School facilities maintenance affects the physical, educational, and financial foundation of the school organization and should, therefore, be a focus of both its day-to-day operations and long-range management priorities. As America's school buildings age, we face the growing challenge of maintaining school facilities at a level that enables our teachers to meet the needs of 21st century learners.
While the construction of new school facilities supports this task, many older buildings have developed modularly over time. A 1920s-era school may have gotten an addition in 1950, which in turn got an addition in 1970, and yet another addition in 1990. The task of caring for these old school buildings, some of which are historically or architecturally significant, at a level that supports contemporary instructional practices is substantial. At the same time, maintaining the finely tuned workings of new, more technologically advanced facilities also demands considerable expertise and commitment.
Thus, it is perhaps not surprising that facilities issues arise at all educational levels, pre-kindergarten through post-secondary, and all sites, both school buildings and administrative offices alike. Challenges arise in both new and old facilities, although the types of concerns may differ. For example, even a brand-new building may have problems with inadequate air circulation, which can lead to indoor air quality (IAQ) problems unless remedied. Older buildings, on the other hand, more frequently face age-related issues such as inefficient energy systems that can lead to uncomfortable indoor climate and high utility bills.
A sound facilities maintenance plan serves as evidence that school facilities are, and will be, cared for appropriately. On the other hand, negligent facilities maintenance planning can cause real problems. Large capital investment can be squandered when buildings and equipment deteriorate or warranties become invalidated. Failing to maintain school facilities adequately also discourages future public investment in the education system.