School Survey FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions for School Survey

Q: What is the School Survey?
A: The School Survey is a statewide assessment of the general facility conditions of all public elementary and secondary schools in the Commonwealth. The MSBA is sending design and engineering professionals to each school to evaluate several key factors including building conditions, general environment, capacity and maintenance. 
 
Q: Why is the School Survey important?
A: The MSBA’s enabling statute requires the MSBA to “perform or commission a needs survey to ascertain the capital construction, reconstruction, maintenance and other capital needs for schools in the commonwealth.” The School Survey is designed to help the MSBA understand how the needs of individual school districts fit within the statewide spectrum of need. The data collected during the School Survey is critical to the MSBA’s efforts to ensure fair and equitable funding of school construction, renovation, and repair projects across the Commonwealth.
 
Q: How many schools will be involved?
A: The MSBA is evaluating all public elementary, middle and high schools in the Commonwealth that may be eligible for a grant from the MSBA under Chapter 70B of the Massachusetts General Laws. Buildings will be evaluated regardless of whether or not the district has any plans for improvements or potential projects; however, we do anticipate that buildings currently slated for upgrades or recently constructed in partnership with the MSBA will not be assessed at this time.

Q: Who is conducting the on-site assessments?
A: The MSBA is working with STV Incorporated, a firm comprised of architects, engineers and building professionals who are experienced in the design, construction, and repair of educational facilities to conduct the on-site assessments. 

Q: What will I need to do to be prepared?
A: Superintendents should designate a point person on their staff to work with STV to coordinate scheduling, respond to questions and provide basic information. An e-mail and pre-site visit questionnaire will be sent to all superintendents prior to the kickoff of the school assessments which shall provide more detail for the upcoming assessments.   Approximately two weeks prior to a district being surveyed STV shall contact the Superintendent by phone to establish the point of contact for the District and STV and that person shall review the follow-up e-mail content, review all the questions on the questionnaire, discuss the schedule of school visits and answer any questions.

Q: Will I have to fill anything out for this?
A: No, however, as stated above, STV will send the Superintendent a pre-visit questionnaire. The questionnaire is a form comprised of information that the District must gather and have  available prior to the start of the assessment visit. The form addresses questions that an assessor would otherwise be unable to collect within a 2-3 hour timeframe, but is still valuable data for MSBA to obtain.

Q: What will the assessors be looking at?
A: The assessors will be gathering basic data and information about the school facility, including:

  • Gross Square Footage;
  • Age of building(s), additions, and renovations; 
  • Classroom usage and counts;
  • Core Facilities;
  • Routine and capital maintenance practices; and
  • Building condition of site and building systems, including: parking lots, walkways and drop areas, exterior walls, windows, HVAC, roofs, electrical, plumbing, interior floors, ceiling, and walls.
  • General environment including: Instructional Technology, Program Sufficiency, Academic Sufficiency, Security, and Universal Accessibility.

Q: How long will the process take overall?  How long will you be in my district or at my school?
A: It is anticipated that it will take approximately two weeks from the initial scheduling call to commencement of site visits. Each school site visit will last an average of 2 hours, although bigger schools such as large high schools and vocational-technical schools may last up to 4 hours. The time in the district is dependent on the number of schools in your district.

Q: What should I expect on the day of the school visit?
An assessor will arrive at the school and commence with a meeting with the principal to review school contact information and pre-site visit questionnaire information. Please plan to have a meeting space for approximately 4 to 6 people for this meeting. At the meeting, the assessors will also look to collect and review the current floor plan with the spaces designated as to their current use, e.g. general classroom, art, music, science, break-out space etc.  At the conclusion of the meeting the assessor will walkthrough the school observing all areas of the school.  During the school visit, either the school principal or someone with knowledge of the history and use of the building, as well as a member of the building’s facilities team should be available to accompany the assessor on the walkthrough.

Q: Will my schools receive a “score” based on this process?
A: Each school will receive a comparative rating that will help the MSBA understand where individual school buildings fit within the statewide spectrum of building conditions. The rating is only one component in the MSBA’s decision on whether to fund individual school construction and renovation projects and does not, by itself, provide the basis for funding eligibility.

Q: What will be the result of the School Survey? Will you issue a report?
A: The MSBA will analyze the data collected by the assessors and develop a comprehensive report that summarizes the findings of the School Survey. The report is tentatively scheduled to be released in the early summer of 2017.

Q: Is this School Survey different from previous Needs Surveys?
 A: The School Survey is a similar assessment that was conducted in 2005 and 2010 and was referred to as the Needs Survey.   Some of the questions have been updated to reflect changes over the last ten years; however, the objective remains the same to gather a statewide inventory of all public school facilities in Massachusetts.
 
Q: Is it the same as a Senior Study?
A: No. The School Survey is being conducted at all school facilities, not just those for which a Statement of Interest has been submitted to the MSBA. The goal of the School Survey is to assess the building conditions, general environment, capacity and maintenance at school facilities. Senior Studies and Facilities Assessments are more in-depth architectural and engineering studies of school facilities for which a district has submitted a Statement of Interest.

Q: Will the results of the School Survey impact a project I have already submitted a Statement of Interest for?
A: No. The School Survey is being conducted to help the MSBA establish the current general conditions of the Commonwealth’s public elementary and secondary schools. While the data collected will help the MSBA understand and prioritize needs in both the short and the long term, it will not change the overall review process for projects which have already submitted a Statement of Interest.

Q: What if I haven’t yet submitted a Statement of Interest; will the School Survey change that process?
A: No. The data collected during the School Survey is only one component in the MSBA’s decision on whether to fund individual school construction and renovation projects and does not, by itself, provide the basis for funding eligibility. Districts will still be required to submit a Statement of Interest in order for a school to be considered for funding under the MSBA’s grant program.
 
Q: Who can I contact for specific questions?
A: Should you have any questions about this initiative, please feel free to contact the MSBA by email at schoolsurvey2016@massschoolbuildings.org