K-12 Capital Planning: Prioritizing Upgrades for Today’s Schools

emptydesksIn the 21st century school there are ever changing regulations. Data is used to make informed decisions on nearly all district matters: curriculum, hiring, onboarding, staff dismissal, professional development, and student services. What data is used for facility management and capital planning?

The Challenge

With demographics growing every year and facility purposes changing, it’s important to review facilities on a regular basis. However, many schools are working with a lean maintenance staff and a tight budget. This can create the perfect storm for remaining reactive, rather than becoming proactive about maintenance issues.

Where to Start?

Many firms believe replacing equipment to install newer technology is the first and best option. The alternative:  taking the time to analyze equipment is time intensive, and requires a unique set of skills. However, it is possible to take an approach where you first analyze equipment and prioritize what is critical to repair and then evaluate what needs to be replaced.

Taking a Closer Look

In order to know what recommendation to make for replacing and repairing equipment, a thorough walk through should occur. A few critical questions will arise:

  • What are the current district facility conditions?
  • What are the operational and energy costs?
  • Are the district buildings still being used for what they were originally intended?
  • Where are district facilities out of compliance?

This assessment creates a baseline and helps you understand the current state of your district facilities. With these data points, not only can you prioritize the issues, but also create a long term plan of how they will be funded.


By taking a holistic approach to evaluate the needs of your district facilities, you can get ahead of deferred maintenance. Taking time to analyze equipment and make proper prioritization is a strategy that will lead to the best use of your district's resources and lay the foundation for successful long term capital planning. Other benefits include:

  • Lessening the burden of potential downtime in critical campus buildings.
  • Reducing the number of emergency calls from teachers and staff to address comfort issues.
  • Producing ROI. With a baseline and goals, you can put metrics to the facility improvements. Showing ROI on facility improvements is something your School Board will understand and respect.

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