Inside: Maintenance

Dec. 1, 2006
Greener cleaners; Going private


A group advocating the use of more environmentally friendly cleaning supplies in school facilities has put together a set of guidelines to help schools focus more on children's safety when purchasing materials.

“Many of the most commonly used cleaners and disinfectants contain chemicals that are known to cause both acute and long-term health problems,” says Grassroots Environmental Education.

The “ChildSafe Guidelines” stress that administrators responsible for cleaning school facilities and choosing cleaning products “must seek out the most protective criteria for children, recognizing that these requirements will necessarily be more stringent than those for adults.”

The guidelines provide specific recommendations in three categories: general-purpose cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants, and floor cleaning.

“The unique vulnerability of children to environmental toxins, especially those to which they have been exposed every day, requires the most careful analysis of products used in their environments,” the guidelines state.

The complete list of guidelines is online at


A survey of Michigan school districts this summer showed that 63 systems in the state had privatized part or all of their custodial operations.

That number represented a 26 percent increase over the previous year, when 50 districts said they had privatized custodial services. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, an education and research group based in Midland, Mich., conducted the survey of more than 550 districts in Michigan.

“The savings school districts can achieve with competitive contracting (are) substantial,” the center asserts.

The survey noted that a district in Muskegon estimated it would save $480,000 a year with private custodians, and a new custodial contract in Jackson, Mich., is expected to save $1.3 million annually, or about $193 a student.


Twelve school systems received the 2006 Facilities Masters Award at the annual meeting of the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) in October.

The award program, sponsored by, honors districts that have achieved excellence in areas such as facilities management planning, facility audits, environmental safety, maintenance and management, evaluating facility maintenance efforts and exemplary practices.

“The purposes of the Facilities Masters Award program,” says ASBO's Roger Young, “are to promote best facilities maintenance practices, to improve the maintenance of school facilities, to help build the skills of plant managers and school business officials, and to recognize school districts that have achieved the highest standards in facilities maintenance.”

The basis for the award program includes best practices outlined in the “Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities,” created by the National Center for Education Statistics, the National Forum for Education Statistics and ASBO.

(See chart below for winning districts.)


School districts that received the 2006 Facilities Masters Award at the annual meeting of the Association of School Business Officials International:

Colorado Springs (Colo.) School District 11 Derry Township (Pa.) School District Dysart (Ariz.) Unified School District Independent School District 196 (Minn.) Lewisville (Texas) Independent School District Newark (N.J.) School District Parkland (Alberta) School Division 70 Richland (S.C.) District Two Rock Hill (S.C.) School District Three Solanco (Pa.) School District State College (Pa.) Area School District Wake County (N.C.) School District

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