Abandoned Schools: Lessons in Maintenance

Keeping up with the maintenance and repair needs of K-12 schools is tough enough, given the constraints on public funding and the challenges that creates for maintenance and engineering managers. Now, many school districts also face the task of also finding the resources to maintain abandoned schools. Check out the challenges facing this U.S. city. >>> http://ow.ly/Qh01m

8 Replies

  • This is such a difficult issue. Districts are strapped for resources, but if a closed school is left untended it can fall into dangerous condition in a hurry. This of course makes it harder to reuse the facility, but it also impacts the property values and safety of the community around the building.

    In this article, I talked with several parties involved with schools that were closed. Some had redeveloped the properties; others were struggling to keep the vandals at bay. It really opened my eyes to the intricacies around managing closed school facilities. www.facilitiesnet.com/.../Closed-Schools-Create-Challenges-For-Districts--14935
  • In reply to Naomi Millán:

    Great article, and nice perspective on a challenging issue. Thanks for sharing.
  • In my opinion, instead of leaving the schools abandoned, why not utilize those buildings into some useful facilities. They could rent them out to generate income while having the renters pay for maintenance. It is a win-win situation for everyone and serves as a profitable channel in one way or another.
  • I would think that the whole issue with maintaining schools lie with the government. Their budget on education needs to be increased or you will see schools moving all over the country due to ruin and dilapidation!
  • In reply to PaulChau:

    Paul, they considered doing that with an abandoned elementary school in my town. But the utility bills for the school were too high for any of the suggested uses for the building. In the end, they decided to tear down the building. Just last week voters approved a ballot issue to increase local taxes to pay for a new community center to be built in its place. That was one of the consierations for the school before it was torn down. But the renovations and ongoing utility bills for the inefficient building would have been more expensive than building a whole new building. I think the economics and politics sometimes push communities into these types of decisions.
  • In reply to Naomi Millán:

    Abandoned schools are often built in a stout manner that lends itself to affordable housing conversion.  School districts can deem these sites surplus and offer them for conversion into affordable housing.  Affordable housing developers use Low Income Housing Tax Credits and other sources of funding to finance their projects, and sometimes do need a bit more time to secure all the funding for a project.  Consider affordable housing as a reuse for your surplus school site.  It sure is better than carrying the unused asset in mothballs, subject to vandalism, break-ins and decay.

  • In reply to PaulChau:

    i agree with Paul. I was involved in a government school sustainability project a few years back and proposed generating income from hiring of the school hall and class rooms after schooling hours and on weekends. the school generates income from functions, religious organisations and recently from an astro turf football facility which pays for the maintenance and upkeep on the school.
  • In reply to PaulChau:

    I agree. where I live they shut down a school, and now rent the classrooms out to small companies for office space; and the gym is rented to local organizations for travel basketball and private gymnastics. Like you said, a win-win

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