The Association of School Business Officials International will soon hire a new “resident practitioner” to advise its members on indoor-air quality.
ASBO created the position after receiving a three-year, $740,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The business officials’ group, based in Reston, Va., plans to hire a person who is currently working in the school facilities field and has expertise in air quality to act as a peer educator. It aims to hire that person next spring.
The resident practitioner will provide information and resources to help school officials put in place the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommendations for achieving good indoor-air quality in schools. The EPA has instituted a program, IAQ “Tools for Schools,” that advises districts on how to build and maintain schools with healthy indoor air.
According to ASBO, maintenance delays and tight budgets are hurting the quality of air inside schools. Poor indoor-air quality can exacerbate health conditions, particularly asthma and allergies, causing teachers and students to be sick and thus contributing to lower academic achievement.
The EPA guidelines give school administrators and teachers a list of materials and activities that could improve indoor-air quality. The EPA also hosts an annual symposium in Washington on air quality in schools. A copy of the EPA guidelines can be found online.
More than 80 percent of the capital budgets for school districts is going for new buildings and additions, rather than for renovations, a national report says.
A financial analysis released last week by the New York City-based Standard & Poor’s says that rising enrollments, combined with budget constraints, have led many districts to build new schools and rather than invest in upgrading older buildings.
In the meantime, many districts are delaying modernization projects for older schools, according to the report, which is based on a survey of school spending.
The report foresees that school construction projects will continue at very strong levels, but it urges districts to modernize existing buildings, as projections show enrollment increases tapering off in the next decade. Copies of the report, which cost $400 each, can be ordered by email at research_request@ standardandpoors.com.