36th Annual Maintenance & Operations Cost Study for Schools

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

Spending by school districts on maintenance and operations increased in 2006-07, reversing years of historic low expenditures. According to American School & University's 36th annual Maintenance and Operations Cost Study, the median school district spends 9.19 percent of total district expenditures (TDE) on M&O, up from 7.58 percent the year before.

While percentage spending has not been this high since the late 1990s, the amount still is significantly less than what was spent 20 years ago. Of particular note is that utility spending represented the largest category increase (28 percent) — reflecting among other things rapidly rising energy costs.

What follows is a compilation of findings from the latest M&O Cost Study that can help you in benchmarking expenditures at your institution. As you peruse the data, keep in mind that all costs are affected greatly by numerous factors that schools have limited control over, including age and overall condition of buildings, climate, the labor market in your area, as well as other aspects. In addition, data provided are not intended to be “ideal” amounts for M&O allocations — they are only reflections of actual spending by school districts.

Survey methodology

To arrive at data for the M&O Cost Study, a detailed questionnaire was mailed in October 2006 to chief business officials at the nation's public school districts asking them to document their institutions' M&O expenditures per student and per square foot for the 2006-07 school year. Categories include:

  • Per student: Based on total district enrollment (average daily attendance as of October 2006).
  • Per square foot: Based on total gross area of all district buildings maintained, including corridors, offices and common space.
  • Total district expenditures (TDE): Amounts for the 2006-07 school year.
  • Total maintenance and operations (M&O) expenditures: Including salaries, benefits, outside contracts, utilities, gas, electricity, trash collection/disposal, equipment and supplies, etc., for custodial, maintenance and grounds.
  • Custodial: Those individuals responsible for building upkeep and cleaning.
  • Maintenance: Those individuals who perform skilled jobs, such as electrical, HVAC or plumbing repair.
  • Grounds: Those individuals responsible for landscape upkeep and maintenance.
  • Payroll: Including benefits.
  • Average salary: Annualized, excluding benefits.
  • Outside contract labor: Those hired for specialized jobs to maintain or repair building systems or equipment, such as HVAC maintenance or repair.
  • Other utilities: Including water, telephone, etc.
  • Other: Most often identified as clerical costs, equipment repair and rental, insurance and travel.

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

Total Payroll $379.34
Custodial** $277.50
Maintenance** $123.64
Grounds** $31.95
Outside Contract Labor $3.30
Total Utilities $297.67
Gas** $64.67
Electricity** $137.49
Gas & Electricity (subtotal) $206.82
Other Fuels $25.73
Other Utilities $36.36
Trash Collection/Disposal $9.29
Total Equipment & Supplies $52.57
Custodial/Maint. Equip. & Supplies** $45.99
Grounds Equip. & Supplies** $6.72
Other $90.96
Total M&O* $823.84
Total District Expenditures (TDE) $8,967
M&O as % TDE 9.19%
*Calculated from subtotals (in bold).
*Based on fewer responses than the total due to schools that combine some of these categories.

Tracking square footage

Median amount of square feet (SF) and acreage maintained at school districts:

SF maintained per full-time custodial worker 23,408
SF maintained per full-time maintenance worker 86,194
Acres maintained per full-time grounds worker 44
SF maintained per building 63,893
SF of building maintained per student 174.15

Privatization

19.6%

Percentage of school districts contracting out maintenance and operations services.

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

Total Payroll $2.56
Custodial** $1.56
Maintenance** $0.78
Grounds** $0.17
Outside Contract Labor $0.01
Total Utilities $1.71
Gas** $0.39
Electricity** $0.80
Gas & Electricity (subtotal) $1.32
Other Fuels $0.09
Other Utilities $0.25
Trash Collection/Disposal $0.05
Total Equipment & Supplies $0.32
Custodial/Maint. Equip. & Supplies** $0.26
Grounds Equip. & Supplies** $0.04
Other $0.49
Total M&O* $5.09
Total District Expenditures (TDE) $53.95
*Calculated from subtotals (in bold).
**Based on fewer responses than the total due to schools that combine some of these categories.

 

Total gross area of buildings maintained

(including corridors and other common office areas of all district buildings) by survey respondents
Less than 125,000 square feet 8
125,000 to 249,999 square feet 7
250,000 to 449,999 square feet 17
450,000 to 699,999 square feet 9
700,000 to 1,249,999 square feet 20
1,250,000 square feet or more 26
No answer 13

20 years of M&O expenditures

Spending by school districts on maintenance and operations as a percentage of total district expenditures over the past two decades:
1988 12.75%
1989 11.70%
1990 11.31%
1991 9.38%
1992 10.73%
1993 9.03%
1994 9.21%
1995 9.05%
1996 9.55%
1997 9.59%
1998 9.40%
1999 9.09%
2000 9.03%
2001 8.50%
2002 7.78%
2003 7.43%
2004 7.70%
2005 7.51%
2006 7.58%
2007 9.19%

Salaries

Median salary for custodial and maintenance personnel at school districts:

Custodial $29,322
Maintenance $42,311

Personnel

Average number of full-time custodial and maintenance personnel at school districts:
Custodial 94
Maintenance 34

Total gross area of grounds maintained
(by survey respondents)

Less than 10 acres 2%
10 to 24 acres 9%
25 to 49 acres 9%
50 to 99 acres 11%
100 to 199 acres 20%
200 acres or more 33%
No answer 16%

Total maintenance and operations expenditures

(per survey respondents)

Less than $450,000 11%
$450,000 to $999,999 13%
$1 million to $1,749,999 13%
$1,750,000 to $2,749,999 13%
$2,750,000 to $6,499,999 11%
$6,500,000 or more 33%
No answer 6%

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

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