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2 States Move to Commit Billions to K-12 Maintenance

Jul 2, 2023 | Public | 0 comments

School Maintenance

Nebraska and Pennsylvania move forward with programs to address massive deferred maintenance backlogs.   July 3, 2023

As K-12 school roofs spring more leaks, HVAC systems run less efficiently and plumbing systems deteriorate and waste more water, maintenance and engineering managers in districts nationwide continue their search for critical funds to perform much-needed repairs. While most districts are hamstrung in such efforts – allowing the deferred maintenance backlog to grow even larger – two developments offer managers reasons to hope that the general public is realizing the need to fund school maintenance

In Nebraska, the Omaha public school district is close to finishing an 18-month-long project that plans for the future of all 108 of its buildings, according to the Fremont Tribune. The plan outlines each building’s maintenance and renovation needs over the next 20 years and amounts to a projected $2.29 billion in projects. While it still needs its finishing touches, school board members were able to get the first look at the plan during a workshop earlier this month.

Charles Wakefield, chief operations officer, said the district’s team of architects and staff took photos of each item in every building, cataloged its condition and assessed the cost of replacement or renovation for the next five to 20 years. Each school has thousands of lines of data in the facilities assessment. The team also created lifespans of each piece of the buildings, estimating what components are critical to replace and what components can wait.

In Pennsylvania, a legislator recently introduced House Bill 1408, a proposed program that envisions a new era for state support of school construction, renovation, and maintenance, according to The Center Square.

“This is not unique across Pennsylvania,” said House Education Committee Chairman Peter Schweyer said. “There are schools across the state that have mold, lead paint, asbestos, don’t have access to internet, are not accessible to students in wheelchairs or have other special needs and, it’s about time the commonwealth starts investing in this.”

Insurmountable structural problems sank Pennsylvania’s old program, PlanCon, where districts spent a decade in line waiting for grants to fund new buildings or extensive renovations. There was also no focus on maintenance for HVAC repairs, roof replacement, and other smaller projects that could extend the lives of existing facilities.

PlanCon 2.0 already exists in state law but has never been funded. Schweyer’s bill would change that, though it’s unclear exactly how much money the state would invest. Supporters estimate that at least $15-$20 billion worth of projects exist, though the figure could be much higher.

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 

The post "2 States Move to Commit Billions to K-12 Maintenance" appeared first on FN Prime Maintenance & Operations


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