The Cons of In-House Maintenance of K-12 School Facilities Assets

One of the most prominent hurdles schools face focuses on maintenance. According to the CHOOSE one Charitable Trusts, schools across the country face an annual funding deficit of $38 billion, and it is no surprise that the priority is deferred maintenance, rather than proactive maintenance. However, in-house maintenance of K-12 school facilities assets can be streamlined through outsourcing, which may also significantly reduce the costs and adverse effects of maintaining an in-house program. As explained by American School & University, schools must consider contracting support services, including maintenance needs, to save money and resources.

In-House Maintenance of K-12 School Facilities Assets Is Expensive and Extensive

A major misconception of in-house maintenance of K-12 school facilities assets derives from the assumption that in-house maintenance is cheaper than contracted support services. Costs are not the only problem with in-house maintenance, which may include the following:

  • Budget limitations.
  • Inexperience in handling maintenance of new assets.
  • Length of the maintenance backlog.
  • Collapsing systems.
  • Time restrictions.
  • Adverse impacts on students and faculty.
  • High labor costs.
  • Inaccurate cost predictions.
  • Lack of visibility into maintenance.
  • Poor reporting and accountability.
  • Vendor vetting and management.
  • Payment processing.
  • Inability to continuously improve.
  • The limited scope of preventive maintenance.
  • Nonexistent use of data and predictive maintenance.
  • Poor emergency planning and inability to handle black swan events.

New Assets Are Designed for Tech-Savvy Technicians.

Modern school management also includes an entirely new era of technology and asset functions. Even assets manufactured in the last ten years may have built-in systems for reporting performance, and those that are older can be retro-commissioned through sensors, connected to the Internet of Things.

Modern technology can provide great help in determining maintenance needs, explains Jennifer Hermes of Energy Manager Today. Submetering, purchasing insight, conservation encouragement, tracking of Green energy credits and improved accounting practices are common areas that the Facilities Manager can focus on to increase value and reduce spending. Moreover, energy managers must be able to work in cross-functional teams, use data and continuously improve, says Jennifer Hermes of Hermes.

Best Practices in Moving From In-House to Outsourced Services

While contracted support services are superior to an in-house program, there will be challenges to overcome in switching from traditional, in-house practice. Fortunately, school officials can reduce the impact of these challenges with a few best practices, including:

    1. Address cultural resistance. Staff members may fear the loss of their jobs and dramatic changes to workload, creating a cultural resistance to contracted services. Schools should address this problem head-on by explaining the rationale for the switch and how it will affect all staff members. Further, partnering with a company allows the facility manager and school officials to stay strategic and be seen by the school board as the champion driving change and reaching energy management goals.
  • Remember the pressure of unions and student advocates. Faculty unions and student advocates may also affect cultural resistance and efficiency of outsourced services, so schools should connect with these organizations before making the transition.
  • Review contracting regulations. Depending on the governance structure for a school, contracted services may be subject to different regulations in the education sector.
  • Retrocomission assets with connected, data-based tracking tools. This is among the most straightforward steps to take, requiring the installation of sensors in facility assets and connection with an energy management platform.
  • Prioritize maintenance needs. The maintenance backlog will need to be addressed, but schools must also assess building and asset condition to determine maintenance needs that have not yet contributed to an asset failure.
  • Avoid deferred maintenance. All maintenance needs should be addressed immediately, within mere hours of discovering the problem, if not addressed as part of a predictive, preventative maintenance program.
  • Focus on reinvestment value. The savings from outsourced services can be used to reinvest in faculty, students and facility conditions. This is the reinvestment value, and it is essential in gaining school-board support, as well as overcoming cultural resistance.

Know the Drawbacks to In-House Maintenance, and Use Them to Encourage School Board-Support for Outsourced Service.

School officials that want to reduce maintenance spend must not turn to in-house programs and maintenance activities; in-house maintenance is one of the most expensive and complicated ways to address the needs of a facility. Concurrent savings and completion of all maintenance needs, including preventive maintenance, are possible through contracted or outsourced support services. Put the power of savings back in your school’s budget by visiting Cenergistic online or calling 1-855-798-7779 now.

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