School administrations are stretched thin as things stand, with many schools in districts across the US suffering from underfunding or misplaced funding. Health and safety are leading and central concerns for school bodies, but also concerns that can be overlooked by districts. As a leading member of maintenance personnel for a new school, what are some key areas to investigate?
Laptops and Computers
Investment in learning devices and administrative equipment – in the form of laptops and computers – is not usually the haunt of maintenance staff. Other leaders within the administration will be responsible for managing the purchasing of these items and equipment.
However, their correct maintenance and disposal are important to consider, as electrical devices can pose a health and safety risk if not regularly inspected and repaired. The EPA recommends that spent electrical goods are recycled rather than disposed of, to protect the environment.
Water Systems and Air Conditioning
Water is an essential provision in schools – and one which is not being properly provided in many underfunded districts. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan is a leading example of the difficulties that schoolchildren can face as a result of underfunding and environmental issues.
A new essential provision is also emerging in the form of air conditioning. Many regions in the US experience warm summers already, but the advancement of anthropogenic climate change has seen more regions suffer heat waves and drought. Investment in air conditioning is crucial to preserving the safety and comfort of staff and students alike.
Your school’s electrical routing will be complex enough without considering the lighting systems for hallways and classrooms. Older systems can see maintenance staff constantly replacing failing fluorescent bulbs and entire units, to say nothing of the impact of human error in leaving costly lights on overnight.
A simple and elegant solution can be found in the form of automated lighting systems. With such systems, photocontrols are used to ‘read’ movement in a given space and switch lights on if movement is detected. This way, hallways, and classrooms can be safely accessed in the dark and energy can be saved overnight.
Security has been one of the leading concerns facing schools and school maintenance in recent years, as news stories regarding violent incidents in schools continue to proliferate. Many school districts are directing key funding into new security systems and approaches, including training and drills for children.
The aforementioned automated lighting system would not only have energy efficiency and cost-reduction impacts for the school building itself but could also form an integral part of school security. Overnight break-ins can be deterred with automated lights, comprehensive CCTV systems, and alarms.
Many schools in the US are investing more heavily in fortification measures, to deter violent entry and events during the school day. Strengthened windows and door barricades are recommended to lock intruders and bad actors out of classrooms, while emergency exit points can be crucial for safe evacuation.