conduct a comprehensive review of various areas within the school facility. 

From infrastructure essentials like gas, sewer, and mechanical systems to factors such as cleanliness, pest infestation, and fire safety, inspectors meticulously evaluate each category to determine whether the facility meets the criteria for “good repair.”

Category totals and ranking, overall rating, and comments (Part III)

Following the detailed evaluation, FIT generates a comprehensive report that includes category totals, overall rating, and space for comments and rating explanations. This holistic assessment provides stakeholders with valuable insights into the condition of the school facility and areas that require attention or improvement.

Evaluators look at each of the following:

Gas — Inspectors look at lines to ensure there are no leaks, cracks, or other safety issues

Sewers — Evaluators look at pipes to determine proper function

Mechanical systems — Inspectors evaluate HVAC systems, elevators, and other mechanical systems to ensure they’re in good working order

Interior surfaces — The state evaluates floors, walls, and ceilings for cracks and other signs of disrepair

Overall cleanliness — The general appearance of the facility is evaluated to ensure that conditions are sanitary

Pest infestation — Inspectors look for rodents, bugs, and other invasive animals to ensure schools don’t have pest  control issues

Electrical — Evaluators examine things like fuse boxes, wiring, and lighting systems to ensure they’re not hazards and are in proper working order 

Restrooms — Restrooms must be in proper condition and meet certain ADA compliance standards

Structural damage — Inspectors evaluate the structural integrity of a building like its loadbearing walls, support columns, etc. 

Sinks/fountains — Sinks and fountains must be functional and in good working order

Roofs — Inspectors evaluate a building’s roof to ensure it’s structurally viable and free from leaks 

Playgrounds/school grounds — Much like a building’s interior, its exterior, like the grounds and play equipment, must not be a safety hazard

Fire safety — Evaluators look for clear and accessible fire exits as well as fire extinguishers 

Windows, doors, fences — These must be functional without breaks, gaps, or other issues 

Hazardous materials — Schools must properly dispose of hazardous materials 

Facilities professionals at schools across California and other states that use similar standards must continually assess their buildings to ensure they’re up to standards. These assessments have a direct impact on budgets and state funding.

Because of the breadth of assessment points, leading facilities managers leverage technological platforms to keep their work in order. Let’s look at how those solutions can help.

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How facilities management software helps with FIT inspections

Facilities management software emerged as a transformative tool for school districts seeking to streamline operations, perform preventive maintenance, and ensure regulatory compliance. These platforms allow staff to effectively track, monitor, and maintain school systems, adhering to FIT standards.

Without an effective software solution, facilities managers must track, assign, and monitor FIT inspection tasks manually. Not only is this time-consuming and inefficient, but it can also lead to significant gaps in maintenance performance. Any such deficiencies can jeopardize school and student performance and lead to state funding reductions.

An effective facilities management software solution allows facilities professionals to track a school’s safety and functionality. Users can manage work orders, preventive maintenance, inventory, and follow FIT guidelines. 

Steps to performing a successful facility inspection: schedule inspection, inspect, record results, export report.

FMX paves the way for FIT inspection excellence

FMX offers a dedicated Facility Inspection Tool tailored to educational institutions’ unique needs. With FMX, schools can seamlessly manage work orders, preventive maintenance, inventory, and more while ensuring compliance with FIT requirements.

From scheduling FIT inspections to identifying areas for improvement, FMX empowers schools to proactively manage their facilities and provide a safe and conducive learning environment for students.

FMX's Facility Inspection Tool shows state standards for districts to adhere to.

FMX offers users a system that allows them to track, schedule, manage, and record FIT inspections in one platform. The solution gives users the ability to auto-generate a FIT report to send to the state and ensure schools are in good repair. 

Want to master FIT inspections? Reach out to discuss FMX today.

Reviewed by

Written by

Matt Pace

K-12 Practice Leader at FMX

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