Data analysis highlights status of K-12 facilities infrastructure
- America's 84,000 public school buildings are an average of 44 years old and haven't had a major renovation in 12 years, according to an Education Week analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education and a 2016 joint report from the 21st Century School Fund, the National Council on School Facilities, and the Center for Green Schools.
- Still, 76% of schools surveyed by the National Center for Education Statistics said their buildings were in "good" or "excellent" condition, though common features of buildings rated "fair" or "poor" included windows, plumbing/restrooms, air conditioning, heating, sidewalks, playgrounds/play areas, and roofs.
- Overall, spending on K-12 school facilities comprises 24% of state and local infrastructure spending, second to highways — though local communities reportedly shoulder a heavy burden at 45% of operating costs and 82% of capital costs.
Despite the stats presented, many schools and districts still face tight budgets when it comes to repairing and upgrading facilities. Digital transitions in particular have left schools needing to upgrade network infrastructure, and the changing needs of the job market have required many to rethink classroom design for new pedagogical models and remodel accordingly.
On the network front, schools and districts have been lucky to have the Federal Communication Commission's E-rate program to assist with funds. But it's worth noting that Chairman Ajit Pai has also been considered a critic of the program, which helps provide broadband services to schools at a more affordable rate. A report highlighting the program's success was reportedly withdrawn following his nomination to the position by President Donald Trump. Despite reportedly telling Congress he considers E-rate to be a program "worth fighting for," some advocates remain unconvinced and advise that schools and districts shouldn't take that funding for granted while it's still available.
As for other remodeling and renovation projects, ongoing budget cuts may present schools and districts with a scenario in which they find that they need to seek additional funding from businesses and organizations in the local community, as well as larger corporations, that may want their names attached to innovative projects or green building efforts.
- Education Week Data: U.S. School Buildings: Age, Condition, and Spending
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