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DOE launches modernized facilities maintenance program

A new contracting method is supposed to speed up repairs

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is redesigning its facilities maintenance program to align the department’s strategic focus on providing respectful learning environments with its core value of ensuring access to a quality public education for every student in every community across the state. 

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said the effort reflects the Department’s commitment to a well-defined accountability structure and to making project data both understandable and publicly available. 

The three-part initiative involves streamlining how the DOE contracts repair services to fast-track priority projects, increasing the community’s access to project details with an online database under development, and implementing a data-driven analysis to plan for future school needs. 

The initiative, already underway, is being called Future Schools Now, conveying the urgency of modernizing all Hawaii public schools to foster innovation and world-class learning. HIDOE’s facilities maintenance branch oversees 4,425 buildings and more than 20 million square feet of space across 256 campuses statewide with a fiscal 2018 facilities budget of $274 million. 

“Our school facilities play a critical role in providing equitable access to a quality public education for all students,” Superintendent Kishimoto said. “Every student, teacher and administrator needs to be able to walk onto campuses and into classrooms that provide safe, respectful, ready access to world-class learning opportunities. I want to acknowledge and thank my facilities staff for their commitment to this goal.” 

Corey Rosenlee, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said, “We applaud the DOE’s efforts to address the school maintenance backlog. Even with these changes, Hawaii still needs a significant increase in funding from the Legislature to repair our aging schools and give our keiki the learning environment they deserve.”

“This redesign effort will provide our stakeholders and partners with information that allows them to be data-informed advocates for equitable funding and resources,” said Dann Carlson, Assistant Superintendent for School Facilities and Support Services. “While this is a huge undertaking — with 1 in 5 HIDOE schools over 100 years old — we are confident that we can carry out this important work with fidelity under the Future Schools Now framework.” 

New contracting process 

HIDOE will be using a proven method called Job Order Contracting to expedite work on repairing school roofs, the largest category on HIDOE’s repair and maintenance (R&M) backlog. 

The method allows the department to contract several vendors through competitive bidding for commonly encountered projects over the life of a multiyear contract, rather than having to bid out individual jobs for repairs. 

Using the traditional design-bid-build method takes on average seven years to move through the appropriation, design, bidding and construction phases; job order contracting can be completed within months, providing an additional avenue to more quickly process common repair projects. 

HIDOE plans to start with roof repairs and will be awarding up to three roofing contractors per island on Oahu and the Big Island using job order contracting starting in December. 

The aim is to eventually handle all roof repairs with this method, followed by heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and electrical upgrades in future rollouts. 

 

Searchable project tracker 

HIDOE is creating an online database of its Capital Improvements Program (CIP) projects statewide to better track projects in the pipeline and establish a “systems of record.” The searchable database provides information on design and construction contract amounts, the status of projects, and awarded vendors. 

The database is being beta-tested internally with HIDOE facilities and Complex-Area-level administrators, with broader staff access planned for early 2019 along with state legislators and other stakeholders. 

A public version of the project database will be developed for the broader community and scheduled for release during the 2019-20 school year. 

Facilities master plan 

HIDOE has engaged Jacobs Engineering to provide a comprehensive facilities study that will provide a 14-point analysis to drive future facilities development. The study will establish a facilities master plan that is data-driven, and will ensure the state gives equal weight to “where we need to go” with “what we need fixed now.” 

Repair and maintenance backlog 

As part of the Future Schools Now effort, the Department also will be restating its repair and maintenance (R&M) backlog to better align with industry standards and accurately reflect pending projects that require funding to complete. 

HIDOE is shifting away from a focus on a multimillion-dollar total and instead moving toward tracking R&M needs across the system according to the type of repair — by number of projects and estimated cost. This will increase visibility around the greatest needs in our schools and allow decision-makers to target resources for priority areas. 

Reducing the R&M backlog, which contains approximately 3,800 projects, is included in the Department’s Strategic Plan as a statewide success indicator. 

Going forward, HIDOE will use data from the CIP project tracker to provide real-time updates to the R&M backlog as part of its regular quarterly fiscal reports to the state Board of Education. 

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Author: Keoki Kerr
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