Editor's Note (The View From Here)
Seems Like a Smart Investment
- By Jerry Enderle
- February 1st, 2018
As we were putting together our February feature on current education facility construction figures, I noticed that nearly all of the respondents were disappointed in the amount of funding they receive. That is not news. Even in the best of financial times it was a legitimate complaint. School facilities are never at the top of the federal priority list when it comes to funding. Heck, they are almost never at the top of the local lists.
But, I thought, why not, as a part of this feature, publish a list of resources that would assist those searching for grants for school construction and/or maintenance? I didn’t, because I couldn’t. On a national level there are none, or at least none that I could find. And, this isn’t a recent development.
I contacted the magazine’s retired Industry Analyst, Paul Abramson, to see if he could steer me in the right direction. His answer was, “Federal dollars have never, at least in the past 70 years, played a significant role in school construction.”
Okay, what about other philanthropic individuals or agencies?
I reached out to Mary Filardo, the executive director of the 21st Century School Fund, to see if she was aware of anything that would be helpful. She reiterated that there are no national school construction grants, and she isn’t aware of any foundations that have funding available. But, she indicated, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Her organization, and five other nonpartisan organizations have formed The [Re]Build America’s School Infrastructure Coalition (BASIC), which is pushing for $100 billion of federal investment over the next 10 years to help modernize the nation’s aging public school facilities. In addition, more than 150 House members support a bill introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), and 25 Senators have expressed support for a similar bill from Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI). Both bills would provide $100 billion in federal grants and school construction bonds and would create an estimated 1.8 million construction jobs nationwide. To find out more details, visit www.buildusschools.org.
With our nation’s schools needing at least $38 billion to bring them to just average condition, let’s hope that gets some traction.
Also, a reminder, if you would like to follow me on Twitter, my handle is Jerry Enderle @SPM_editor. You are always welcome to contact me with your thoughts and ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of School Planning & Management.