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THE URGENT NATIONAL NEED
FOR SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION AND MODERNIZATION
September 6, 1999
Communities across the country are struggling to address critical
needs to build new schools and renovate existing ones. School construction and
modernization are necessary to address urgent safety and facility needs, to
accommodate rising student enrollments, to help reduce class sizes, and to make
sure schools are accessible to all students and well-equipped for the 21st century.
Americas Schools Are Wearing Out
In January of 1999, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released
an issue brief entitled How Old Are Americas Schools? NCES reported
The average public school in America is 42 years old, and school buildings
begin rapid deterioration after 40 years.
The oldest schools are also lagging behind other schools in the push
to connect to the Internet. While almost 60 percent of schools built since
1985 were connected to the Internet by 1995, only 42 percent of schools in
the oldest condition were connected to the Internet by the same year.
In 1995 and 1996, the General Accounting Office (GAO) released a series
of reports on the condition of American schools. [GAO Report Number HEHS-95-61
School Facilities: The Condition of Americas Schools] The GAO
According to GAO estimates, it would cost $112 billion to bring the nation's
schools into good overall condition.
The average cost of construction for new schools is $8 million for elementary
schools, and $16 million for high schools. [Council for Educational
Facility Planners International, 1997]
One-third of all public schools about 25,000 schools need
extensive repair or replacement. In addition, about 60 percent of all
schools (including some schools in generally adequate condition) report needing
at least one major building feature to be replaced or extensively repaired.
Over 28,000 schools have less-than-adequate heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning
systems; over 23,000 schools have less-than-adequate plumbing; and over 21,000
schools have less-than-adequate roofs.
Enrollments are Rising
On August 19, 1999, the President released the Department of Educations
report entitled The Baby Boom Echo: No End in Sight. The report,
which was based on NCES data, found that:
Total public and private school enrollment will reach a record 53.2 million
students this year. The 1996-97 school year was the first year that members
of Baby Boom Echo broke their parents record for school enrollment,
and they have continued to enroll in the record-breaking numbers every year
since then. In fact, it is expected that enrollment will continue to increase
Unlike the end of the baby boom of the 1950s and 1960s, we
will have no respite from the current enrollment boom, as births will begin
edging up from 4.1 million in 2008 to 4.5 million in 2018. The long-term
implications of this immense wave of young people going to school require
educators and community leaders to recognize that short-term solutionssymbolized
by the ever-present portable classrooms in countless school yardswill
not be sufficient for the task at hand.
At least 2,400 new public schools will be needed by 2003 to accommodate
rising enrollments and to relieve overcrowding, and thousands more will be
needed in following years. [NCES, 1999]
School Conditions Have an Impact on Student Achievement
A growing body of research has linked student achievement and behavior
to the physical building conditions and overcrowding. [Impact of Inadequate
School Facilities on Student Learning] For example:
A study of overcrowded schools in New York City found that students in
such schools scored significantly lower on both mathematics and reading exams
than did similar students in underutilized schools. In addition, students
and teachers in overcrowded schools agreed, when asked, that overcrowding
negatively effects both classroom activities and instructional techniques.
[Rivera-Batiz and Marti, 1995]
A study in the District of Columbia found that students in school buildings
that were in poor condition had achievement 11 percent below students in schools
in excellent condition and six percent below students in schools that
were in fair condition. [Edwards, 1991]
Another study of high schools in rural Virginia examined the relationship
between building condition and student achievement. The study found that
student scores on achievement tests were up to 5 percentile points lower in
buildings with lower quality ratings, after adjusting for socioeconomic status.
Lower achievement was associated with specific building condition factors
such as substandard science facilities, air conditioning, classroom furniture,
more graffiti, and noisy external environments. [Cash, 1993]
VIRGINIA NEEDS SCHOOL MODERNIZATION FUNDING
Enrollment in Virginia over the last decade increased 14.8%. From 1998 to
2008 projected state enrollment in elementary and secondary schools is expected
to increase by 62,000 students necessitating 2,480 additional classrooms.
U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics,
Common Core of Data Survey and Projections of Education Statistics to 2008.
Classroom calculation assumes 25 students per classroom.
Virginia reports a $6.3 billion unmet school modernization need. Commonwealth
of Virginia Department of Education 1995-96 School Facility Status Survey,
PRESIDENT CLINTON'S LABOR DAY COMMITMENT
TO INVEST IN SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION AND MODERNIZATION
September 6, 1999
Today too many of our schools are so old theyre falling
apart, or so over-crowded students are learning in trailers. Last fall, Congress
missed the opportunity to change that. This year, with 53 million children in
our schools, Congress must not miss that opportunity again.
-- President Clinton, State of the Union Address, 1999
TODAY, PRESIDENT CLINTON STRESSES THE IMPORTANCE OF INVESTING IN SCHOOL
CONSTRUCTION AND MODERNIZATION. Today, at Coleman Place Elementary School
in Norfolk, Virginia, President Clinton renews his commitment to addressing
the urgent need to invest in school construction and modernization. The President
tours the school and does some volunteer work to help repair the school. The
President also applauds the union workers around the country who have committed
to volunteering their time to help address the urgent need to build and repair
our schools. The President will highlight his School Modernization Bond proposal,
which provides $24.8 billion in tax credit bonds over two years to modernize
up to 6,000 schools. President Clintons proposal has an estimated cost
of $3.7 billion over five years, and is fully paid for in his budget.
REPUBLICAN PLAN WOULD SUPPORT THE MODERNIZATION OF ONLY ABOUT ONE-TENTH
AS MANY SCHOOLS AS THE PRESIDENTS PLAN. The President's targeted tax
cut would cover the interest on state and local efforts to build and modernize
6,000 public schools across the nation. The Republican alternative, part of
their tax bill, is inadequate to address the urgent needs for school construction
and modernization. The Republican plan provides marginal help to address the
needs of only 644 schools. In fact, it could cause delays in construction and
encourage risky investment of taxpayer funds. While the Republican tax bill
provides little for school construction that would potentially benefit millions
of children, it uses 25 times as much money to eliminate the estate tax
which is estimated to benefit 72,000 wealthy families by an average of $600,000
each in 2009.
REPUBLICAN TAX AND BUDGET PROPOSALS THREATEN EDUCATION PRIORITIES. President
Clinton will stress that the Republican tax cut would spend the entire non-Social
Security surplus and would lead to cuts of nearly 50 percent in domestic spending
by the end of the decade (assuming defense was funded at the level requested
by the President). These could lead to nearly 50 percent cuts in key initiatives
to keep schools safe and drug-free, help children learn to read, reduce class
size in the early grades, support after-school programs, and expand access to
college. The President will urge Congress to work with him to enact a responsible
budget that puts first things first, paying down the debt, strengthening and
modernizing Medicare and Social Security, and investing in key priorities like
NATIONALLY, THERE IS AN URGENT NEED FOR SCHOOL MODERNIZATION
One-Third of All Schools Need Extensive Repairs. One third of all
public schools about 25,000 schools need extensive repair or
Average School is 42 Years Old. The average public school in America
is 42 years old, and school buildings begin rapid deterioration after 40 years.
$112 Billion Needed Just for Repairs. $112 billion is needed just
to repair the existing schools across the nation.
School Enrollment Higher than Ever. On August 19th, the President released
the Baby Boom Echo report on rising school enrollment. A record 53.2 million
children are enrolled in elementary and secondary school today, and this number
will climb to 54.3 million by 2008.