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Articles: Maintenance

Designing new buildings or retrofitting existing ones to meet standards for natural disasters is an especially complex challenge for school leaders. But building to a more modern code makes a district eligible for more federal assistance

School with a view—beautiful but dangerous? Seaside High School is the only building in Seaside School District in Oregon with ocean views, above. Broadway Middle School is in the tsunami inundation zone, but without a view.

The earthquake-susceptible Seaside School District in Oregon—which covers the communities of Gearhart, Cannon Beach and Seaside—faces an estimated $99.7 million bond referendum November 8 to move its schools out of a tsunami zone on the Pacific Ocean.

Seaside has three schools with 1,500 students in the tsunami inundation zone, says Douglas C. Dougherty, former schools superintendent.

Students and administrators of Clark County School District in Nevada launched construction on six new elementary schools, part of a 10-year, $4.1 billion construction campaign.

Growing evidence shows that well-maintained and updated school facilities promote learning, as well as student and staff health, and help curb long-term school expenses.

Fears of lead-tainted water in U.S. schools surged this year at the same time a report found the nation spends $46 billion less on annual school construction and maintenance than is necessary to ensure safe and healthy facilities.

First-time Superintendent Bilal Tawwab took over Flint's public schools just a month before the city's water crisis erupted.

First-time Superintendent Bilal Tawwab started work at Flint Community Schools in September, prepared to take on the district’s budget deficit of $10.5 million and a number of poor-performing schools. The city’s infamous water crisis erupted during his first month at the helm of the district of 7,000 students

A growing number of states require or encourage school districts to adopt green products.

The health risk posed by products with potential carcinogens that pushed Columbia Public Schools in Missouri to adopt simpler, more cost-effective—and ultimately greener—methods. Yet, most district leaders say removing all chemicals is nearly impossible.

Columbia Schools shifted from 33 chemicals to 10 green products to clean their district schools. Here’s what they used to use, and what they’ve adopted today.

At Bee Cave Elementary School, students gather around the teacher for story time in one small space, allowing the school to save energy and money in areas of the room that don’t need lighting.

Lighting is often the overlooked energy hog in the room—accounting for 26 percent of the energy used in a typical school. Retrofitting lighting can reduce that by as much as 50 percent, and it's is often simpler and less expensive than upgrading HVAC systems, producing a quick return on investment.

Gloria Marshall Elementary School in Spring ISD in Texas has visible AC fixtures throughout the building. (Luis Ayala/US Green Building Council)

When a classroom is sweltering, nobody is productive. More and more teaching days are being lost to hot, humid weather even though there is a way to mitigate the problem: air conditioning. But the challenge is justifying the cost of installation and maintenance at a time when competition for budget money is fierce.

Administrators budgeting for construction have the tools and access to ensure their buildings’ shells—the roofs, windows and insulation—are energy-efficient and easy to maintain. There are many issues to consider—here are some guidelines.

A synthetic field at Asbury Park High School at Asbury Park Public Schools in New Jersey, by FieldTurf, is one of various fields that needs regular maintenance and care.

Installing a synthetic-surface athletic field can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Any school district that invests in one and then treats it as a maintenance-free luxury may end up spending a lot more money on repairs and replacements.

There are few universal answers to maintaining natural-grass athletic fields. The specifics and the costs vary widely based on region, altitude, frequency of use and the type of grass under the cleats.

Sodexo Education employees bring technical expertise to improve cleanliness in schools.

At what point does it make sense for a district to outsource janitorial services and buildings and grounds maintenance?

Among those who may want to consider outsourcing include district leaders who would like to see equipment cost savings by participating in the buying power of a large company or administrators who are frequently engaged in labor disputes with janitor unions.

Energy specialists for the Tulsa Public Schools inspect an air-cooled chiller during one of their daily energy audits of facilities throughout the district.

Focusing on energy management can bring large savings to a district. From using special software to enlisting the help of outside advising firms, district leaders can leverage tools and best practices to manage their energy consumption and thereby reduce costs.

Here are nine tips and tricks from district leaders and energy experts for controlling energy costs in your district:

Rosa Parks Elementary

The "Big One" is coming, said Chris Goldfinger, professor in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, at the American Institute of Architects' Portland conference in late June. Goldfinger, a renowned expert on earthquakes, believes that within the next 50 years, Washington and northern Oregon face a 10 to 15 percent chance of an offshore quake that could cause a powerful tsunami, and southern Oregon has more than a 37 percent chance of experiencing a magnitude 8 or higher earthquake.

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