As public education continues to be a topic of much discussion at both the state and national level, it is imperative that school facilities stay "in the mix” in all conversations regarding improvements to education. It has been shown in countless studies the importance that good, well-maintained, and safe facilities play in the quality of a child’s education.

The Arkansas School Plant Management Association (ASPMA), in an effort to improve the professionalism of its members, developed and implemented a professional certification program starting in 2012. After consultation with the Arkansas Division of Academic Facilities and Transportation and reviewing similar certification programs in other states, a comprehensive program was developed to meet the needs of Arkansas school facility managers. In order to serve as the professional for their district in regards to the facilities in which the students learn, play, and dine, the facility manager should be certified in areas of health, safety, code compliance and cleanliness. The facility manager should also be knowledgeable in building systems, how those systems relate to each other to create the total building environment, and possess the skills necessary to properly manage the facilities.

School personnel, who have appropriate experience in facility management, receive satisfactory recommendations, and who complete the required coursework, are eligible for certification. Participating individuals will receive as a Certified Facilities Director (CFD) a final official certificate upon completion of the program.

The first certification classes were offered in April, 2012. Since then over 150 school plant managers representing over 100 districts and other education organizations have participated in the classes. It is anticipated that approximately twenty (20) Arkansas educators will be recognized at the ASPMA Annual Conference in October, 2013 as the first completers of the CFD certification program.

It is hoped that such documented participation in this program will be recognized throughout the state by superintendents, school boards, state education officials, and leaders in government as important factors in assessing the professional growth and expertise of individuals in key facility management positions in Arkansas.