Skip Navigation
Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities
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
Download PDF File



Chapter 2
Planning for School Facilities Maintenance

  Graphic of Checkmark To explain why planning is an essential component of managing school facilities maintenance activities
  Graphic of Checkmark To communicate that effective facilities management requires the support of many stakeholders throughout the organization and community
  Graphic of Checkmark To confirm that informed decision-making demands ready access to high-quality data that describe the status of the organization's facilities, needs, and capabilities

Data for Informed Decision-Making

Image of KeysGood data are necessary to inform good decision-making. It is as simple as that. Thus, facilities maintenance plans should be based on a foundation of high-quality data about all school facilities. Otherwise, planners are forced to work without context, and strategic planning becomes strategic guesswork. Planners must know what facilities exist, where they are located, how old they are, and their status/condition. Are equipment and facilities working as designed? As they should? As they need to be?

Informed decision-making requires ready access to high-quality data that describe the status of the organization's facilities, its needs, and capabilities.

Additionally, planners must consider projected needs for the future. For example, demographers can provide important estimates of the projected growth of student populations-that is, how many school-age children will be in each neighborhood over the next decade. The only way to ensure that planners have the information they need to make effective decisions is to collect data in a regular, timely, and consistent manner. Data collection is a time-consuming (and ongoing) task that cannot be overlooked. For efficiency's sake, an education organization may partner with other entities that share their interest in school facilities data-for example, the local Chamber of Commerce, the state government, or even local real estate companies. Chapter 3 of this Planning Guide discusses facilities audits (i.e., data collections), which are an important area of focus for responsible facilities managers. The National Forum on Education Statistics has developed a companion publication, Facilities Information Management: A Guide for State and Local School Districts, to help address these issues. It can be downloaded at

Facility planners need to consider data collection and use as a valuable tool in the planning process. Having "the facts" (i.e., good data) is always a good starting place for making good decisions.

Phrases from Model School Facilities Maintenance Vision Statements

  • maintain a healthy school environment
  • ensure the appropriate use of school space for educational practices
  • maximize facility use (e.g., nights and weekends) to optimize investment
  • guarantee equitable allocation of educational resources
  • create and maintain a physical environment that supports the needs of the academic program, staff, students, other users, and visitors who use the campus
  • operate, maintain, and promote quality facilities, grounds, and services to efficiently and effectively support the instructional and service programs
  • provide the physical environment, utilities, and support services necessary to promote educational activities
  • maintain buildings, grounds, and equipment that are fundamental to a healthy academic environment
  • provide an atmosphere that allows students, faculty, and staff to meet or exceed their personal and departmental goals in support of the academic mission of the schools
  • supply appropriate environmental services in the most efficient and economical manner
  • promote a safe, clean, and aesthetically pleasing campus environment
  • respond to the environmental needs and requirements of the school district
  • provide an optimum learning, teaching, and working environment for all students, faculty, and staff within the school community
  • sustain the integrity and appearance of the campus environment while supporting the pursuit of the educational process

Commonly Asked Questions

Why plan for school facilities maintenance?
Image of Eagle with HammerFacilities maintenance doesn't occur in a vacuum. After all, grounds and buildings belong to school districts, not maintenance departments. The maintenance department's job is to ensure that facilities and grounds are in adequate condition to support the mission of the district. Thus, day-to-day maintenance activities must be guided by a school facilities maintenance plan that is informed by, and aligned with, a larger organizational plan. Without a coordinated plan, it is impossible to know whether day-to-day maintenance operations support current and future organizational priorities.

Why should an organization go to the trouble of including stakeholders in facilities maintenance planning?
Stakeholder feedback provides new perspectives and fresh ideas to the planning process. Moreover, when stakeholders participate in organizational planning, they are more likely to buy into the strategies that they have helped to establish. "Buy-in" becomes especially significant when one recognizes that likely stakeholders in the facilities maintenance planning process include maintenance and custodial staff, teachers, parents, students, superintendents, principals, board members, school business officials, and community groups.

Be prepared to meet the needs of inconvenienced stakeholders -e.g., if major renovations are scheduled for public fields, efforts should be made to identify alternative sites for community use.

Why should an organization bother to develop a "vision statement" for facilities maintenance?
A vision statement helps to focus facilities maintenance policies, procedures, and day-to-day operations on the needs of the larger organization. Without a vision statement (the target), management risks inefficient use of resources by squandering time, money, and effort on activities that are not consistent with the long-term needs of the organization. Moreover, a well-publicized vision statement reminds staff at all levels of the overarching purpose of their work.

Who reads a vision statement?
Hopefully, lots of people, but that is a function of how well the organization disseminates the vision statement. A vision statement only has impact when it is read. Thus, it should be shared with everyone who maintains, supports, or uses school facilities. If stakeholders are aware of the organization's vision for its future, they can align their own long- and short-term plans to direct day-to-day activities in support of that vision.

Additional Resources

Image of School BusEvery effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the 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 is not working, try and search for "IAQ."

American School and University Annual Maintenance and Operations Cost Study
An annual survey that reports median national statistics for various maintenance and operations costs, including salary/payroll, gas, electricity, utilities, maintenance and grounds equipment and supplies, outside contract labor, and other costs.

Budgeting for Facilities Maintenance and Repair Activities
An online publication that focuses on how to estimate future facility maintenance and repair needs. Federal Facilities Council, Standing Committee on Operations and Maintenance, National Research Council (1996) National Academy Press, Washington, DC.

Community Participation in Planning
A list of links, books, and journal articles about how community members can become involved in the planning and design of school buildings and grounds. National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC.

"Clean" is a Relative Term

Your local high school can be cleaned by a single person-no kidding! The only catch is that you have to be willing to live with the job that would be done. Thus, there must be agreement on expectations. Somebody is bound to be unhappy if parents expect 4-star hotel conditions but planners only budget for discount motel standards.

Creating a Vision
An online toolkit from the National School Boards Association for creating a vision in school organizations.

Maintenance & Operations Costs
A list of links, books, and journal articles citing national and regional maintenance and operations cost statistics and cost-reduction measures for the upkeep of school buildings and grounds. National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC.

Maintenance Planning, Scheduling and Coordination
A book focusing on the preparatory tasks that lead to effective utilization and application of maintenance resources: planning, parts acquisition, work measurement, coordination and scheduling. Nyman, Don and Levitt, Joel (2001) Industrial Press, New York, NY, 320pp.

The Rural and Community Trust
The web site of The Rural and Community Trust, which works with many small towns and counties in which the school remains the center of the community. The Rural and Community Trust provides a network for people who are working to improve school-community facilities, increase community participation in the facilities design process, and expand the stakeholders these public resources can serve.

A Visioning Process for Designing Responsive Schools
A guide for helping stakeholders establish the groundwork for designing and building responsive, effective community school facilities, including an explanation of the benefits of community participation and how to go about the process of strategic planning, goal setting, articulating a vision, design generation, and strategy selection. Sanoff, Henry (2001) National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Washington, DC, 18pp.

Planning + Information = Success

Good Maintenance is:

Graphic of Checkmark proactive

Graphic of Checkmark a team effort

Graphic of Checkmark based on preventive maintenance

Graphic of Checkmark money well spent

Graphic of Checkmark an effective method of reducing the life-cycle cost of a building

Graphic of Checkmark in the best interest of taxpayers

Graphic of Checkmark complementary to educational objectives

Graphic of Checkmark not a secondary aspect of education

Planning for School Facilities Maintenance Checklist

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

Accomplished Checkpoints
Yes No
    Is there a facilities maintenance plan?
    Is facilities maintenance planning a component of overall organizational planning?
    Does the facilities maintenance plan include long- and short-term objectives, budgets, and timelines?
    Have potential stakeholders in the facilities maintenance planning process been identified?
    Have appropriate avenues for publicizing the facilities maintenance planning process to staff and community stakeholders been investigated and undertaken?
    Have representative members of stakeholder groups been invited to participate in the facilities maintenance planning process?
    Have representative members of stakeholder groups been selected fairly for participation in the facilities maintenance planning process?
    Have individual views and opinions been a welcomed aspect of the consensus-building process?
    Have stakeholders been included in follow up efforts to document and implement decisions?
    Has a vision statement for school facilities maintenance been constructed?
    Is the vision statement for school facilities maintenance aligned with the vision and plans of the rest of the organization?
    Is the vision statement closely related to the day-to-day operations of the facilities maintenance staff?
    Have comprehensive, accurate, and timely school facilities data been used to inform the planning process (see also Chapter 3)?