Asumag 720 Moschools08

37th Annual Maintenance & Operations Cost Study for Schools

April 1, 2008
Results from AS&U's 37th Annual Maintenance & Operations Cost Study

As tough economic conditions and rapidly rising costs continue to strain school district budgets, spending by K-12 institutions on maintenance and operations (M&O) faces growing pressure.

The median school district allocated a smaller percentage of total district expenditures (TDE) to M&O in 2007-08 — 8.35 percent, down from 9.19 percent the year before, according to American School & University's 37th annual Maintenance and Operations Cost Study. While lower, the 8.35 percent of TDE still is higher than the percentages allocated throughout much of the decade.

As noted last year, spending on energy/utilities remains high, reflecting skyrocketing costs to operate facilities. Rising prices also are forcing available funds to be redirected from other areas. For example, maintenance staff is being required to “do more with less” — the square footage maintained per full-time custodial worker jumped 14 percent to 26,786 from 23,408 the year before.

Following are findings 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 for allocations. Numerous factors — such as 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.

Study methodology

To arrive at data for the AS&U Maintenance & Operations Cost Study, a detailed questionnaire was mailed in October 2007 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 2007-08 school year. Categories include:
  • Per student: Based on total district enrollment (average daily attendance as of October 2007).

  • 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 2007-08 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.

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

Total Payroll $380.48
Custodial** $279.41
Maintenance** $88.87
Grounds** $35.99
Outside Contract Labor $41.70
Total Energy/Utilities $299.43
Energy (gas, electricity, other fuels)** $246.60
Utilities** $40.37
Trash Collection/Disposal** $9.94
Total Equipment & Supplies $68.18
Custodial/Maint. Equip. & Supplies** $45.58
Grounds Equip. & Supplies** $13.59
Other $86.55
Total M&O* $876.34
Total District Expenditures (TDE) $10,501
M&O as % TDE 8.35%
*Calculated from subtotals (in bold).
**Based on fewer responses than the total because of schools that combine some of these categories.

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

Total Payroll $2.05
Custodial** $1.61
Maintenance** $0.53
Grounds** $0.22
Outside Contract Labor $0.21
Total Energy/Utilities $1.52
Energy (gas, electricity, other fuels)** $1.25
Utilities** $0.22
Trash Collection/Disposal** $0.05
Total Equipment & Supplies $0.38
Custodial/Maint. Equip. & Supplies** $0.27
Grounds Equip. & Supplies** $0.06
Other $0.40
Total M&O Budget* $4.56
Total District Expenditures (TDE) $58.69
*Calculated from subtotals (in bold).
**Based on fewer responses than the total because of schools that combine some of these categories.

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 12
125,000 to 249,999 square feet 16
250,000 to 449,999 square feet 21
450,000 to 699,999 square feet 15
700,000 to 1,249,999 square feet 14
1,250,000 square feet or more 17
No answer 5

M&O expenditures — the past 20 years

Spending by school districts on maintenance and operations as a percentage of total district expenditures over the past two decades:

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%
2008 8.35%

8,742 Mean number of students of responding school districts.

Total gross area of grounds maintained

(by survey respondents)

Less than 10 acres 6%
10 to 24 acres 9%
25 to 49 acres 13%
50 to 99 acres 22%
100 to 199 acres 18%
200 acres or more 20%
No answer 12%

$6.9 Mean total M&O expenditure, in millions, of responding school districts.

Personnel update

Mean number of full-time custodial, maintenance and grounds personnel at school districts:

Custodial 58
Maintenance 25
Grounds 8

Privatizing M&O

17.7%
The percentage of school districts contracting out maintenance and operations services.

Total maintenance and operations expenditures

(per survey respondents)

Less than $450,000 10%
$450,000 to $999,999 10%
$1 million to $1,749,999 18%
$1,750,000 to $2,749,999 15%
$2,750,000 to $6,499,999 22%
$6,500,000 or more 15%
No answer 10%

$1.9
Mean amount spent annually, in millions, on energy (gas, electricity and other fuels) by responding school districts.

Square-footage details

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

SF maintained per full-time custodial worker 26,786
SF maintained per full-time maintenance worker 107,439
Acres maintained per full-time grounds worker 45
SF maintained per building 72,533
SF of bldg. maintained per student 177.61

1.4
Mean amount of square feet, in millions, maintained by responding school districts.

Salary update

Median salary for custodial and maintenance personnel at school districts: Custodial:$28,547 Maintenance:$40,000

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

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