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Facility Maintenance Decisions

Money Matters: K-12 Education Facilities Tackle Retrofit Funding

Part one of a six-part article on funding K-12 retrofit projects

By Dave Lubach, Associate Editor February 2016 - Educational Facilities   Article Use Policy

Key components and systems in K-12 school districts nationwide, including roofs, lighting and HVAC equipment, desperately need upgrades. Maintenance and engineering managers overseeing these facilities face a range of challenges in completing projects that deliver both long-term performance and bottom-line benefits.

They must determine a project’s scope, specify materials and products, communicate with contractors, and coordinate schedules, all while working under budget limitations that all too often mean alterations to project plans.

“There is almost no project that we don’t scale back based on financial limitations,” says Bob Wilkinson, director of maintenance and operations with Frederick County (Md.) Public Schools. “I don’t mean that to be pessimistic. It’s just a realistic response to the prioritization of needs.

“I would love to renovate the entire HVAC system in one school, but the truth of the matter is I’m probably better served by replacing the central plant equipment in three schools (because) failed boilers and chillers affect an entire facility. A failed terminal unit will only affect a single occupied space. Schools can adapt to the temporary loss of use for a single classroom. Losing a boiler is another issue entirely.”

Managers in K-12 districts across the country are forced to weigh similar issues every day as they consider the best ways to take advantage of funding.


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