Effective Practices : Facilities Management
School Operations Section 2
1. Does your school have a facilities manager? If so, please summarize his/her primary responsibilities and attach a copy of a detailed position description if available.
2. Does your school have a Buildings and Grounds Committee? Describe how members are selected, the frequency of its meetings, and describe the primary responsibilities of this group. (Attach a copy of the committee’s mandate or detailed responsibility list if available.)
3. If your school has both a facilities manager and a Buildings and Grounds committee describe the interactions and the manner in which they work together.
4. The repair and maintenance budget in Waldorf schools is often sizable. Describe how the budget for this area is established, and the manner in which priorities are established in cases where funds are limited.
5. In addition to the facilities manager does your school employ other personnel or use outside services for grounds maintenance and janitorial services? Describe the staffing or arrangements with outside contractors that support your school in these areas, including the full time equivalents for all facilities and grounds maintenance staff.
6. Describe the key elements of your philosophy with regard to facilities management.
7. What about your school’s facilities management program is particularly effective?
8. If there were something you could change with regard to your school’s facility management program, what would it be and why?
Does your school have a facilities manager? If so, please summarize his/her primary responsibilities and attach a copy of a detailed position description if available.
Facilities management in Waldorf schools is approached in one of two ways. In most of the schools surveyed a single person is responsible for facilities management. In one school surveyed the responsibility for facilities management is a shared one held jointly by a maintenance committee.
The facilities manager in most schools is responsible both for the oversight of the facility and for performing some of the maintenance functions himself. The position of facilities manager often includes tasks such as maintaining the safety and general upkeep of the site, performing basic repairs, coordinating work by outside contractors, and emergency preparedness. He also works with the Business Manager on long term capital improvement planning and on decisions about how to make the best use of available funds in the short term. (See: Facilities Manager Position Description)
A variation on this approach is the position of Operations Manager. In this approach the Operations Manager handles the management functions described above but does not do any of the actual repairs personally. In this approach the Operations Manager is also given responsibility for other operationally oriented but non-facility specific tasks. These tasks could include such things as the ordering of all supplies for the school and office, management of office equipment, or supervision of some members of the office staff.
In schools where a maintenance committee is in charge of facilities management the responsibility is shared between several people. The committee meets weekly to plan and organize collectively the ongoing maintenance work at the school. The committee chair also supervises the school’s maintenance staff. Typically the business manger and administrator are members of the committee, along with a few teachers and interested parents. In cases where the teacher is the committee chair and supervisor of the maintenance staff he receives a partial teaching credit in recognition of his added work.
Does your school have a Buildings and Grounds Committee? Describe how members are selected, the frequency of its meetings, and describe the primary responsibilities of this group. (Attach a copy of the committee’s mandate or detailed responsibility list if available.)
Every school surveyed for this study has a Buildings and Grounds or Maintenance Committee. In cases where the school employs a facilities manager the work of the Buildings and Grounds Committee is one of support for the facilities manager and to provide general oversight and big picture perspective on work done in the facilities arena. Several schools also have a subcommittee of the Buildings and Grounds group that is focused on the esthetics of the campus. This group helps to ensure that, in addition to being professionally maintained, the campus is outwardly beautiful as well.
In most cases the Buildings and Grounds Committee will include the facilities or operations manager, and sometimes the school administrator and/or business manager. A few teachers and qualified parents usually round out the committee. The Garden Sub-Committee usually includes the school’s gardening teacher, the facilities or operations manager, and a few parents with a special interest in this work.
If your school has both a facilities manager and a Buildings and Grounds committee describe the interactions and the manner in which they work together.
In schools with both a Facilities Manager and a Buildings and Grounds Committee the Facilities Manager is a full member of the Buildings and Grounds Committee. In these cases the Buildings and Grounds Committee serves as a support for the Facilities Manager, helping with longer term big picture planning and by serving as a speaking partner. In schools with other full time maintenance employees these individuals are also often members of the Buildings and Grounds Committee as well.
The repair and maintenance budget in Waldorf schools is often sizable. Describe how the budget for this area is established, and the manner in which priorities are established in cases where funds are limited.
Mature schools typically have a three or five year plan in which all the systems at the school - mechanical, roofs, HVAC, walls, guttering, windows, etc. - are listed. There is a plan for each of these systems that shows the expected useful life of each and a projection for normal replacement costs. The total dollars projected in this budget are roughly equal to the depreciation budget for the school.
The school budget will have a separate capital line for each building and funds are planned accordingly. The actual experience during the year may be different by category from what is in the budget, but the facilities manager and/or Buildings and Grounds committee has the authority to move funds between capital and expense as needed so long as the total budget stays in line.Younger schools generally have less sophisticated budgeting and expense management systems. However, it is critical that schools learn to budget and set aside adequate dollars for plant repairs and improvements at the school. This amount, sometimes referred to as PPRSM (Provision for Plant Replacement, Renewal, and Special Maintenance) is equal to the schools depreciation budget. Young schools often fall into a trap of deferring maintenance in order to support other areas of school operations, but soon find that this is a budgetary approach that cannot be maintained if the facilities are to be properly maintained so as to serve the pedagogical standards of the school.
In addition to the facilities manager does your school employ other personnel or use outside services for grounds maintenance and janitorial services? Describe the staffing or arrangements with outside contractors that support your school in these areas, including the full time equivalents for all facilities and grounds maintenance staff.
Schools use a variety of staff employees and outside contractors to fulfill their maintenance, gardening and janitorial needs. The staffing levels vary in each area depending on the particular nature of the school and its site. For example, an urban school may have little or no outside grounds to maintain, but may have an older facility with complex maintenance and repair needs. Conversely, a country school with a new facility may have little need for ongoing repair, but may have to dedicate a larger part of its budget to maintaining expansive grounds. For these reasons no generalizations can be made about the proper number of full time equivalents for this work.
Describe the key elements of your philosophy with regard to facilities management.
We work to maintain a facility that supports our pedagogical initiatives. Facilities management is work done in service to others. It is vital that we approach the maintenance of the site in a manner that reflects our approach to child development and education.
We try to work with the children as much as possible. The third grade building project is an obvious example, but we also have student run vegetable gardens and composting efforts. High school students are hired to work after school to mow the grass and do weeding. This builds a real sense of ownership for the buildings and grounds among the students at the school.
An active interest from the faculty in facilities management is very helpful. Membership on the maintenance committee by several teachers brings a special awareness to the work that is invaluable.
It is critical that we do regular ongoing maintenance so that the facility continues to serve us well. We never short change our investment in this area in order to balance the budget. We work to be proactive with the maintenance of our facility.
Long term planning and reinvestment into the plant are critical. The Board needs to be apprised and put money aside for this. A school must not balance its budget by failing to reinvest and properly maintain its site.
Get as much information as you can when making decisions about the buildings and the grounds. There is history that can get lost very quickly, and it’s helpful to know what has been done in the past so we can benefit from that experience.
We strive to keep good records of when work has been done so that service contracts are regularly maintained and warranty information on new equipment is readily accessed.
We appreciate input from others about what is needed at the school. It is helpful when everyone is sharing their ideas and we create a shared vision of how the school will look in times to come.
The work in buildings and grounds is a balancing act. We try to find the most cost effective approach, discerning when to upgrade, when to replace, and when to just patch something up. We try to be really thoughtful about each of our expenditures.
Stay impartial and develop a thick hide. It is important to remember that people care about the school and everyone wants to see the campus well maintained and beautiful, even when we don’t all agree on the details of how to achieve that result.
What about your school’s facilities management program is particularly effective?
The ongoing reporting to the Board by the Maintenance Committee is very helpful in keeping the members apprised of the ongoing work and its challenges. Similarly, the finance committee’s interest in long term planning, of which maintenance and capital expenditures are big pieces, is very supportive.
Our Buildings and Grounds Manager is an alumnus of the school. He understands what is needed from the inside out.
We enjoy having the benefits of being part of a larger anthroposophic community. In some cases such as the end of year graduation festivities we may need a little extra grounds support, and using the services of the larger community association gives us valuable flexibility in the area of grounds maintenance.
As an established school we own all of the tools and equipment needed to maintain and repair the facility.
We have a cohesive program that is centralized through the facilities manager so it’s easy to have a consistent direction.
We attempt to be responsive and get things done as quickly as possible.
The facilities manager has the authority to make decisions for the betterment of the facility.
All green, nontoxic cleaning solutions are used. We have a great recycling program as well.
There is a trade off between hiring someone as the facilities manager who is a property manager and someone who can do the repairs himself. It has been effective for us to have someone who can do many minor repairs and can see the larger picture as well. A grounds committee will help ensure that our facilities manager holds the big picture, but his ability to do many repairs himself has been a real benefit.
Having a facilities person whose job it is to keep his eye on things is a real plus. It is hard to imagine how we would operate without someone dedicated to this task.
If there were something you could change with regard to your school’s facility management program, what would it be and why?
The schools in this survey were quite satisfied with the overall level of their work in the area of facilities management. One school noted its desire to involve the children at a higher level in the grounds and maintenance work, saying, “Not only would we be able to teach them valuable skills, but we would also be able to increase their feeling of ownership of the campus if they could actually participate in the work to make it beautiful. Children who have planted a garden never treat it carelessly, and those who have painted the bathroom walls never write on them.”
Another school noted that it could use some additional staffing, perhaps a half a full time unit, to ensure that the facilities were maintained at a properly high level.