Report Offers Tough Lessons in K-12 Maintenance

  July 6, 2016

By Dan Hounsell

The nation faces a projected annual shortfall of $46 billion in K-12 school funding, despite significant efforts on the part of local communities, according to The State of Our Schools: America’s K-12 Facilities report from the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, the 21st Century School Fund and the National Council on School Facilities.

The report features an in-depth, state-by-state analysis of investment in school infrastructure and focuses on 20 years of school facility investment nationwide, as well as funding needed moving forward to make up for annual investment shortfalls for essential repairs and upgrades. The report also proposes recommendations for investments, innovations and reforms to improve learning environments for children in all U.S. public schools.

The report compares historic spending levels to the investment that will be needed moving forward to maintain today’s school building inventory. Estimated facilities investment requirements are based on building industry best practice standards that are adapted to public school infrastructure. This comparison reveals a projected gap of $46 billion that we as a nation must overcome to provide healthy, safe, and adequate school facilities for our children. Only three states’ average spending levels meet or exceed the standards for investment: Texas, Florida and Georgia.

The analysis found that the federal government provides almost no capital construction funding for school facilities, and state support for school facilities varies widely. Local school districts bear the heaviest burden in making the investments needed to build and improve school facilities. When school districts cannot afford to make these significant investments, they are often forced to make more frequent building repairs from their operating funds — the same budget that pays for teacher salaries, instructional materials and general programming.

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This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell, editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions, dan.hounsell@tradepressmedia.com. Read more about deferred maintenance in K-12 schools here.


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