School Costs: Did You Know...

School districts in the United States spent more than $14 billion ($14,123,865,000) on construction projects completed during the 2014 calendar year. Almost $7.8 billion of that was spent on new schools, accounting for 55 percent of the construction dollars.

The balance was split between additions to existing buildings (accounting for $3.2 billion) and the retrofitting and modernization of existing structures that accounted for $3.14 billion. The difference of spending for new buildings and existing ones was very close to the pattern of the previous year.

Looked at in terms of on-going educational construction, school districts in the United States appear to be involved in almost $40 billion worth of construction activity right now, and that is probably a low-ball estimate.

In 2014, the median elementary school in the United States cost $211.55 per square foot to build. Median spending was $43,693 per pupil and the median elementary school provided 188 square feet for each student. The median elementary school reported was designed for 624 students and encompasses 84,700 square feet at a total cost of $16,269,543.

The median cost of a middle school is $242.96 per square foot. Median spending per pupil was $43,635 and the median middle school provides 173.4 square feet per student. The median number of students in middle schools built in 2014 is 612 and the building size is 118,500 square feet. The cost is $26.5 million.

The median high school cost $45 million and provided 173,727 square feet. It was designed to accommodate 1,000 students. The median high school provides 180 square feet per student at $49,000 for each student. The cost per square foot was $235.29.

Source: School Planning & Management’s 20th Annual School Construction Report

This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of School Planning & Management.

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