An article by Randall Fielding for School Business Affairs Magazine
School districts across North America are facing a crushing dilemma: invest millions of dollars to maintain outdated, educationally ineffective buildings or seek funding for expensive renovations, additions, and new construction to meet the evolving needs of today’s learners. Compounding the issue is deferred facility maintenance. According to data collected for American School & University’s 38th annual Maintenance and Operations Cost Study, expenditures for upkeep in American public schools declined from 11.31% in 1990 to 7.43% in 2003. Yet school buildings and their systems continue to age, putting more financial pressure on districts whose students are not being well served.
Educational spaces whose designs are based on research in effective learning, where multiple modalities and individualized learning are accommodated, aren’t as expensive as you might think. At the most basic level, using a portion of the funds allocated to maintenance
for modest renovations leads to leaner, safer, more effective school facilities. But to accomplish this objective, our preconceptions about what a school should look like must be challenged, and that can be diffi cult. School buildings, and particularly classrooms, have moved beyond being simple spaces; they are now iconic. The idea of changing their fundamental structure seems too radical to consider. But it shouldn’t be.
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