The Buildings and Grounds Committee’s Role in a Leased or Rented Facility

Vol. 16 No. 6

trustees eletter vol16 no6 rent

The Buildings and Grounds Committee, charged with protecting the school’s campus and equipment, faces a complex situation if the school rents its space from a different owner or leases its site to another entity.

Any recommendations involving renovations, refurbishment, or expense must be approved by the property owner, lease committee, or other entity for which the bottom line may well outweigh the school’s best interests.

Your school’s strongest tools are a detailed, well-considered lease or rental agreement, coupled with consistent and friendly communication with the owner or entity. It is the School Head’s responsibility to ensure that both these elements are in place. The Head must work closely with your legal counsel to make sure that all aspects of the school’s tenancy are covered, from rent and insurance to responsibility for repairs and improvements.

To do its job well, the Buildings and Grounds Committee must have a clear understanding of all components of that agreement. For example, what if the committee determines the janitorial service the owner has hired for the building does not meet the school’s standards? Can your school opt out of paying for a portion of that firm’s services and hire its own janitors?

To keep the lines of communication open, the Buildings and Grounds Committee should hold regular, short meetings with the landlord or other leasing entity rather than just calling when a problem arises. These sessions provide an opportunity to discuss expectations and procedures, and get answers to questions from both sides. Keep in mind, however, that the committee makes recommendations to the School Head—it does not get involved with implementation or day-to-day operations.

Make sure those you deal with see your school in action—as an important part of the community rather than just a tenant. Include the owner or lease committee members in the annual tours of the facilities that the Buildings and Grounds Committee perform. Put them on your mailing list, and invite them to school performances and events. This goes a long way to help them understand your school’s culture and purpose.

See also Facilities Planning and Maintenance for Private-Independent Schools, available at the online ISM Bookstore.

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Business and Operations Vol. 14 No. 5 Facilities: More Than a Line Item
The Source for Business Managers Vol. 8 No. 9 How to Expand Without Expanding—One School's Solution to the Challenges of Space Restriction

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 41 No. 7 Facility Design and Strategic Planning
I&P Vol. 41 No. 15 Educational Specifications: The Foundation for the Facility of Your Dreams I&P Vol. 42 No. 8 Revisit Your School’s Campus Master Development Plan

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