School Infrastructure – What Is Happening to Our Buildings?

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September 29, 2016 by Good Teachers Work Hard

Educational infrastructure should include suitable places for our students to learn. However, many schools in the United States are severely lacking in safe, comfortable spaces. Examples of such infrastructure are:

            Lack of air conditioning

            Poor air quality

            Crumbling buildings

            Inadequate heating systems

            Lead paint

            Asbestos

            Faulty pipes

            Utilizing closets as classrooms

According to a June 2015 article in U.S. News & World Report, buildings in many low-income areas lack basic infrastructure necessities like air conditioning. Since schools are partially financed by their local tax base, low-income areas have less wealth to tax. Additionally, these same schools often receive less money from their respective states, since certain grants and other forms of funding are tied to school performance on standardized tests. School facilities have also not been examined by the Federal government since 1996 (that’s 20 years ago, folks!). At that time, the Government Accountability Office determined that schools requiring upgrades would need to spend approximately $1.7 million dollars to upgrade them to a “good overall condition” (notice the word ‘good’ – not ideal).  In today’s economy, that number increases to over $2.6 million dollars today. You can access the full GAO report here.

A quick internet search led me to hundreds of articles on school infrastructure. As you can see from the map, the schools are not geographically concentrated, not only in urban areas, and have a variety of issues. You can read more about these schools using the links below:

  1. Black mold in Lincoln, CA elementary school (October 2014)
  2. Mold in Madison, WI elementary school (September 2016)
  3. Mold, faulty plumbing, crumbling schools, rodent and cockroach infestations in various Detroit, MI schools (January 2016)
  4. Broken air conditioning in Tampa, FL elementary school (September 2016)
  5. More asbestos found after initial cleanup in Vineland, NJ high school (September 2016)
  6. Black mold found during construction of new elementary school in N. Enid, OK (June 2015)
  7. Termites, exposed electrical wiring, rotten ceiling beam, and no air conditioning in various Los Angeles, CA schools (March 2013)
  8. Montana legislature quashes school infrastructure program; school districts are on their own to fix heating/air conditioning issues, fund a ramp for differently-abled students leaky roofs, and broken sewage systems, one of which backs up during rain storms (May 2015)

united-states-map

Schools clearly require additional funding to make necessary repairs.  However, decreasing school budgets make this task almost impossible. What will happen to our schools in the next 10 – 20 years? As always, your comments on this (or any other educational topic) are welcome.

For more information:

U.S. News & World Report article from June 2015 on school infrastructure

 

 

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