Editor's Note (The View From Here)
- By Deborah P. Moore
- October 1st, 2016
Planning, designing, constructing and
keeping a facility in acceptable condition are
formidable tasks. For most, garnering the necessary
support to fund these projects may be an
even bigger task. The perceived failure of our
current education system has made the public
wary of supporting future investments in education.
The tendency to dwell on the negative has
resulted in questions being raised about leadership, responsibility
and accountability — making it more difficult for institutions to gain
the public’s trust and needed financial support.
To regain that trust and support we can provide data gathered by
our planning and evaluation processes; data that can help manage
risk and prove need. On the facilities side, this includes the development
of comprehensive facility master plans, capital improvement
plans, post-occupancy evaluations and the use of facility condition
indexes to help determine relative condition and prioritize need.
Often, the first challenge faced is convincing leadership that resources
should be spent on a comprehensive planning process. Today’s
educational institutions are serving a much broader population. They
are becoming community centers, and facilities for early childhood
programs, job training/retraining and workforce development. Local
citizens should have a voice in the type of educational facilities planned
for their communities. This collective vision will result in a facility that
represents the needs of and is the collective responsibility of the community;
and is supported by all of the people who helped create it.
It is also important to understand that the job is not done when a
new building opens. Then comes the need for post-occupancy evaluations,
facility condition assessments and the development of a capital
improvement plan. Post-occupancy evaluations can reveal limitations
in the current design and prevent costly mistakes in the future.
The recent recession wreaked havoc on education funding. Jobs
were lost, the construction of new facilities decreased, maintenance of
existing facilities was deferred. Unfortunately, facility systems can only
last so long. The trend has shifted from building new to taking care of
what we have, reducing deferred maintenance and prioritizing projects.
To regain financial support for education we first need to regain
the public’s trust. Community involvement in the planning process
and defensible data are needed to support and frame the messages
we send — messages that must be sent by educational leaders who
display competence, exhibit integrity and are true to their word.
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of College Planning & Management.