In 2018, Breakthrough Schools was awarded a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The Charter Schools Program (CSP) Dissemination grants are intended to spread best practices in the areas of authorizing and facilities. Breakthrough was one of eight grantees and one of only four in the facilities arena, as well as the only network of schools to receive funding.
Below is just a small sample of the great work we were able to accomplish as a result of the US Department of Education’s Facilities Research and Dissemination Grant (2019-2022). For more information on these or any other facilities-related topics, please contact Breakthrough’s Director of Facilities Juan Lugo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of our first initiatives after being awarded the Facilities Dissemination Grant was a comprehensive analysis of our entire fleet of HVAC equipment. In 2019, we launched an RFP for a thorough assessment of our heating and cooling systems. We provided the selected vendor with a complete inventory list, and from there they examined each item in detail and classified each piece of equipment as either red, yellow or green. “Red” indicated an estimated lifespan of six months or less; “yellow” indicated an estimated lifespan of 6 months to three years; and “green” indicated an estimated lifespan of greater than three years (assuming proper maintenance). Over 500 pieces of equipment were evaluated, and the data was used to inform our 1-5+ year capital budgets.
One of the most unique things about the Breakthrough Schools is that they were founded in 2011 by three different single-school entities, with very unique educational models and philosophies. Over time, the Facilities Team began working toward standard operating methods that would increase operating efficiency without taking away from the identity and culture of the individual schools. When we received the dissemination grant in 2019, we were able to launch a process to document, review, and share out a comprehensive set of more than 30 building operating standards, that would be applicable to any Breakthrough school at any time. Several example standards can be found below.
In May 2022, we hosted a training and team building session for our third party custodial crew. Because we outsource cleaning, the staff have often expressed feeling disconnected or excluded from the rest of the school despite the critical front-line role they play. The purpose of the training was to give staff an opportunity to feel seen and heard, as well as to share best practices and process improvements for cleaning and sanitizing school buildings. Linked below are the materials from the 5/13/22 presentation.
As a result of Covid-19, Breakthrough Schools spent the entire 2020-2021 school year in a virtual environment. There was great anxiety and uncertainty as we prepared to re-enter facilities in August 2021, while we were still living through a global pandemic. As part of our preparation to return to in-person school, we partnered with industry experts to focus on air and water quality analyses that ultimately led to changes in the way we approach filtration and circulation. Several resources are linked below that explain the outcome in greater detail.
We expanded upon the success of our 2019 HVAC assessment, and in 2022 hired an expert in the architectural/engineering space to conduct an analysis of all building components and systems. We received a detailed report for the five Breakthrough-owned buildings and will continue to use their findings to inform our budget process and allocation of resources. A sample assessment is linked below.