School Buildings Suffering Without Proper Funds
February 10, 2009
By Mark Bishop, Deputy Director
The American Society of Civil Engineers just released their periodic report on the nation’s infrastructure and it’s not a pretty picture. They scored our overall infrastructure a “D,” and schools were right in line, getting a “D” too – no change from their 2005 report:
Spending on the nation's schools grew from $17 billion in 1998 to a peak of $29 billion in 2004. However, by 2007 spending fell to $20.28 billion. No comprehensive, authoritative nationwide data on the condition of America's school buildings has been collected in a decade. The National Education Association's best estimate to bring the nation's schools into good repair is $322 billion.
This is consistent with what we, at HSC, are hearing and seeing.
While we were initially encouraged that the federal stimulus bill included funding for school repair and modernization, we’re now concerned that this funding has been eliminated from the Senate version of the stimulus bill.
Now, Senators and Representatives tasked with developing a compromise between the Senate and House versions of the bill will have the opportunity to restore the school funding that the Senate version eliminated. You can help by sending a letter to let our elected leaders know that funding to repair our ailing school infrastructure is a vital part of the economic stimulus plan.
Still, we need a comprehensive and long-term approach to maintaining our existing school infrastructure. The stimulus bill can be an important step, but it’s only getting us to the starting line, not carrying us through the finish.
Some schools are already setting an example for the rest of the nation. Click here to read about the Tarkington School of Excellence, the first LEED-built green school in Chicago, where good air quality, natural lighting and rooftop gardens are an everyday reality.