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Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities
Home/Introduction
Chapter 1
  Introduction to School Facilities Maintenance Planning
Chapter 2
    Planning for School Facilities Maintenance
Chapter 3
    Facility Audits: Knowing What You Have
Chapter 4
    Providing a Safe Environment for Learning
Chapter 5
    Maintaining School Facilities and Grounds
Chapter 6
    Effectively Managing Staff and Contractors
Chapter 7
    Evaluating Facilities Maintenance Efforts
Appendices
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Chapter 4
Providing a Safe Environment for Learning

GOAL:
  Image of Checkmark To identify environmental- and safety-related topics that demand an education organization's undivided attention


Securing School Facilities

security \si-'kyur-Image of Special Dasht-Image of Special Character: Long 'e'\ n: freedom from danger; freedom from fear or anxiety; measures taken to guard against crime or attack.

"Securing" a facility refers to ensuring the physical security of both a facility and its occupants-and requires a comprehensive approach to planning. At a minimum, planners must consider the following issues:
 


Securing school facilities
relies mostly on common sense. Locks can be
installed, but entrances will remain security breaches if people insist on propping doors open.

Locking systems

  Graphic of Checkmark Install locks on doors and windows as appropriate.
  Graphic of Checkmark Maintain locking devices responsibly so that keys and combinations are protected.
  Graphic of Checkmark Change locks that get compromised.
  Graphic of Checkmark Assign locking responsibilities to individuals and perform spot-checks to ensure the job is being handled properly.
  Graphic of Checkmark Prohibit manipulation of locks and entries (e.g., propping doors open).

Equipment protection
  Graphic of Checkmark Secure particularly valuable equipment (e.g., computers) with heavyduty cables and locks.
  Graphic of Checkmark Keep an up-to-date log of all valuable equipment, including equipment location, brand, model, and serial number.
  Graphic of Checkmark Label equipment in a visible way to deter theft (e.g., with fluorescent paint, permanent markers, or engraving equipment).
  Graphic of Checkmark Simultaneously label equipment in an unobtrusive way (e.g., labels hidden inside the computer case so they are less likely to be noticed and removed by thieves) so that items can be identified if they are stolen and later recovered.
  Graphic of Checkmark Never leave expensive portable equipment unattended (e.g., don't leave a laptop computer on the desk in an unlocked office).

Visibility

  Graphic of Checkmark Keep vehicle routes clear in terms of the field of view (e.g., trim hedges and branches around intersections, stoplights, and signs).
  Graphic of Checkmark Keep pedestrian paths clear in terms of the field of view (e.g., trim hedges and branches along sidewalks).
  Graphic of Checkmark Keep pedestrian paths well lighted.
  Graphic of Checkmark Install security lighting and motion detector lighting outside of back windows and doors.

Police/security facilities
  Graphic of Checkmark Train security personnel to behave professionally at all times.
  Graphic of Checkmark Install metal detectors at building entries as necessary.
  Graphic of Checkmark Install surveillance cameras in otherwise unobservable parts of the buildings as necessary.

Fire protection
  Graphic of Checkmark Maximize structural fire protection by building full-height walls and fireproof ceilings.
  Graphic of Checkmark Install fire-response equipment as appropriate (e.g., automatic sprinklers and well-marked manual fire extinguishers).

Communications systems
  Graphic of Checkmark Provide administrators (or all staff) with wireless handsets equipped with 911 panic buttons.
  Graphic of Checkmark Develop and practice an emergency communications action plan for contacting local fire, police, and medical authorities in an emergency.

Crisis management/disaster planning

 
  Graphic of Checkmark Perform a risk assessment to identify potential threats and risks facing the organization.
  Graphic of Checkmark Convene top-level managers to determine appropriate crisis and disaster response for the organization.
  Graphic of Checkmark Include staff from throughout the organization in disaster-response efforts.
  Graphic of Checkmark Include representatives from outside the organization as necessary for coordinating response with police, fire safety, and emergency services.
  Graphic of Checkmark Write a disaster-response plan that can be understood by staff members who will be expected to implement it.
  Graphic of Checkmark Practices crisis-management and disaster-response activities.

Visit http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=98297 to read the detailed school security planning guidelines presented in Safeguarding Your Technology, an online publication of the National Forum on Education Statistics.

Image of School BusFor more information about school security, visit the following web pages: National School Safety Center at http://www.nssc1.org/; and Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program at http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/SDFS.


Commonly Asked Questions

Does the school environment really affect student learning?
Image of Eagle with HammerYes. Any factor that affects student health is likely to influence student attendance and alertness as well. For example, if a classroom has poor indoor air quality, the likelihood of students suffering from respiratory illness increases substantially-which results in higher absenteeism rates. Moreover, when teaching staff are exposed to unhealthy environmental conditions, they are more likely to miss school more often as well, resulting in more substitute teachers and disrupted instructional programs.

How does a school district become better informed about the regulations and laws with which they must comply?
Numerous federal, state, and local laws that are intended to protect both our children and the environment must be complied with (and, in some instances, followed to the letter) when managing school facilities. School districts can request assistance from both federal and state regulatory agencies in ensuring that existing regulations are understood and are being properly implemented. Districts might also contact peer organizations to exchange information and ideas about compliance strategies.

How does an organization know when it has met its obligation to provide safe, healthy, and environmentally friendly facilities?
There is no way to confirm 100-percent effectiveness on these fronts. However, a district that makes the effort to learn about the issues and laws, proactively complies with the regulations, trains staff thoroughly, and performs self-evaluations regularly should feel confident that it is doing everything it can to ensure occupant health and safety and to preserve the environment. On the other hand, ignoring or otherwise neglecting these serious issues (in other words, hoping for the best) is not an acceptable management strategy from the perspective of either the public or the regulatory agencies charged with protecting the public.


Additional Resources

Image of School BusEvery effort has been made to verify the accuracy of all URLs listed in this Guide at the time of publication. If a URL is no longer working, try using the root directory to search for a page that may have moved. For example, if the link to http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/performance.html is not working, try http://www.epa.gov/ and search for "IAQ."
 


Why is it so important that all asbestos-containing materials be identified in school facilities? Because this information guides day-to-day maintenance and operations. For example, if there is asbestos in a building's floor tiles, staff must know not to use the buffer/sander to clean the area or else hazardous fibers could be released into the air.

Asbestos
http://www.edfacilities.org/rl/asbestos.cfm
A list of links, books, and journal articles about how asbestos abatement and management is conducted in school buildings, and how schools should comply with federal regulations. National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC.

Beyond Pesticides
http://www.beyondpesticides.org
A nonprofit membership organization formed to serve as a national network committed to pesticide safety and the adoption of alternative pest management strategies.

California Collaborative for High Performance Schools (ChiPS)
http://www.chps.net
A group that aims to increase the energy efficiency of public schools in California by marketing information, service, and incentive programs directly to school districts and designers. The goal is to facilitate the design of high-performance schools-environments that are not only energy efficient, but also healthy, comfortable, well lit, and contain the amenities needed for a quality education.

Children's Environmental Health Network
http://www.cehn.org
A national multidisciplinary project dedicated to promoting a healthy environment and protecting children from environmental hazards. The site presents a variety of useful publications and materials.

Creating Safe Learning Zones: The ABC's of Healthy Schools
http://www.childproofing.org/ABC.pdf
A primer prepared by the Healthy Buildings Committee of the Child Proofing Our Communities campaign to offer guidance about constructing, maintaining, and renovating healthy schools.

Disaster Planning and Response
http://www.edfacilities.org/rl/disaster.cfm
A list of links, books, and journal articles about building or retrofitting schools to withstand natural disasters and terrorism, developing emergency preparedness plans, and using school buildings to shelter community members during emergencies. National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC.

Energy Design Guidelines for High Performance Schools
http://www.eren.doe.gov/energysmartschools/order.html
A manual written by the U.S. Department of Energy to help architects and engineers design or retrofit schools in an environmentally friendly manner. U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC.

Green Schools
http://www.ase.org/greenschools/
A comprehensive program designed for K-12 schools to create energy awareness, enhance experiential learning, and save schools money on energy costs.

Hazardous Materials
http://www.edfacilities.org/rl/hazardous_materials.cfm
A list of links, books, and journal articles about the identification, treatment, storage, and removal of hazardous materials found in school buildings and grounds. National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC.

Healthier Cleaning & Maintenance: Practices and Products for Schools
A paper that provides guidance to schools with regard to selecting, purchasing, and using environmentally preferable cleaning products. Healthy Schools Network, Inc. (1999) New York State Association for Superintendents of School Buildings and Grounds, Albany, NY, 8pp.

Healthy School Handbook: Conquering the Sick Building Syndrome and Other Environmental Hazards In and Around Your School
A compilation of 22 articles concerning "sick building syndrome" in educational facilities, with attention given to determining whether a school is sick, assessing causes, initiating treatment, and developing interventions. Miller, Norma L., Ed. (1995) National Education Association, Alexandria, VA, 446pp.

Healthy Schools Network, Inc.
http://www.healthyschools.org/
A not-for-profit education and research organization dedicated to securing policies and actions that will create schools that are environmentally responsible for children, staff, and communities.

High Performance School Buildings
http://www.edfacilities.org/rl/high_performance.cfm
A resource list of links and journal articles describing "green design," a sustainable approach to school building design, engineering, materials selection, energy efficiency, lighting, and waste management strategies. National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
http://www.edfacilities.org/rl/iaq.cfm
A list of links, books, and journal articles about indoor air quality issues in K-12 school buildings, including building materials, maintenance practices, renovation procedures, and ventilation systems. National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tools for Schools
http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/
A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency kit showing schools how to carry out a practical plan for improving indoor air problems at little or no cost by using straightforward activities and in-house staff. The kit includes checklists for school employees, an IAQ problem-solving wheel, a fact sheet on indoor air pollution issues, and sample policies and memos.
 


The goal of an IPM program is to control pest activity while minimizing the use of pesticides and the subsequent risks to human and environmental health.

Integrated Pest Management
http://www.edfacilities.org/rl/pests.cfm
A list of links, books, and journal articles about integrated pest management guidelines, the use of pesticides, staff training, and program implementation and management in school buildings and grounds. National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC.

Janitorial Products: Pollution Prevention Project
http://www.westp2net.org/Janitorial/jp4.htm
A site sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that includes fact sheets, product sample kits, purchasing specifications, and other materials to advise users on the health, safety, and environmental consequences of janitorial products.

Lead-Safe Schools
http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~lohp/Projects/Lead-Safe_Schools/lead-safe_schools.html
A site established by the Labor Occupational Health Program at the University of California at Berkeley to house publications about lead-safe schools, provide training to school maintenance staff, and offer a telephone hotline to school districts and staff.

LEED™ Rating System
http://www.usgbc.org/
A self-assessing system designed for rating new and existing commercial, institutional, and high-rise residential buildings. It evaluates environmental performance over a building's life cycle and provides a definitive standard for what constitutes a "green" building. LEED is based on accepted energy and environmental principles and strikes a balance between known effective practices and emerging concepts.

Mercury
http://www.epa.gov/mercury/index.html
A web site of the U.S. EPA intended to provide information about reducing the amount of mercury in the environment. It includes both general and technical information about mercury and mercury-reduction strategies.

Mercury in Schools and Communities
http://www.newmoa.org/newmoa/htdocs/prevention/mercury/schools/
Information from the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association (NEWMOA), which was funded by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs to assist in identifying and removing elemental mercury and products containing mercury from schools and homes.

National Best Practices Manual for Building High Performance Schools
http://www.eren.doe.gov/energysmartschools/order.html
A manual by the U.S. Department of Energy to help architects and engineers design or retrofit schools in an environmentally friendly manner. U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC.

National Program for Playground Safety
http://www.uni.edu/playground/about.html
A site that describes playground safety issues, safety tips and FAQs, statistics and additional resources, and action plans for improving playground safety.

National School Safety Center
http://www.nssc1.org/
An internationally recognized resource for school safety information, training, and violence prevention. The web site contains valuable summaries of school safety research, including contact information for locating the studies.

Playgrounds
http://www.edfacilities.org/rl/playgrounds.cfm
A list of links, books, and journal articles about playground design for varying age levels, including resources on safety, accessibility, equipment, surfaces, and maintenance. National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC.

Poisoned Schools: Invisible Threats, Visible Actions
http://www.childproofing.org/poisonedschoolsmain.html
A report that includes more than two dozen case studies of schools built on or near contaminated sites or where children have otherwise been exposed to pesticide use in and around school buildings. Gibbs, Lois (2001) Center for Health, Environment and Justice, Child Proofing Our Communities Campaign, Falls Church, VA, 80pp.

Radon Prevention in the Design and Construction of Schools and Other Large Buildings
http://www.epa.gov/ordntrnt/ORD/NRMRL/Pubs/1992/625R92016.pdf
A report outlining ways in which to ameliorate the presence of radon in schools buildings. The document presents the underlying principles (suitable for a general audience) and also provides more technical details for use by architects, engineers, and builders. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1994), Washington, DC, 51pp.

Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program
http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/SDFS
A program dedicated to reducing drug use, crime, and violence in U.S. schools. The web site contains many full-text publications on school safety and violence prevention.

Safeguarding Your Technology
http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=98297
Guidelines to help educational administrators and staff understand how to effectively secure an organization's sensitive information, critical systems, computer equipment, and network access. Technology Security Task Force, National Forum on Education Statistics (1998) National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC.

Safety and Security Design
http://www.edfacilities.org/rl/safety_security.cfm
A list of links, books, and journal articles about designing safer schools, conducting safety assessments, implementing security technologies, and preventing crime through environmental design. National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC.

Safety in Numbers: Collecting and Using Crime, Violence, and Discipline Incident Data to Make a Difference in Schools
http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2002312
Guidelines for use by school, district, and state staff to improve the effectiveness of disciplinary-incident data collection and use in schools. It provides recommendations on what types of data to collect and how the data can be used to improve school safety. Crime, Violence and Discipline Task Force, National Forum on Education Statistics (1998) National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC.

Storm Water Runoff
http://www.epa.gov/fedsite/cd/stormwater.html
A list of Storm Water Management Regulatory Requirements provided by the U.S. EPA.

THOMAS Legislative Information on the Internet
http://thomas.loc.gov
A site maintained by the U.S. Congress to provide status reports on proposed legislation.

Underground Fuel Storage Tanks
http://www.cefpi.org/issue4.html
A briefing paper about the responsibilities associated with owning and securing an underground fuel storage tank. McGovern, Matthew (1996) Council of Educational Facility Planners International, Scottsdale, AZ, 5pp.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
http://www.epa.gov/
The main web site of the U.S. EPA, which works closely with other federal agencies, state and local governments to develop and enforce regulations under existing environmental laws. EPA Regional Office and Linked State Environmental Departments can be found at http://www.epa.gov/epapages/statelocal/envrolst.htm

U.S. Green Building Council
http://www.usgbc.org
A web site intended to facilitate interaction among leaders in every sector of business, industry, government, and academia with respect to emerging trends, policies, and products affecting "green building" practices in the United States.

Environmental Safety Checklist

More information about accomplishing these checkpoints can be found on the pages listed in the right-hand column.

Accomplished Checkpoints
Yes No
    Do facilities planners recognize that occupant safety is always their overarching priority?
    Has the organization contacted regulatory agencies (e.g., the EPA), the U.S. Department of Education, its state department of education, professional associations, and peer institutions to obtain information about applicable environmental regulations?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing indoor air quality?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing asbestos?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing water quality and use?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing waste handling and disposal?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing CFCs and HCFCs?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing emergency power systems?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing hazardous materials?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing integrated pest management?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing lead paint?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing mercury?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing personal protective equipment?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing PCBs?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing radon?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing playgrounds?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing storm water runoff?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing underground storage tanks?
    Does the organization have a plan for introducing environmentally friendly school concepts to new construction and renovation projects?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing locking systems?
    Does the organization have a plan for protecting equipment?
    Does the organization have a plan for ensuring pedestrian and vehicle visibility?
    Does the organization have a plan for policing/securing facilities?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly managing fire protection?
    Does the organization have a plan for protecting communications systems?
    Does the organization have a plan for responsibly dealing with potential crises and disasters?



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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education