36th Annual Maintenance & Operations Cost Study for Colleges

Results from AS&U's 36th Annual Maintenance & Operations Cost Study for Colleges

Colleges are focusing increased effort — and money — to improve the physical condition of existing facilities and address a huge backlog of deferred maintenance. According to American School & University's 36th annual Maintenance and Operations Cost Study, the median college spends 16.4 percent of total college budget on M&O, up from 11 percent the year before.

The boost in percentage spending by colleges reflects a growing need by institutions to get their physical plants prepared for the approximately 2 million more students projected to enter their doors over the next decade. While spending on M&O by far surpassed annual percentage amounts reported over the past decade, much of the increase could be attributed to huge outlays this school year for the cost of utilities — especially gas, which skyrocketed 117 percent from what was spent per student the year before.

More information from the latest M&O Cost Study follows, providing you with valuable data that can help you in benchmarking expenditures at your institution. As you review the information, keep in mind that the survey only targets two-year and four-year colleges with no significant graduate programs in order to provide useful comparative data. Larger four-year universities with significant graduate programs are not surveyed because their costs and activities typically are so varied that results would be less useful.

Survey methodology

Data for the annual M&O Cost Study were collected via an in-depth questionnaire mailed in October 2006 to physical plant directors at two-year and four-year colleges with no significant graduate programs. Recipients were asked to document various M&O costs for the 2006-07 school year. The tables and charts detail median M&O expenditures per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student and per square foot, as well as the incidence of various maintenance practices.

Among the titles included:

  • Administrative: Those individuals who have managerial or supervisory duties (does not include the overall director of physical plant).

  • Custodial: Those individuals responsible for building upkeep and cleaning.

  • Maintenance: Those individuals who perform skilled jobs, such as plumbing, electrical or HVAC repair.

  • Grounds: Those individuals responsible for landscape maintenance and upkeep.

Maintenance & Operations Costs (Expressed in median dollars per FTE student)

Salaries $409.76$
Benefits (based on full-time only) $117.66
Total Utilities $434.66
Gas** $145.83
Electricity** $277.30
Gas & Electricity (subtotal) $368.66
Other Utilities** $72.64
Total Equipment & Supplies $92.26
Custodial/Maint. Equip. & Supplies** $64.96
Grounds Equip. & Supplies** $23.73
Vehicle Maintenance $15.90
Other $78.97
Total M&O* $1,149.21
% M&O of Total College Budget 16.4%
*Calculated from sub-totals (in bold).
**Based on fewer responses than the total due to schools that combine some of these categories.

Privatization

29

Percentage of colleges that outsource M&O services.

Median M&O salaries and number of employees at colleges

(Full-time employees)

Function Salary # of Employees
Administrative $50,000 2
Custodial/Housekeeping $22,500 8
Grounds $27,164 3
Maintenance $32,017 7

10 years of M&O expenditures

Spending by colleges on maintenance and operations as a percentage of total college expenditures over the past decade:

1998 9.7%
1999 10%
2000 10%
2001 10.5%
2002 10%
2003 10%
2004 9.5%
2005 10%
2006 11%
2007 16.4%

Maintenance & Operations Costs (Expressed in median dollars per square foot)

Salaries $1.87
Benefits (based on full-time only $0.45
Total Utilities $1.90
Gas** $0.53
Electricity** $1.03
Gas & Electricity (subtotal) $1.61
Other Utilities** $0.24
Total Equipment & Supplies $0.42
Custodial/Maint. Equip. & Supplies** $0.26
Grounds Equip. & Supplies** $0.13
Vehicle Maintenance $0.06
Other $0.46
Total M&O* $5.16
Sq. ft. of bldg. maint. per FTE student 272
*Calculated from sub-totals (in bold).
**Based on fewer responses than the total due to schools that combine some of these categories.

Square footage maintained

The amount of square feet of building maintained per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student at colleges over the past decade (in median square feet):

1997 220
1998 194
1999 206
2000 219
2001 213
2002 189
2003 207
2004 183
2005 197
2006 272

Total gross area maintained of all buildings

(including corridors and other common and office areas) (by responding institutions)

Less than 150,000 sq. ft. 13%
150,000 to 299,999 sq. ft. 18%
300,000 to 449,999 sq. ft. 10%
450,000 to 599,999 sq. ft. 18%
600,000 to 749,999 sq. ft. 20%
750,000 to 999,999 sq. ft. 8%
1 million sq. ft. or more 8%
No answer 5%

Total grounds acreage maintained

(by survey respondents)

Less than 40 acres 26%
40 to 80 acres 15%
80.1 to 110 acres 10%
110.1 to 200 acres 26%
More than 200 acres 15%
No answer 8%

Number of buildings at institution

1 to 4 buildings 10%
5 to 10 buildings 15%
11 to 15 buildings 23%
16 to 25 buildings 18%
26 to 40 buildings 18%
More than 40 buildings 13%
No answer 3%

Detailed data

Following are medians for the 2006-07 school year:

Sq. ft. of bldg. maintained per student 272
Sq. ft. maintained per custodial employee 39,391
Sq. ft. maintained per maintenance employee 71,479
Acres maintained per grounds employee 30
Total reported M&O Budget $2 million

FTE enrollment (of responding institutions)

Less than 600 students 18%
600 to 999 students 10%
1,000 to 1,999 students 23%
2,000 to 2,999 students 18%
3,000 to 4,999 students 5%
5,000 to 9,999 students 10%
10,000 students or more 6%
No answer 10%

M&O budget (of survey respondents)

Less than $1 million 26%
$1 million to $2 million 23%
$2,000,001 to $3 million 18%
$3,000,001 to $5 million 13%
More than $5 million 15%
No answer 5%

Agron is editor-in-chief of AS&U.

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