Fewer public schools have plans for major renovations and repairs, report shows

Despite public schools getting older, a lower percentage need to invest in repairs, renovations and modernization to bring them up to par, according to a new report from the Institute of Education Sciences.

As of the 2012-13 academic year, the average age of schools was 19 years — a three-year increase from the 1998-99 academic year. But 23 percent fewer schools needed funding to keep their buildings in good condition. When repairs were necessary, the average cost of projects was approximately $1.4 million more than it was in 1998-99.

The condition of school buildings can have a variety of impacts.

“Research indicates that the environmental and physical condition of schools relates to teacher turnover, student performance and the individual health of those who are in school buildings on a daily basis,” IES said.

A lower percentage of schools are planning to proceed with any building improvements over the next two years. In fact, just 9 percent of public schools shared plans to add buildings or expansions in the next two years, compared to 20 percent of schools in 1998-99. This trend carried over into plans for major repairs, renovations or replacements, too, with 39 percent of schools planning major work in 2012-13, compared to 48 percent of schools in 1998-99.

The most pressing environmental concerns at schools have shifted over time as well. Specifically, in 1998-99, nearly 26 percent of public schools had unsatisfactory ratings for ventilation. As of 2012-13, unsatisfactory lighting became the top environmental concern.

Source: POLITICO, Aubree Eliza Weaver