Maintenance & Operations

An Endorsement

The National School Plant Management Association is moving forward with a plan to create a comprehensive national certification program for school plant managers across the country. Many state associations such as New Jersey, Arkansas, and Florida already have varied required training and certification programs that enhance their state’s education and school plant staff. Several states have a range of procedures and training but no compulsory certification program as a prerequisite for employment. The need exists to ensure all school plants administrators have a general knowledge of basic facility maintenance so they can appropriately lead a school division’s maintenance department.

school plant managerThere can be much said in support of a comprehensive national certification program that accents the knowledge and skills any school plant manager should need, regardless of where the facility they manage is located. A national and unified certification program should not replace what individual states have in place for their immediate needs for training and endorsements. A national program will offer additional opportunities and add credence to what the states and localities already provide. Once a national certification is attained, school facilities managers will have the opportunity to earn continuing education credits at the NSPMA annual conference. The annual conference will also offer the opportunity to collaborate with other facility managers across the country. Knowledge is power and education is essential to providing the necessary tools to have the most competent administrators handling the operations of school divisions around the country.

It is the mission of the National School Plant Management Association to work in collaboration with school divisions across the United States to promote efficient, adequate, and functional school buildings. Kim Keener, 2017-2018 National School Plant Management president states, “The National School Plant Management Association is committed to delivering a National Certification Program that is valuable to all members and key stakeholders to meet the professional and educational needs of directors, supervisors, and managers of buildings and grounds for school systems in the United States.” The NSPMA is currently forming a steering committee and hopes to release more information about the program at their February 2019 expo and trade show in Baton Rouge, La.

A set of measurable standards is being formulated and will be presented to the United States Department of Education for guidance and support. The NSPMA also plans to outreach to the United States Department of Defense. It is the intent to support military career switchers. Those that have attained the proven training and skills through their military service would be ideal candidates for this type of certification. Military service personnel could apply that experience to help them complete the certification if choosing to seek a second career in facility management in a school division. Some of the mechanical and work experiences will easily transition into a K-12 school facilities environment. Once the military service personnel achieve a national certification it will make them more viable and prepared to work in a school setting.

An added level of support, training, and service will promote years of future leadership in the school facilities realm. Mike Mertens, the assistant executive director of the Arkansas Association of Educational administrators states, “While a number of states have quality certification programs for school plant managers, a national training program developed by the NSPMA would build on those individual state efforts by enhancing professional development activities specifically designed for the maintenance and care of school buildings and grounds.” There is no better investment than our children and the environments in which they learn and play in.

This article originally appeared in the School Planning & Management April 2018 issue of Spaces4Learning.

About the Author

John A. Bailey, Ph.D. is the director of School Plants for Chesapeake Public Schools and a National School Plant Managers Association board member, representing Virginia, and a Virginia School Plant Managers Association board member, representing Region II, in Virginia.

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