One of America’s most pressing issues in recent decades has been the decline of the country’s infrastructure. The United States’ GPA from The 2013 Infrastructure Report Card was a dismal ‘D+’, and among the infrastructure sectors that ranked worst was public schools, which received a ‘D’. This poises the question: what is the state of America’s public schools?
To put it frankly, not good. Experts have estimated that an investment of at least $270 billion is needed to modernize and maintain America’s school facilities.
Almost half of America’s public school buildings were built to educate the baby boomer generation, and although public school enrollment is projected to gradually increase through 2019, the level of funding for state and local school construction continues to decline.
The lack of up-to-date and comprehensive national data has left us with little understanding of the true condition of our schools. In fact, before this year, the last comprehensive review of America’s public school infrastructure took place over a decade ago in 1994 (conducted by the U.S. Government Accounting Office).
That all changed back in March 2016 when a report report titled, The State of Our Schools: America’s K-12 Facilities Report, was released. The report was released by the Center for Green Schools at USGBC, The 21st Century School Fund and the National Council on School Facilities. The report demonstrated that our nation faces a projected annual shortfall of $46 billion in public school funding. In addition to shedding light on our nation’s poor public school infrastructure, the report also presents evidence that America’ public schools are falling short of health standards, including air quality and facility maintenance and cleanliness.
Studies referenced in report indicate that the quality of school facilities has a direct impact on student learning, staff well-being, and property values. These studies show that high-quality education facilities are conducive to improving student achievement, reducing truancy and suspensions, improving staff satisfaction and retention, and raising local property values. In situations of low-quality school facilities, there is a negative impact on student focus and learning, student and staff health, and even school finances.
The report goes on to explain that high-quality school facilities create an equitable learning environment for students, which is currently at an imbalance across communities of different income levels. According to the report, the allocation of national spending across communities has been severely disproportionate, where low-income communities are receiving significantly less funding than communities of higher income. The result of this disproportion is inequitable school facilities which ultimately leads to inequitable education.
In a study of more than 146,559 school facility improvement projects from 1994 – 2004, it was found that projects in high-wealth zip codes received more than three times the capital investment than projects in the lowest income zip codes.
Quality and equitable public education is at the foundation of America’s philosophy of equal opportunity. In order to create a healthy and equitable learning environment for all students, it is vitally important that a real conversation takes place regarding national funding for school facility improvements and safety and health standards.
The report calls for a generation of facilities change, which involves more frequent and comprehensive data, equitable capital allocation, new and improved health and safety standards, and collaboration between public and private entities to tackle the various infrastructural and maintenance issues facing our nation’s schools.
Schools are a major segment of our business at Silverback Supply. We understand the impact that a clean and healthy environment can have on student and faculty well-being. We work tirelessly with schools to provide them with quality and cost-effective solutions to their facilities needs through new technologies, environmentally friendly cleaners, microfiber programs, staff training, and much more.
All students should be able to learn in an environment that is clean, safe, and comfortable, and we urge you to share this report with anyone you know who is involved in your local public schools. We must all do our part
Click Here to read the full report.