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HVAC systems have taken center stage due to their crucial role in organizations’ efforts to prevent the spread within facilities of harmful airborne particles, such as the coronavirus. When it comes to the decades-old crisis of deferred maintenance in the nation’s K-12 school districts, though, HVAC systems are hardly the only problem.
About 28 percent of K-12 school districts need to replace or update in at least one-half of their schools, according to a 2020 report from the U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO). About 41 percent report the same need related to HVAC systems, while 27.8 percent of districts report problems with interior lighting.
For the report, GAO conducted a nationally representative survey of school districts and surveyed 50 states and the District of Columbia; visited 55 schools in 16 districts across six states, selected for geographic variation and other characteristics; analyzed federal data on school district expenditures for capital construction projects; and interviewed federal, state, district, and school officials.
“School districts reported needing to update or replace other key building systems and features,” according to the report. “Based on our school district survey, we estimate that about 30,000 schools need to update or replace interior lighting, and about 28,000 schools need to update or replace roofing.
“Of the 55 schools we visited, 18 had problems with their roofing, according to district and school officials. Roofing problems ranged from small leaks to larger issues requiring a costly replacement. For example, officials in a Rhode Island district said that replacing the roofing at one school would likely cost about $3 million. These officials said, because the district did not have the funds to replace it, they instead planned to spend $20,000 on temporary fixes, with the hope that these fixes would last until funding was available for a full replacement.”
As maintenance and engineering managers in these districts know all too well, the deferred maintenance challenge is not limited to one system.
“Based on our nationally representative survey of school districts, we estimate that about half (54 percent) of districts need to update or replace at least two building systems in many of their schools,” according to the GAO report. “Further, we estimate about a quarter of districts (26 percent) need to update or replace at least six systems in many of their schools.15 In terms of specific building systems and features, we estimate that 41 percent of school districts need to update or replace HVAC systems in at least half their schools (about 36,000 schools nationwide).”
Go here to read the GAO report.
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