Message from the Chair — Adjusting to the Times — Looking to the Future
As we approach the conclusion of a very challenging 2020, I want to reflect on CASH’s journey throughout this year, and also look to the future. COVID-19 has been a game changer for K-12 schools in California and across the nation. The public schools are this country’s essential nervous system with our students being the heart and soul of our nation. The central role of public education is vital in the economic, social and political prosperity and stability of our society. Schools as centers of community became more than a catch phrase in 2020, as local, state and national discussions focused on the possibility of reopening and operating in the COVID-19 environment. CASH focused on providing timely and accurate information on how to navigate the uncertain COVID-19 for the school facility and maintenance community, as well as the K-12 school community and public at large. School facilities and maintenance have become a primary focus this year as healthy learning environments were widely recognized as a key part of reopening and safely operating schools.
Looking Back: CASH 2020
Of necessity, CASH’s primary focus in 2020 was training and education related to preparing K-12 school facilities to reopen and operate in the COVID-19 environment. CASH has presented complimentary weekly webinars related to providing practical and timely information to our members, as well as holding a successful Virtual Fall Forum that dove deeper into these and other critical school facility and maintenance issues, and provided attendees with a much-needed opportunity to discuss issues of common concern. A highlight of CASH training and education in 2020 is the CASH Maintenance Network’s (CMN) Guide to Reopening and Operating Schools in the COVID-19 Environment, which is a resource manual focused on practical issues such as cleaning and disinfecting, student and staff safety, healthy indoor air quality, scheduling and social-distancing, and funding your program. This resource guide has become widely used in school maintenance and facility departments. CASH also pursued a full legislative agenda that included both a focus on issues related to COVID-19 and progress toward CASH objectives of long-term funding and policy objectives ensuring that all schools have access to a stable, secure and ongoing capital and maintenance funding. A highlight of CASH’s advocacy in an uncertain 2020 was the Legislature’s approval and the Governor’s signing of AB 841 (Ting), which provides critical grant funding to upgrade school HVAC and water systems, as well as promoting energy efficiency.
Looking Forward: CASH Annual Conference 2021
With the ever-changing conditions around the Covid-19 pandemic, leadership and staff are cautiously looking forward to the 42nd Annual Conference on School Facilities, March 1-3, 2021 in Palm Springs California. If not in March, certainly in the not so distant future, we will continue to serve our membership with this premier annual event in some form or fashion. In particular, this conference will be focused on a time of transition in the school facilities community, and what it means for your ability to provide every student and teacher with safe, clean and quality learning spaces. The program will include a variety of education sessions for facilities practitioners in all aspects of school facilities planning, financing, maintenance and construction, and for all experience levels. New this year: education session time blocks consisting solely of the popular Mini-Workshops (topic-focused education sessions, which debuted last year) on all three days of the Conference. The Board of Directors and Annual Conference Planning Committee will keep you apprised of information around the conference as we move into the new year and move closer to our dates.
~Julie Arthur, CASH Chair