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38th Annual Maintenance & Operations Cost Study for Schools

April 1, 2009
Results from AS&U's 38th Annual Maintenance & Operations Cost Study for Schools

Despite the worst economic environment in generations, spending by K-12 institutions on maintenance and operations (M&O) held its own — defying historical trends that have shown M&O spending among the most affected in times of budget tightening.

According to data collected for American School & University's 38th annual Maintenance & Operations Cost Study, the median school district allocated 9.57 percent of total district expenditures (TDE) to M&O in the 2008-09 school year. This is an increase over last year, and much better than the abnormally low percentages reported earlier in the decade.

Whether a reflection of when data was collected (data reported is for the 2008-09 school year and reflects budgets passed prior to the escalation of the economic crisis) or that M&O budgets have suffered so much over the years that most operations already are “bare bones” and further reductions would cause crippling results, only time will tell.

However, school district operations remain under pressure. For example, although energy expenditures saw some relief, custodial staff is being tasked with more responsibility. With a median of 32,100 square feet maintained per full-time custodian (an almost 20 percent increase over last year's amount), facility directors must look continually for ways to improve productivity so that staff can work smarter, safer and more efficiently.

The following pages include data from the latest M&O Cost Study that can help you in benchmarking expenditures at your institution. Data provided reflect actual spending by school districts on M&O and are not intended to be “ideal” amounts. Numerous factors — age and overall condition of buildings, the labor market in your area, climate, etc. — also will affect your costs when compared with the national medians.

For those looking for additional data, select the links below the Web Exclusive icon that will direct you to exclusive data not found in the print version on M&O expenditures and operations at our nation's school districts.

Methodology

To arrive at data for the 38th annual AS&U Maintenance & Operations Cost Study, a detailed questionnaire was mailed in January 2009 to chief business officials and directors of facilities at the nation's public school districts asking them to document their institutions' M&O expenditures per student and per square foot for the 2008-09 school year.

Categories include:

  • Per student: Based on total district enrollment (average daily attendance as of October 2008).

  • 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 2008-09 school year.

  • Total maintenance and operations (M&O) expenditures: Including salaries, benefits, outside contracts, utilities, energy, 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 HVAC, electrical 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.

  • Energy: Including gas, electricity and other fuels used to operate facilities.

  • Utilities: Including water, telephone, etc.

  • Other: Most often identified as clerical costs, equipment repair and rental, insurance and travel.

Total number of buildings in district

(of survey respondents)

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

Total Payroll $426.88
Custodial $277.60
Maintenance $118.31
Grounds $30.97
Outside Contract Labor $48.08
Total Energy/Utilities $295.13
Energy (gas, electricity, other fuels) $244.87
Utilities $37.82
Trash Collection/Disposal $12.44
Total Equipment & Supplies $67.03
Custodial/Maint. Equip. & Supplies $49.41
Grounds Equip. & Supplies $17.62
Other $73.08
Total M&O* $910.20
Total District Expenditures (TDE) $9,509.62
M&O as % TDE 9.57%
*Calculated from subtotals.

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

Total Payroll $2.07
Custodial $1.35
Maintenance $0.57
Grounds $0.15
Outside Contract Labor $0.23
Total Energy/Utilities $1.43
Energy (gas, electricity, other fuels) $1.19
Utilities $0.18
Trash Collection/Disposal $0.06
Total Equipment & Supplies $0.33
Custodial/Maint. Equip. & Supplies $0.24
Grounds Equip. & Supplies $0.09
Other $0.36
Total M&O Budget* $4.42
Total District Expenditures (TDE) $46.21
*Calculated from subtotals.

Total gross area of buildings maintained

(including corridors and other common and office areas of all district buildings)

by survey respondents

Less than 125,000 square feet 13
125,000 to 249,999 square feet 17
250,000 to 449,999 square feet 16
450,000 to 699,999 square feet 11
700,000 to 1,249,999 square feet 11
1,250,000 square feet or more 13
*"No answer" represents the remaining percentage to equal 100%.

Total gross area of grounds maintained

(by survey respondents)

Less than 10 acres 5%
10 to 24 acres 20%
25 to 49 acres 5%
50 to 99 acres 14%
100 to 199 acres 13%
200 acres or more 14%
*"No answer" represents the remaining percentage to equal 100%.

Total maintenance and operations expenditures

(per survey respondents)

Less than $450,000 14%
$450,000 to $999,999 16%
$1 million to $1,749,999 22%
$1,750,000 to $2,749,999 17%
$2,750,000 to $6,499,999 11%
$6,500,000 or more 9%
*"No answer" represents the remaining percentage to equal 100%.

How the M&O budget is split

(based on median dollars per FTE student)

Privatizing M&O

11%
The percentage of school districts contracting out maintenance and operations services

Green Cleaning in Schools

23%
The percentage of school districts with a green cleaning program

37%
The percentage of school districts (of those that don't have a program) that plan to add a green cleaning program in the near future

Median amount of square feet and acreage maintained

SF maintained per full-time custodial worker 32,100
SF maintained per full-time maintenance worker 92,074
Acres maintained per full-time grounds worker 31
SF maintained per building 64,200
SF of bldg. maintained per student

205.77

M&O expenditures over the past 20 years

Amount spent annually on transportation

Number of full-time maintenance, custodial and grounds staff

Salary data for custodial and maintenance personnel

More Schools M&O data

4,405
Mean number of students of responding school districts.

$3.5 million
Mean total M&O expenditure of responding school districts.

$1.01 million
Mean amount spent annually on energy (gas, electricity and other fuels) by responding school districts.

28
Mean number of buildings of responding school districts.

$1.7 million
Mean amount spent annually on transportation by responding school districts.

$351,688
Mean amount spent annually on custodial and maintenance supplies by responding school districts.

Agron is editor-in-chief of AS&U. Research conducted by Elinor Rice, senior research manager, Penton Media.

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