By: Scott Knapp

Schools have been in session nearly two months now; routines have been established, and kinks smoothed as the year is fast underway. It’s during this time that the administration is already looking ahead towards next spring’s planning and project lists.

Facility directors from across Missouri met in Branson last week for the annual MSPMA (Missouri School Plant Managers Association) conference to discuss common trends and themes that they see within their schools, best practices to consider, and the solutions available to meet their needs.

Below is a list of the three primary concerns and considerations that I came across this week (and a couple of tips on how to combat those concerns!)

Safety and security

It is unfortunate how often we hear about tragedies occurring in schools across the country, so it comes as no surprise that safety and security were one of the key subjects covered at this year’s conference. Security products like access control and video surveillance systems have evolved significantly to meet the increasing concern for safety within school settings. The technology that surrounds security moves at a very rapid pace which makes keeping up with the latest and greatest a significant challenge for facilities managers.

Tip: Attending annual events such as the MSPMA conference allows you to get a first-hand look at the newest and most effective devices while also having an opportunity to talk with integrators, like-minded individuals, and thought leaders.

Managing Routine Maintenance

Consider the maintenance that you have to do for your vehicle; routine oil changes, inspections, and tire rotations are done as proactive measures to prevent more costly (and dangerous) errors down the line. The same applies to the systems that you manage. Although the IT staff manages the backend of some of these systems, it’s mostly the facility leader’s responsibility to ensure compliance, functionality, and upkeep of these critical systems. Unfortunately, in most cases, the facilities leader is working with a limited staff and budget while the to-do list keeps growing.

Tip: Find a systems provider who can also manage and provide maintenance for your systems. Working with a systems integrator enables you to stretch your budget; systems can be repaired on a break-fix model, allowing you immediate access to a technician for support without having to hire a full-time position. Routine inspections of your fire safety systems are managed by the same provider. You’re saving valuable dollars that can finally be used to replace outdated devices (that may or may not be held together with duct tape.)

Modernization: Budgeting time for new technology

New systems, like surveillance or access control, require not only experienced technicians for installation also require additional configuration, on-going management, and maintenance. As mentioned before, it’s incredibly hard to keep up with one specific technology. When you’re also working with IT for planning and implementation, it’s incredibly easy to become overwhelmed while dealing with all of the backend components as well.

Tip: In order to mitigate any misunderstandings or questions, bringing in an experienced systems provider and technicians who are experts on these entire systems is beneficial.  These providers also have the ability to work with IT to ensure backend configurations are complete AND work with the facility staff on installation and general management.

If you have any additional questions or to learn more about the technology available for your schools, click here!