K-12 Schools Get a “D” for “Disrepair”

February 4, 2011

By Ray Dufresne

Are the key players in your local school district working to fund repairs to its school buildings?

They should be; but nationally, America’s K-12 school buildings are in dire need of repair and retrofit. This is coming into sharp focus this week with the reports of school building roof collapses as a result of the recent storms across the country.

A 2009 report from the American Society of Civil Engineers graded school buildings in the U.S. at a “D” level, while the National Education Association’s best estimate to bring the nation’s schools into good repair is $322 billion. The problem is (and has been) that most school districts don’t have that kind of money.

To help fund repairs, some K-12 school districts are making a bigger effort to track building repair costs and obtain reliable information about their infrastructure. One way to do this is to use a metric like the Facility Condition Index (FCI), which measures repair costs compared to the structure’s total replacement value. By demonstrating an in-depth understanding of current school facility conditions, school districts can create convincing arguments for additional funding.

Collectively, America’s K-12 school buildings are in worse condition than those of any other building sector in the country. It’s time to start asking who is responsible for funding the necessary repairs, and find out what they are doing right now to make these repairs a reality.

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