March 14, 2021

Message from the CASH Chair – Preparing our schools to reopen

By Julie Arthur, CASH Chair

As the discussion on how and when to reopen schools has become the focus at the federal, state and local levels, CASH understands that school facilities and maintenance plays a significant role in this critical issue. CASH continues to focus on providing resources to K-12 school districts and county offices of education from a school facilities and maintenance perspective that will allow them to be part of getting students back in the classroom.

Federal and State Resources

While there may be confusion and overlap on many federal and state programs, it is also true that there are opportunities to make significant investments in aging school facilities and building systems, that address both the immediate challenges of COVID-19, and the intermediate goal of creating safe and healthy learning environments for students and teachers. CASH is advocating for funding and programs that can assist school facility and maintenance departments to pay for upgrades needed to safely reopen. The CASH advocacy team is also reviewing legislation that has been introduced and will provide a full summary of significant CASH bills on our website and at the CASH Statewide School Facility Monthly Meetings. Two significant bills that have been introduced are, AB 75 (O’Donnell) and SB 22 (Glazier), which proposes statewide school facility bonds. CASH was at the table for stakeholder discussions before AB 75 was introduced, and will continue to work with both authors as the bills move through the legislative process.

Hot Topic: Ventilation

Adequate ventilation in schools is widely agreed by the scientific community and building system experts to be a key aspect of addressing COVID-19 in K-12 school facilities. CASH and the CASH Maintenance Network (CMN) have been leaders in advocating for funding and providing information to help schools improve their indoor air quality in preparation to reopen and beyond. The CMN has communicated school facility and maintenance concerns with the California Energy Commission (CEC) as they develop AB 841 into a grant program. CASH and the CMN have also worked with the Division of the State Architect (DSA) and school advocacy associations to ensure their guidelines related to installation of CO2 monitors (DSA IR N-2) are clear. CASH believes that CO2 monitors are an important part of measuring and maintaining healthy indoor air quality – you can’t improve what you don’t measure. We will work with DSA, K-12 schools and other stakeholders to ensure that funding is available to all that will allow schools to address the actual costs of installing CO2 monitors in classrooms.

Looking Forward: CASH Annual Conference 2021

As you may have heard by now, CASH 42nd Annual Conference on School Facilities will now be held June 28-30 in Palm Springs, California. With the ever-changing conditions around the COVID-19 pandemic, and hopefully with conditions moving in a more positive direction with vaccines and infection rates, I, along with leadership and staff, are looking forward to hosting this in-person event.

In particular, this conference will be focused on a time of transition in the school facilities community, and what it means for your ability to provide every student and teacher with safe, clean and quality learning spaces. The program will include a variety of education sessions for facilities practitioners in all aspects of school facilities planning, financing, maintenance and construction, and for all experience levels. It will also include safe and fun events like the networking dinner, trade show and Maintenance Network reception and vendor show.

The Board of Directors and Annual Conference Planning Committee will keep you apprised of information around the conference as we move closer to our dates.