The Scope & Scale of PK-12 Public School Facilities

U.S. PK-12 public school infrastructure is essential for our nation. Universal access to school facilities that are safe and sound and that advance the health and education of all children is a key factor in the overall economic and environmental health of our states and this country. The scope and scale of the nation’s PK-12 public education infrastructure is extensive. There are estimated to be nearly 7.5 billion gross square feet of space in our nation’s school district facilities and 2 million acres of land. The nation’s PK-12 public school buildings are valued at nearly 2 trillion dollars. The deferred investment in the upkeep of these facilities is estimated to be $271 billion, as a low estimate, but as high as $542 billion dollars nationally, or about $10,000 for each of the nation’s 50 million public school students, and about $5.4 million a school.

Providing school facilities in communities throughout the United States is a complex and costly enterprise. According to the 2016 State of Our Schools report, over the 20 years from fiscal year 1994 to fiscal year 2013, school districts and states spent an average annually of $46 billion on utilities, operations, maintenance, and repair from their operating budgets; an average of $12 billion  per year on interest on long term debt—mostly for school construction bonds; and about $50 billion per year for capital construction from their capital budgets for new construction, facilities alterations, system and component renewals, and reducing the accumulation of deferred maintenance.

 

However, using a standards based framework to project what our nation should be spending, there is an estimated annual gap in maintenance and operations spending of about $8 billion per year and a $38 billion annual short fall in capital construction.

Research the Conditions of Our Nation's School Infrastructure

The 2016 State of the Schools Report  provides a state and national analysis of 20 years of maintenance and operations spending and capital construction investments on our nation's public school facilities. Aditionally, an infographic  was created to visually present the nation's PK-12 school infrastructure conditions.

The 2013 Report Card on America's Infrastructure - Schools, prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers, gave our nation's school infrastructure a D grade. Learn why our school buildings scored so low.

Learn More about U.S. States Capital Outlay

State Capital Spending on PK-12 School Facilities, prepared by the 21st Century School Fund, examines each U.S. state's capital outlay from 2005-2008 for elementary and secondary public education facility construction and modernization.

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