New Report Urges Key Changes to School Infrastructure

March 12, 2013

Today, the Center for Green Schools at the United States Green Building Council released its 2013 State of Our Schools Report, urging some key and immediate actions to improve school facilities around the nation.

Every child has the right to safe, healthy school facilities that contribute to, rather than impede upon, their opportunities for a great education. But many people still do not understand the impact school facilities can have on learning, and the great and widespread need for improvements to said facilities. Today, the Center for Green Schools at the United States Green Building Council released its 2013 State of Our Schools Report, urging some key and immediate actions to improve school facilities around the nation, which now, per their calculations, face a $271 billion deferred maintenance bill just to bring schools to working order.

As former President Bill Clinton writes in the foreword to the report: “…in a country where public education is meant to serve as the “great equalizer” for all of its children, we are still struggling to provide equal opportunity when it comes to the upkeep, maintenance and modernization of our schools and classrooms.”

Recommendations from the report include :

  • Expand the Common Core of Data (a set of academic expectations collected annually by the National Center for Education Statistics that define the knowledge and skills all students should master by the end of each grade level) to include school level data on building age, building size and site size.
  • Improve the current fiscal reporting of school district facility maintenance and operations data to the National Center for Education Statistics so that utility and maintenance expenditures are collected separately.
  • Improve the collection of capital outlay data from school districts to include identification of the source of capital outlay funding and distinctions between capital outlay categories for new construction and for existing facilities.
  • Provide financial and technical assistance to states from the U.S. Department of Education to incorporate facility data in their state longitudinal education data systems.
  • Mandate a GAO facility condition survey take place every 10 years, with the next one beginning immediately.

In 2009, in partnership with Critical Exposure, HSC launched Through Your Lens, a collection of photos and stories showing the reality of our nation’s school buildings. The initiative began as a photo contest and developed into a community, and some of the photos depicting these stunning conditions provide the introduction to the report.

We applaud the work of the USGBC and the Center for Green Schools for addressing these important matters, and along with them, recognize there is much to be done.

Interested in learning more? Download the report at the Center for Green Schools website.