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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
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Executive Summary

As America's school buildings age, we face the growing challenge of maintaining the nation's education facilities at a level that enables our teachers to meet the needs of 21st century learners. Facilities issues arise at all educational levels, from prekindergarten through postsecondary, and at all sites, from classrooms to administrative offices. Challenges arise in new and old facilities alike, although the types of concerns may differ.

Because routine and unexpected maintenance demands are bound to arise, every education organization must proactively develop and implement a plan for dealing with these inevitabilities. A sound facilities maintenance plan helps to ensure that school facilities are, and will be, cared for appropriately. Negligent facilities maintenance planning can result in real problems. Large capital investments can be squandered when buildings and equipment deteriorate or warranties are invalidated. Failure to maintain school facilities adequately also discourages future investment in the public education system.

However, school facilities maintenance is concerned about more than just resource management. It is about providing clean and safe environments for children. It is also about creating a physical setting that is appropriate and adequate for learning. A classroom with broken windows and cold drafts doesn't foster effective learning. But neither does an apparently state-of-the-art school that is plagued with uncontrollable swings in indoor temperature.

This Planning Guide is designed for staff at the local school district level, where most facility maintenance is planned, managed, and carried out. This audience includes school business officials, school board members, superintendents, principals, facilities maintenance planners, maintenance staff, and custodial staff. The document is also relevant to the school facilities interests of state education agency staff, community groups, vendors, and regulatory agencies.

The Planning Guide has been developed to help readers better understand why and how to develop, implement, and evaluate a facilities maintenance plan. It focuses on:

Graphic of Checkmark school facility maintenance as a vital task in the responsible management of an education organization

Graphic of Checkmark the needs of an education audience

Graphic of Checkmark strategies and procedures for planning, implementing, and evaluating effective maintenance programs

Graphic of Checkmark a process to be followed, rather than a canned set of "one size fits all" solutions

Graphic of Checkmark recommendations based on "best practices," rather than mandates

The document offers recommendations on the following important issues, which serve as chapter headings:

Graphic of Checkmark Introduction to School Facilities Maintenance Planning

Graphic of Checkmark Planning for School Facilities Maintenance

Graphic of Checkmark Facilities Audits (Knowing What You Have)

Graphic of Checkmark Providing a Safe Environment for Learning

Graphic of Checkmark Maintaining School Facilities and Grounds

Graphic of Checkmark Effectively Managing Staff and Contractors

Graphic of Checkmark Evaluating Facilities Maintenance Efforts

The Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities is the product of the National Cooperative Education Statistics System and the collaboration of the National Forum on Education Statistics ( and the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO(r)) ( The project was sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)(, U.S. Department of Education. Roger Young (, Haverhill (MA) Public Schools, chaired the Forum's School Facility Maintenance Task Force, which was charged with developing the document. Lee Hoffman managed the project for the National Center for Education Statistics.

This document is available electronically at no cost via the World Wide Web at One free copy of the Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities can be ordered from the U.S. Department of Education's ED PUBS Online Ordering System at or 877-4-ED-PUBS. Multiple copies can be ordered for a fee at the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at or 888-293-6498. For more information about this Planning Guide or other free resources from the National Forum on Education Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics, visit

Experience at the Local, State, and National Levels Suggests That Effective School Facility Maintenance Planning Can:

  • contribute to an organization's instructional effectiveness and financial well-being
  • improve the cleanliness, orderliness, and safety of an organization's facilities
  • reduce the operational costs and life-cycle cost of a building
  • help staff identify facilities priorities proactively rather than reactively
  • extend the useful life of buildings
  • increase energy efficiency and thereby help the environment

Facilities problems affect teaching and learning, student and staff health, day-to-day building operations, and the long-range fiscal health of the entire education organization. To some people’s surprise, facilities problems are less a function of geography or socioeconomics and more directly related to staff levels, training, and practices—all of which can be controlled by the organization. Thus, every school district should plan to meet the challenges of effective facilities maintenance. It is simply too big and too important of a job to be addressed haphazardly.