Photo courtesy of: Greg Land

The Smart and Proactive Approach To Tackling K-12 Facility Challenges And Opportunities

March 28, 2018  |  Kayla Anthony, AICP Beth Penfield, LEED® AP BD+C, ALEP

A significant pipeline of capital needs is arguably one of the most daunting challenges facing school districts. Whether it’s a portfolio of facilities with a growing deferred maintenance backlog or increasing demand for capacity and services due to population growth, districts and their superintendents are forced to reconcile needs and wants with resource constraints.

In response to these formidable challenges, school districts are innovating, looking for opportunities, and developing best practices. These efforts are helping staff, leadership, and the community work together more effectively—forging key partnerships that make these challenges surmountable. Ultimately, being smart and proactive in confronting the realities you face begins with three questions:

 

1. Do you have a clear understanding of the physical condition of your district’s facilities and their lifecycle needs?

An important first step for any school district is conducting a Facility Conditions Assessment (“FCA”) to quantify the physical condition of the facilities across your portfolio. This allows decision makers to compare facilities apples-to-apples and make objective decisions for capital improvements. From there, a long-term Facilities Master Plan (“FMP”) provides a comprehensive view of capital needs and serves as the road map for achieving a district’s vision.

 

2. Do you have a targeted vision for your future that is easy to communicate to all staff and stakeholders?

Without endless resources, hard decisions must be made. Having a vision is critical to keeping leaders focused when making decisions and weighing priorities, and when discussing projects with the community—especially when those projects involve trade-offs.

 

3. What tools or shifts in behavior can help you get there?

The answer to this question must be tailored to your school district and community needs. Some examples B&D has facilitated include:

  • Creating citizen committees to objectively review current practices
  • Evaluating relevant legislation and internal policies that might need updating
  • Piloting alternative deliveries of capital projects
  • Engaging in joint discussions to overcome departmental silos

 


B&D recently guided the City of Alexandria, Virginia, and Alexandria City Public Schools through a similar process. Read about this joint discussion.

"The leadership and information from B&D, and the clarity with which they provide it, brings added credibility to the process and ensures that a range of university stakeholders, including senior leadership and our board, are fully informed for – and confident in – their required decision making.”

B.J. Crain, Former Interim Vice President for Finance and Administration
Texas Woman’s University

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