It is impossible to find anything in the media currently that isn’t a discussion of the upcoming presidential election. Whether it’s national, state or local elections, at the end of the day, when we think about our education system, the intersection of politics and education meets at funding. Many states have seen public school budgets decrease or stagnate for several years.
Let’s breakdown the budget shortfalls:
According to the 21st Century School Fund’s 2016 State of Schools: American’s K12 Facilities Report, the federal government contributes 10% to schools’ operating budgets; however, local contributions vary county-by-county, leading to funding discrepancies. A recent article from District Administration notes that to meet modern school standards, $8 billion over what is currently provided for schools’ operating budget is needed for maintenance and operations. Additionally, a whopping $38 billion over what is currently provided to schools’ capital budget is needed for construction and capital projects.
What do these budget gaps lead to? Deteriorating facilities and classrooms. The lead-tainted water in Flint, Michigan is one example that captured media attention. District Administration highlights additional schools that reported high lead levels in their buildings. Aging plumbing systems and crumbling infrastructure are a leading cause; however, with small operating budgets, schools can’t perform the preventive maintenance necessary on aging equipment AND with small capital budgets, schools can’t replace these systems either.
Lead poisoning can lead to antisocial behavior and other learning challenges, according to District Administration’s article. But it’s not just lead poisoning that affect student behavior and achievement. The Council of the Great City Schools 2014 report, Reversing the Cycle of Deterioration in the Nation’s Public School Buildings, found that run-down facilities are associated with:
- Poor behavior
- Truancy and higher rates of suspension
- Lower grades and test scores
- Decreases in student and faculty health
Luckily, there are solutions for school districts!
- Utilize robust facilities management standards and action plans
- Implement a preventive maintenance program to tackle deferred maintenance by extending the life of equipment and systems, resulting in less costly repairs, fewer replacements, and improved facilities.
What does this all get back to? The mission of most schools - Providing a safe, secure and healthy school environment to create the next leaders of America. Register for our upcoming webinar, Healthy and Safe Schools: Impact on the Learning Environment, presented by facilities management expert Jim Whittaker as he discusses how to address the challenge for facilities leaders to protect the school environment.