Truth or myth: K–12 facilities and operational spending

5 minutes

When it comes to fund distribution for K–12 schools and districts, there are many folks who get to weigh in on the budget and where money goes. From teachers and parents to voters, government officials, and other high-level school leadership administrators, there are many opinions for allocating what is often a very limited number of dollars.

Naturally, facilities and operational teams often have the hardest time of all with their budget requests, even though these departments are the reason lights stay on, halls stay clean, and HVACs (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) remain functioning.

For schools and districts, budgeting is complex, as is balancing the priorities of students, staff, parents, and the needs of facilities. Luckily, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

4 budgeting myths keeping your operations off the honor roll

Next to providing the foundational education that will foster tomorrow’s contributors to society, K–12 schools serve the purpose of keeping our youngest members of society safe. And that safety depends on the health of the assets and buildings where they spend their formative early years.

Today, we’re debunking a few budgeting myths and shining a light on how a suite of powerful asset management tools, like Brightly's learning management software, can drastically improve your school's operational management and budgeting processes for everyone involved.  

Myth #1: Budgets are set, and facilities teams can’t do much about it

With so many priorities competing for what are often quite limited funding, your operational and facility leaders might feel like they don’t even have a chance to voice their concerns about what your schools' infrastructure or assets require.

Participating in complex budgetary conversations requires facilities leaders to speak the same language as finance leaders — and the proof to back it up. Operational and asset management software can assist with a lot of problems, like giving teams the capabilities to accomplish more with less (like getting ahead of maintenance, implementing preventive measures, managing and monitoring asset health, etc.). Equally as important, it can enable them to access and bring relevant data and insights to budgeting discussions, so decision-makers have the information they need to direct funds towards essential projects.

Myth #2: There’s no room in K–12 budgets for sustainability initiatives

If anything, sustainability is a victim of bad branding. Folks hear the word and equate it with compostable everything or ripping out existing structures to replace with a new-fangled replacement, but that’s simply not the case.

Many communities are requesting sustainability initiatives, not to mention new regulations being implemented. The good news is that adopting sustainable practices, such as identifying areas of energy waste, can help schools save money! Adopting sustainable practices, such as identifying areas of energy waste, can help schools save money. Energy management software centralizes utility management so your district or school’s facility and energy managers can find where utility waste is happening and correct it. (And as a bonus, the right tool will help you prove and communicate success to stakeholders, the community, the government, and anyone else interested.  

Myth #3: Capital planning is supposed to be complicated

For K–12 schools and districts, a manual capital and asset investment planning (AIP) process is cumbersome, especially when considering information collection and analysis, unforeseen variables, manual processes, and the time and resources to do it all (and then do again once your data is out of date). Enlisting an engineering firm for AIP? That’s a hefty price tag, only to be left with data that becomes obsolete once assessments are completed.

Capital planning software can deliver strategic insight into your school’s facilities, assets, and resources while leveraging existing CMMS data. A cloud-based solution that combines asset management, asset health, and capital planning can enable better management of your AIP.  

Myth #4: Events don’t cost money if you already have the space

One hugely overlooked area in terms of budgets? Events! Many K–12 facilities are used for both school and community purposes. A common misconception is that because the space is already there, it’s essentially paid for already.

But what about the additional use of energy to add light and power to the space? What about the team responsible for cleaning up after who must now work overtime? What about the general wear and tear? When you are using your fieldhouse, auditorium, lunchroom, or classroom beyond its normally scheduled use, there are dozens of hidden costs. An event management solution can help track all this data (and even help with recouping costs via invoice tracking or making data presentable to justify the ask for payment to rent the space).  

Brightly: helping your school get on the budget honor roll

Your K–12 school deserves smart operational technology that can work together. That’s why Brightly has created a powerful suite of learning management software modules to boost your budgeting and facilities management. Our solutions include:

  • Asset Essentials™ gives maintenance teams the power to shift to preventive maintenance and schedule services before an asset fails (and the data to talk about it in your next PTO meeting)
  • Energy Manager™ enables schools to track ahead on sustainability initiatives and combat rising energy costs 
  • Origin™ leverages real-time asset data to prove capital spending through predictive modeling and improve your AIP
  • Event Manager™ centralizes all those vital details from facility rental, scheduling, invoicing and payments and more to streamline event data and deliver true insight into your event costs

At Brightly, we bring over two decades of experience working with educational leaders to solve some of their most pressing operations, facilities, and asset management challenges. Ready to get started? Schedule a demo with a Brightly expert today!

Need more help debunking misconceptions about budgets, your facilities, and technology to optimize your operations management? Check out our K–12 Mythbusters Fact Sheet.