In this article, we will be covering the following:
- An overview of facility planning
- Tips for creating a strategic plan
- A template and examples of school facilities planning
- Next steps for how to use the master plan
What is the purpose of developing a master facilities plan?
A facilities plan serves as both a blueprint and a road map for your facilities. It establishes alignment across your school board, superintendent, district leaders, operations team, and (in the best cases) community member committee.
In a nutshell, facilities master planning will tie the district vision statement, education specifications, enrollment projections, renovation needs, and construction projects together into a master plan. It is used to create visibility on school facility needs, secure the proper funding, and share your plan with the community member committee, school board, and other involved stakeholders.
The facilities master plan will typically include a summary of recently completed construction projects and proposed upcoming projects for the school district. The master plan will include associated costs and desired outcomes of these proposed projects for the school board to approve, revise, or decline.
Tips for strategic planning
Before walking through a master plan template, it’s important to provide some best practices for approaching the planning process.
1. Gather the right stakeholders
Getting buy-in and collaboration early on is vital to both developing and implementing a successful plan. Each person will bring a unique perspective to the table and help to ensure the plan is well-rounded, factoring in all angles.
Here is a list of key perspectives to involve throughout various stages of the planning or pre-planning process:
- School board
- CFO or business manager
- Architects or outside vendors
- Operations director or facility manager
- Parents or community member committee
While teachers and students may not seem like an obvious choice to bring to the table, having a panel of select individuals with everyday experience in the school facility provides insight into renovation needs that may otherwise be overlooked or gauge the priority of construction projects.
Similarly, many school districts may neglect to involve directors or technicians from the buildings and grounds department. As the day-to-day overseers of the facility, these individuals provide critical details into the implementation and longevity of facility planning.
2. Maintain focus on the vision statement
All of the improvement plan initiatives need to tie back to the overarching goal of enhancing student education. Keeping this front of mind will help steer priorities, foster buy-in, and increase the chance for funding for the proposed renovation or construction projects.
The vision statement may need to be broken down into tangible educational specifications that the school district is actively working towards, such as a modernization of student educational programs with a high emphasis on exercise as a part of the curriculum. Whatever the specific vision statement for your school is, having alignment early on fosters success throughout the rest of the planning process.
When tying projects back to the school’s vision statement, it’s helpful to sort proposed projects into one of two categories.
- What are some current obstacles in the way of this vision statement? What projects can help to alleviate them?
- What are some future opportunities to enhance this vision? What projects will help to achieve them?
3. Organize your funding sources
Identifying how these projects can be funded is a vital part of the planning process. It helps to take inventory of any funding opportunities and establish any requirements for using those funds for capital improvement.
One important note here is to keep budgets designated for day-to-day school facility management separate from budgets used towards capital improvement. You don’t want to enhance your facility infrastructure at the cost of neglected or deferred maintenance.
School facilities plan template
Once you’ve gathered the right stakeholders, set your vision statement, and organized funding, now it comes time to create the actual facilities plan. Depending on your size and staffing, it will make more sense to either create the plan internally or outsource it to a 3rd party vendor.
When putting together these plans internally, there is no right or wrong way to format the plan. The goal is that it is easily understood and shared across all involved parties. We’ve provided a template you can use that formats the plan into a slide presentation.
We’ve also included a few examples of other master plans from real school districts, each with its own structure and style:
- Beaverton School District
- Montgomery County Public Schools
- Arlington Public Schools
- Denver Public Schools
- Anchorage School District
This section serves to recap recently completed projects to inform stakeholders of how certain funds have been used and establish confidence in the investment of future funding. The results column ties each project to the vision statement and communicates the return on investment for each line item.
Vision and scope
Use this section to present the organization’s vision statement and provide clear parameters for the scope of your upcoming plan. Each area is a high-level category that falls within your vision statement. For example, suppose the vision statement is to round out student education with a priority on exercise. In that case, some areas covered within the scope could be the gymnasiums, playgrounds, athletic fields, and weight rooms.
Similar to the completed projects, these line items present each project’s estimated cost, completion date, and result. The following slide provides a year-by-year summary of how much to be budgeting for capital improvements based on the previous line items.
This last section is a great chance to include anything that wasn’t covered within the scope of the vision statement. If some general items need attention or things to be considered for future projects, this is a great place to list those out (such as deferred maintenance tasks, or priorities that were passed over to focus energy on the vision statement).
Now that you’ve built out your facility plan, you may be wondering what happens next?
- Share the plan with key stakeholders.
- Prepare the necessary steps, training, and resources.
- Implement the plan across all involved participants.
- Evaluate the status and performance at regular intervals.
- Refine future planning based on your evaluations.
Using robust facility management software for schools can greatly assist your implementation, evaluation, and refinement of your master plan. Set work schedules, track costs and labor hours, and gain visibility on projects in progress to tweak them as needed.