With President-elect Donald Trump promising big infrastructure spending during his administration, school facilities leaders are calling for some of that potential windfall to go toward upgrading the nation’s school buildings.
The National Council on School facilities, which estimates that the nation’s districts need to spend about $77 billion annually to modernize school buildings, approved a resolution this month asking that federal infrastructure spending in the new administration include schools and grounds.
On the campaign trail, Trump said he planned to spend about $1 trillion on infrastructure, including on roads and bridges. But it’s still unclear how Trump’s infrastructure program would be paid for or whether there is enough support among Republicans and Democrats in Congress to make it a reality.
The council’s resolution was approved recently at the annual meeting of the group, which is made up of state school facilities managers and officers from 25 states.
Spending on the nation’s schools and grounds falls short by about $46 billion annually, according to a report released earlier this year by the 21st Century School Fund, which conducts research for the National Council on School Facilities, and the Center for Green Schools.
The resolution was one of several the group approved at its annual convening. Other resolutions called for more up-to-date and accurate data on how monies are spent on public school facilities, efforts to improve facilities planning on the federal, state, and local levels, and additional actions to address deficiencies that were highlighted in the 21st Century School Fund report.
Infrastructure spending in the Trump administration would help districts bridge the gulf between what they currently spend on school buildings and what they need to spend to upgrade buildings and make them safer and more conducive to learning, the group said.
“Any federal public infrastructure bill should help close this gap,” the group said in a statement. “Not only will doing so improve the health, safety and education of children in public schools, but it will support as many as 1.3 million good American jobs.”
Despite expensive building projects in some districts in recent years, many American school buildings are aging.
Problems with lead-tainted drinking water likely linked to old plumbing systems in some school districts, including in Newark, N.J., brought more attention this year to the state of school infrastructure.
Image source: 2016 State of Our Schools: America’s K-12 Facilities
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.