ERIC Identifier: ED301967
Publication Date: 1988-00-00
Author: Klauke, Amy
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management Eugene OR.
Repairing and Renovating Aging School Facilities. ERIC Digest Series Number EA28.
Along with roads and highways, schools are one of the United States' largest infrastructure investments. The nations' 80,000 schools suffer under a $25 billion backlog of repair and would cost nearly $240 billion to replace. To exacerbate the situation, recent influxes of baby boomers coupled with state reforms reducing student-teacher ratios are stretching the limits on available school facilities across the country.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATUS OF AGING SCHOOL BUILDINGS?
A Council of Great City Schools' report (1985) warns that "without a massive injection of capital improvements, schools in urban districts will continue to deteriorate." One-third of urban schools are more than fifty years old. Where the need increases, the resources dwindle.
WHAT ARE THE FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS OF RESTORING SCHOOL FACILITIES?
Montague refers to a 1983 study showing a 20 percent dip over ten years in the approval rate for bonds, which are the most common source of funds for school maintenance projects. To make matters worse, construction costs have risen faster than the general inflation rate, and, as Montague says, "construction needs must compete for funding with such other reforms as higher teacher salaries."
Most school districts follow a deferred maintenance schedule that often endlessly postpones restoration work. Safety items, however, remain the exception, usually cutting into the established maintenance budget. For instance, asbestos replacement and removal eats up nearly 20 percent of the repair budget in Los Angeles schools. Recent, stricter regulations from the EPA will only increase such percentages.
WHAT ROLE SHOULD STATES PLAY?
WHAT METHODS ARE SCHOOL DISTRICTS USING TO IMPROVE THE SOLUTION?
As a method to raise funds for school construction, a 1986 California law authorizes school districts to collect revenue from developers of construction projects within the districts' boundaries. Many districts are also establishing detailed databases that list project costs and priorities. Considering restoration projects as planned maintenance and energy management, rather than deferred maintenance, has lent greater credibility and clarity to restoration programs.
Another funding solution is to lease out available space for government or private use. Ted Schwinden (1986) recommends offering space for quality child-care services, currently in high demand. "Schools used for the benefit of the community," he says, "are less prone to vandalism." Also, when people come into the schools for recreational or other activities, they better understand the need for renovation and are more likely to support school bond issues.
WHAT IS A CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN?
WHAT ARE SOME ELEMENTS TO CONSIDER WHEN REPAIRING OR RENOVATING SCHOOL FACILITIES?
Both Public Law 94-142 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require that school facilities be made accessible for handicapped children. Renovation should also ensure that facilities are brought up to safety standards.
Energy-conservation should be a major consideration in any renovation process. The Topeka School District has designed a computer program that analyzes energy consumption, helping them cut annual energy costs by 20 percent in one building. Insulation, energy-efficient windows, solar heating, and temperature control are effective energy saving measures. Ted Clark (1984) urges "that all capital improvements, from major maintenance to new construction, contain as much 'state of the art' conservation techniques as money will allow."
Contemporary school design includes features such as movable walls, builtin computer wiring, and ventilation systems that can be altered when rooms are rearranged.
Studies into theories of humanistic architecture, as well as solicitations of suggestions from school members, may offer ways to transform sterile, alienating spaces into rooms agreeable both to students and staff. (In one case, a school district invited students and community members to repaint an old gymnasium.) Broad ownership in the redesign and restoration of a school facility can encourage collective responsibility toward a building and thus prepare for its future preservation.
Clark, Ted. "Monitoring and Conserving Energy Usage in Existing Educational Buildings." CEFP JOURNAL 22, 3 (May-June 1984): 21-22. EJ 299 533.
Council of Great City Schools. OVERALL EVALUATION OF THE EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM. Washington, DC: CGCS, December 1985.
Ducote, Kenneth J. "Capital Improvements Programming: A Proposal for a Revised Process to Develop the Annual Capital Budget for the Orleans Parish School Board. Revised." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for Educational Planning, New Orleans, October 17-19, 1984. 25 pages. ED 254 934.
Montague, William. "Districts Scramble to Cope with Building Needs." EDUCATION WEEK 6, 36 (June 3, 1987): 1, 19, 20.
National Governors' Association. THE GOVERNORS' 1991 REPORT ON EDUCATION. RESULTS IN EDUCATION: 1988. Washington, DC: NGA, 1988. 78 pages.
Schwinden, Ted. "What Are Schools For?" PHI DELTA KAPPAN 68, 4 (November 1986): 223-24. EJ 343 778.
Smith, Tom E.C. "Opening Doors." AMERICAN SCHOOL AND UNIVERSITY 56, 6 (February 1984): 64, 66. EJ 294 864.
Stephens, Gail. "Local Tradespeople Bailed Us out of a Facilities Debacle." THE EXECUTIVE EDUCATOR 7, 3 (March 1985): 20, 35. EJ 313 692.
Werner, Thomas. "Things Fall Apart." AMERICAN SCHOOL AND UNIVERSITY 56, 6 (February 1984): 54, 56, 58, 63. EJ 294 863.