Ups and Downs

There are ups – and there are downs. Ten years ago, I was happy to report that school construction increased 16 percent over the year prior. This year, the figures are not nearly as positive. According to the School Planning & Management 15th Annual School Construction Report, school construction in 2009 fell 16 percent from one year ago, to just $16.4 billion, the lowest annual total for school construction since 1998. A majority of the construction complete in 2009, almost 73-percent, was for new buildings — which makes sense since construction on them was started before the economy went into recession mode (you can find the complete Construction Report with national and regional data on our Website). Despite the dismal findings of this year’s report, education and healthcare are still the strongest industries out there. With education being a priority of the President, the politicians and the public — when the economy turns, I am sure that investments in education will lead the way.

To be sure that we are ready to build the safest and best schools possible when the funds are available, you may notice some changes to the magazine. First, is the addition of a new column by Mike Halligan on fire safety. Mike is the associate director of Environmental Health and Safety at the University of Utah and is responsible for Fire Prevention and Special Events Life Safety. In Mike’s column, you can look forward to hearing about performance-based code solutions for school building projects, as well as other important aspects of fire safety. You can read Mike’s first column on page 12 in this issue.

You may also notice that we have given the magazine a facelift — making it easier for you to find the information that you want and need. The same is true of our Websites. Over the years, we have developed a number of Websites to house our research and article archive; a comprehensive buyers’ guide for education; our Education Design Showcase, a database containing hundreds of school projects. All of these sites are now linked through one portal — While the economy is making things a little harder for all of us, we hope to make things a little easier for you!