Securing Funding for Maintenance

  May 6, 2008

I’m Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s topic is, securing funding for maintenance.

A significant part of any maintenance department’s long-term plan involves securing funding for building renovations, new construction, deferred maintenance and other projects managers cannot accommodate with their operating budgets. To address these projects, districts often present bond measures to voters in their communities.

When Tim Woodley worked as a construction manager building public schools across the Pacific Northwest, he witnessed the challenges many districts face in securing funding for building renovations and new construction.

Earlier in his career while overseeing construction of schools in various districts, Woodley learned the value of planning and organization when preparing bonds. The West Linn-Wilsonville School District just outside of Portland, Ore. has earned a reputation for approving bonds, having done successfully passed measures in 1979, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1997, and 2000. The district’s approach is the key to success.

“I think you have to” have a long-term plan, Woodley says, the district’s director of operations. “I’ve built schools in other districts and know the struggles they went through to get a bond passed. Year in and year out, school districts tend to focus internally, rather than externally. There are no big-vision goals and things that excite a community.”

West Linn-Wilsonville’s bonds address something in every school, Woodley says, creating interest among parents and students. But each bond does have a specific goal, and the amount of money allocated to certain schools helps identify which facilities will be the focus of a particular measure.

Says Woodley, “I think (getting bonds passed) has mostly to do with knowing who your customer is. Humility and a sense of stewardship is really, really important, and understanding the mission, which is education. It’s not building buildings. It’s not maintaining buildings. That’s not the mission. Often, operations departments or maintenance departments lose track of why they’re there every single day.”


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