As many schools begin receiving students and staff full-time, they face another challenge. Facility condition is a top priority after its year-long vacancy. Admins focus on this since the health of occupants is crucial. The inspection of schools is exposing a significant hurdle on the path to health facilities and learning environments. This hurdle appears that they deferred maintenance. Consider the situation in two school districts.

With preparations underway to reopen Clark County (Nev.) School District after months, the district’s facilities are back in the spotlight. Ranging from a few months to 100 years old, the 400 buildings need $7.9 billion of funds. All that for modernization, life cycle, and equity updates, including deferred regular maintenance. This news is according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Back in 2019

By late 2019, they also amassed a backlog of around 15,000 maintenance requests. These requests include HVAC, plumbing, and structural repairs. This situation earned a stark warning from then-facilities chief David McKinnis. According to him, some were “dangerously close to imminent failure.” The school district says workers have been on campuses throughout building closures. They aim to reduce the maintenance backlog, keep up facilities and improve ventilation. They do so since it is critical to mitigating the spread of airborne germs like the new coronavirus. This work halved the maintenance backlog from 15,000 to 8,000 requests, according to the district.

The Central Consolidated School District’s capital budget is not enough. This district in Newcomb, New Mexico, only has $3.1 million. A fund this small cannot cover all the construction and maintenance needs. This statement is according to Candice Thompson, the district’s director of operations. She said that administrators should be creative in how they address those issues.

The district’s dilemma is also the dilemma of many districts in the northwestern part of the state. They struggle to build and maintain infrastructure designed to accommodate and educate kids. Moreover, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the districts are cash-strapped. They are short of funds for facilities because they can’t generate enough revenue. Their property taxes are insufficient to repay general obligation bonds needed for improvements. Many of the land within their boundaries are tax-exempt federal or tribal property.

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