Shared Services opportunities in facilities fall into two categories; joint use of space and facility operations. Joint use of space is constrained by geography and type of space, however, opportunities to collaborate and reduce costs for operations exist on a broader scale, even statewide. There are great examples of collaborative efforts to reduce costs through purchasing of utilities, supplies and maintenance services.
In this category, the survey indicated that the highest areas of participation are in the purchasing field, where banding together for contracts can yield lower prices. Purchasing of electricity (29 percent), natural gas (26 percent and maintenance supplies (23 percent) had the highest percentage reporting purchasing/receiving shared services in the facilities category.
Generally, school entities had a much higher level of participation as purchasers/receivers than non-school entities in this category. Examples are purchasing of electricity (48 percent vs. 14 percent, respectfully) and general security services (15 percent vs. 5 percent). However, schools were less likely to have shared services in custodial and maintenance staff and the reported participation in facility maintenance was about equal.
Many public entities have large spaces that are can be available for use by other public entities. This may include meeting spaces, auditoriums and athletic spaces. The survey indicated that local school districts most often provide use of such spaces to others, followed by JVSs, ESCs and park districts.
Co-location in one building is not a step that can be taken easily or quickly. However, when the time comes for public entities to build new facilities, or when significant downsizing occurs, good advance planning and cooperation can lead to higher service at lower cost for years to come. When planning capital improvements for facilities, local governments and schools should seek out and partners for sharing and consolidating space and operations.