by: Facilitron Thought Leadership
original article: LinkedIn
Facility management and school budgets go hand-in-hand, and at many school districts, recovering facility use fees from community organizations can mean big things. Adequately recovering these fees means having a well-developed facility use program and so an exciting prospect for schools who have built successful facility use programs is the opportunity to reinvest newly found funds into much-needed improvements, useful programs, and beneficial offerings for students and community.
A Facilitron partnership allows schools to completely remake their facility use program with absolutely no investment and unlock critical data which, with Facilitron’s guidance and expertise, will lead to more efficient management and increased revenue from facility fees. Here are just three of the many ideas for how schools are using recovered funds to reinvest in their schools and communities:
1) Creating on-campus wellness centers for students and community
At Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) in Orange County, California, a high population density and a shortage of public spaces keeps district facilities in high demand, but like at many districts, managing community demand proved to be overwhelming. Struggling to keep up, proper managerial oversight of community use was not surprisingly compromised and each day the opportunity to maximize utilization and recovery revenue was lost. This stymied the district’s idea of helping to fund an important initiative—wellness centers.
Just 9 months after launching with Facilitron, a restructured facility use program was up and running and SAUSD’s improved oversight and policy changes were leading to more revenue. Among that improved oversight was the identification of a staggering $160,000 in lost revenue—discovered when an organization leasing district facilities for both a non-profit and commercial entities was found to be incorrectly using their tax-exempt, non-profit designation for both of its organizations. After discovering the issue, the district was able to take action and invoice the commercial organization the difference in the non-profit and commercial rate.
Revenues resulting from better facility management at SAUSD have primarily been directed back into improving the quality and safety of school facilities. But the improved funding has also helped the district open wellness centers where they sponsor student and community programs and education, including ESL courses, tax preparation support, parenting classes and more. Because the Santa Ana area lacks common space for community gatherings, the district considered this an important initiative. District schools acting as hubs of the community provide valuable infrastructure for community programs. Providing dedicated space for these important programs engages the community while keeping school priorities at heart.
2) Supporting school arts and physical education programs
Arts programs are often the first cut by administrators when schools face financial constraints and budget cuts. Yet arts programs, including visual arts, drama/theater, music and more, remain important to student enrichment and provide valuable extracurriculars when building a compelling college or university application.
For example, data from the Oklahoma Department of Education suggests that 1,110 fine arts classes between 2014 and 2018 were ended in the state after a period of severe state budget cuts. In 2018, nearly 30 percent of public school students in Oklahoma went to a school with no fine arts classes. Other states have done similarly.
Communities can also count Physical Education programs among those most overlooked and underfunded. According to a survey from the Society of Health and Physical Educators the average funding for PE programs is just $764 per year. Considering that data from the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health and Nutrition Survey shows that obesity rates among teens hover around 20% and adults at 40%, PE programs still play an important role in the health and well-being of both school and community.
Districts who take a proactive approach to facility management through partnerships like with Facilitron will create and develop facility use programs that lead to increased revenue— revenues that could ultimately contribute to saving both art and physical education programs for students and community.
3) Better maintenance of school facilities
While funding additional programs which support school and community activities is good public relations and creates incentives among stakeholders, a bigger priority, of course, is better maintenance of what the evidence shows is already failing school infrastructure.
The most recent infrastructure report by the American Society of Civil Engineers graded U.S. classrooms a D+ and found that 53% of public schools need to make investments for repairs, renovations and modernizations before being considered in “good” condition. For schools to better their ranking, understanding how facility costs and revenues measure up, identifying potential new sources of funding through better management of facility rentals and implementing action plans based on real data can make a lasting impact not only on facilities but on staff and student well-being.
To move in that direction, the single most important step a district can take to more adequately maintain their facilities is to develop a sustainable facility use program that automates processes and collects data about how districts use facilities. Facilitron’s digital platform and approach to facility use programs allow districts to more clearly understand and review the out-of-date policies that lead to the inconsistent dispensation of school board policy.
Ultimately, establishing facility use programs that provide new funds allows schools to make budget decisions to better school programs and facilities. Unlocking these new funds enables administrators to put school atmosphere and student/community engagement first. Facilitron’s school partners continue to show creative ways to reinvest facilities use fees and reap the benefits of a modernized facilities management program that positively impact campuses, students and the community.