Cheat Sheet 2016
- By Mary Filardo
- January 1st, 2017
As the new administration proposes a major infrastructure bill,
it is critical that our public education
infrastructure is understood as core to
the short, medium and long term health and
growth of this nation. The scale of the public
school buildings and grounds which make up
our PK-12 public education infrastructure can
be obscured by their local nature. So to help inform federal policy
and planning, I have provided a primer of PK-12 public education
infrastructure facts from the State of our Schools 2016.
- Nearly 100,000 PK-12 public schools and support-facilities constitute
about 7.5 billion gross square feet of built space — and
PK-12 public school grounds constitute about 2 million acres of
land, including for athletics, school yards, parking and improved
and unimproved outdoor areas and building footprints.
- From fiscal years 1994-2013 with almost no federal assistance,
local school districts and states spent an average of $49 billion
per year on school construction capital outlay — including hard
and soft costs, but excluding land and existing structures. At this
level of spending, PK-12 public school capital outlay is the second
largest state and local capital sector, second only to highways.
- The nation’s public school facilities 2014 replacement value is
about $2 trillion, based on 7.5 billion gross square feet of space
and a national average hard and soft cost for construction in
2014 of $256 per gross square foot.
- The modern standard for responsible stewardship of this 7.5 billion
gross square feet of space is annual spending of 4 percent of
current replacement value, made up of 2 percent for capital renewals,
1 percent to decrease the backlog of accumulated deferred
maintenance and repairs, and 1 percent for building and grounds
modifications to meet educational program requirements.
- PK-12 public school enrollment is projected to increase by 3.1 million
students from 2014-2024, and $10 billion is estimated to be needed
to provide for new school construction for 80 percent of this growth.
- If the nation spent to the modern standard for capital outlay and
provided for 80 percent of the growth with new construction,
then it would spend $87 billion per year on school construction
capital outlay, rather than only $49 billion per year —
a $38-billion per year increase from the 20-year average.
Any federal public infrastructure bill should help close this
$38-billion annual capital outlay gap. Not only will this improve
the health, safety and education of children in public schools, but it
will help revitalize neighborhoods and support as many as 675,000
new good American jobs.2
1 Filardo, Mary (2016). State of our Schools 2016: America’s K-12 Facilities,
Washington, D.C. 21st Century School Fund; data sources: US Census of
Governments data from forms F-33 and F-13, Dodge Analytics project
data, state facilities directors.
2 A Public Investment Agenda that delivers
the goods for American workers needs to be long-lived, broad, and subject
to democratic oversight; Josh Bivens and Hunter Blair, December 8,
2016, Economic Policy Institute, Washington, DC.
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.