Construction Report Part of a Bigger Story

This month we are releasing the results of our 18th Annual School Construction Report. Over $12.9 billion worth of school construction was completed in 2012, with districts planning to start another $10.5 billion in 2013. In the past, the focus was on new school construction. This year you will see that nearly half of all monies spent are going toward additions and renovation projects. With cutbacks in spending and gridlock in Washington, schools, like everyone else, are focusing on making what they have work!
With the population growing and education delivery changing, we will continue to need new and upgraded spaces. We will also need to set aside dollars to maintain the new facilities that we build, otherwise our investments will be squandered as equipment fails, warranties are invalidated and our new buildings deteriorate. Then, there are all of those “other” buildings… the ones originally built in the 1920s, added on to in the ’50s, ’70s, ’90s and so on. The truth is that a majority of our schools in this country are approaching the half-century mark and are in major need of maintenance and repair!
According to a report prepared by the Council of the Great City Schools, 77 percent of major city school systems need funds for repairs, renovations, modernization and new construction to meet 21st century educational needs. The 50 major city school systems responding to the survey indicated a total facilities’ need of about $76.5 billion or approximately $8.9 million per school — $15.3 billion in new construction needs; $46.7 billion in repair, renovation and modernization needs; $14.4 billion in deferred maintenance needs. On the basis of enrollment and school-building data, the council projects that its 65-member urban school systems need approximately $20.1 billion in new construction, $61.4 billion in repair, renovation and modernization, and $19 billion in deferred maintenance — or some $100.5 billion in total facility needs.
A plan for maintenance and repair should be an integral part of every school budget, and must not be the item to be cut when money is tight. Not performing routine maintenance costs districts many times over. It’s not hard to get people excited about a new shiny building. But, it’s time we get excited about our ability to maintain the buildings we have — giving them new life, making them a better and safer place to learn.