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December 17, 2018 -
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While most institutional and commercial facilities suffer from some level of deferred maintenance problems, the situation is often at crisis level for the nation’s K-12 school districts. Decades of neglect due to a lack of public funds — taxpayers in most major cities have long resisted big-ticket efforts to repair schools and improve learning environments — have created large and chronic maintenance problems, as managers in Baltimore know all too well. Last year’s harsh winter exposed longstanding infrastructure problems in Baltimore’s aging school buildings. One year later, school system officials are working to ensure the heating crisis doesn’t repeat itself, according to The Baltimore Sun. The district’s facilities department has put renewed emphasis on preventive maintenance this school year, hoping to catch small problems before they turn into burst pipes and broken boilers. The department has devoted more time and resources to monitoring buildings and spent millions to install temperature sensors that will sound an alarm should classrooms get too cold. Last year’s highly publicized disaster was the manifestation of decades of underinvestment in Baltimore schools, which are among the oldest in the state, says Sonja Santelises, the schools’ CEO. The district has a $3 billion maintenance backlog, and system officials say they lack the budget to tackle it.
Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions, and Facilitiesnet.com.