In Brief: Keeping Your School on Track and on Budget

Managers of education facilities face no easy task in arranging repair projects around school schedules. To complicate matters, tight operation budgets and funding cuts do not ease the demand on these jobs. Consequently, relatively inexpensive projects put aside have a tendency to add up in backlogs. What makes these growing backlogs particularly precarious is the ability for those minor projects to balloon into major projects capable of consuming valuable time and resources.

In the July/August issue of School Business Affairs, our very own Mark Foster explored this dilemma and provided strategies and best practices to help keep things running on track and on schedule. Below is a summary of that article.

The Deferred Maintenance Problem

According to a study by Pacific Partners Consulting Group, $1 of deferred maintenance equates to $4 of future capital renewal needs. Deferred maintenance doesn’t happen suddenly. It comes to pass after long periods of time. Small daily expenses pushed aside compound into major expenses with single problems fracturing into multiple substantial problems. For instance, failing to maintain an HVAC unit at a relatively low cost over time can lead to a sudden need to buy an entirely new unit.

With whiteboards, high-tech media centers, green spaces, etc. now the expectation on campuses, the issue is further compounded. On top of which, if a school lacks adequate in-house resources to keep up with these tasks, expect the backlog to flourish.

Another Way to Procure Construction Projects

A mere 2.5% of all construction budgets are delivered on time and within budget, according to a study by PriceWaterHouse Coopers. Time delays and cost overruns have played significant roles in establishing these circumstances, circumstances which can be linked to traditional procurement methods.

Traditional procurement methods for construction projects historically have been unnecessarily slow and inflexible. However, alternative procurement methods are available. Take Job Order Contracting (JOC), a method proven to streamline construction timelines and decrease cost overruns.

By establishing local, competitively awarded contracts up front for an indefinite number of projects, the time taken for the bidding process is substantially decreased. Projects also do not need to be bid separately, which is especially beneficial for schools with overgrown backlogs.

In a study from Arizona State University’s Performance Based Studies Research group, it was found that 96% of projects completed with JOC were accomplished with satisfactory results and 60% of owners who used the method were more satisfied than when they used traditional procurement methods. Further, 87% of projects procured by this method were delivered on time and owners reported an estimated 24% administrative cost savings.

Hackensack Public Schools

Located in norther New Jersey, the Hackensack Public School District serves over 5,000 students and employs nearly 400 faculty and staff members. In 2015, the district began using JOC because the process satisfies the city’s bidding requirements while allowing for more projects to be completed than would be allowed otherwise due to time savings. For instance, at Nellie K. Parker School, a manhole cover was sinking into the ground as winter was rapidly approaching. Within two days the project was completed.

In Closing

JOC allows educational facilities to accelerate the procurement process for an array of deferred maintenance projects. Staying ahead of these deferred maintenance projects allows schools to save more money and time in the long run while providing the best possible environments for students and staff alike.