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Feature Article - June 2018

Schools & School Districts

A Look at Trends in Schools & School Districts



As with colleges and universities, local schools and school districts also continue to suffer from the impact of budget cuts made during the recession. According to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities called "A Punishing Decade for School Funding," 29 states were still providing less total school funding per student in 2015 than they were in 2008.

The authors write, "In most states, school funding has gradually improved since 2015, but some states that cut very deeply after the recession hit are still providing much less support. As of the current 2017-18 school year, at least 12 states have cut 'general' or 'formula' funding—the primary form of state support for elementary and secondary schools by 7 percent or more per student over the last decade."

Respondents to the Industry Report who represented schools and school districts, making up 12.7 percent of all respondents, reflected these challenges, continuing to struggle with budgets and maintenance.

Nearly half (49.7 percent) of school respondents are from the Midwest. They were followed, distantly, by respondents in the Northeast (16.1 percent) and the West (14.6 percent). Around one in 10 school respondents are located in the South Central region (10.5 percent) and in the South Atlantic states (9.5 percent).

School respondents are much more likely to be located in rural areas than in any other type of community. Some 59.3 percent of school respondents said they are in rural communities, compared with just 32.3 percent of non-school respondents. Another 30.2 percent of school respondents are from suburban areas, and 10.6 are from urban communities.

On average, school respondents said they serve a population of 24,490 people, the smallest population size of any subcategory in the survey. Some 81.5 percent of school respondents said that they reach a population of 20,000 or fewer people, compared with 43.3 percent of non-school respondents. Conversely, while 19.7 percent of non-school respondents reach a population of 100,000 or more, just 5.5 percent of school respondents reach a population of that size.

The vast majority of schools covered by the survey are public. Some 92 percent of school respondents said they are with public schools. Another 3.5 percent are with private nonprofits, and 1 percent said they are with for-profit organizations. Another 3.5 percent said that they are with "other" types of organizations.

On average, school respondents said they manage 8.2 facilities. More than half (51.5 percent) of school respondents said they manage between one and three facilities, while another 19.5 percent manage 10 or more facilities. That leaves 29 percent in the middle, managing between four and nine facilities.

School respondents were slightly less likely than non-school respondents to report that they have partnered with outside organizations. Some 86.2 percent of school respondents said they have formed such partnerships, compared with 86.7 percent of non-school respondents. The most common partners for school respondents are: local schools (62.2 percent of school respondents said they have partnered with other local schools); local government (53.1 percent); state government (48.5 percent); federal government (33.7 percent); and nonprofit organizations (24 percent).

School respondents were much more likely than non-school respondents to report that the primary audience served by their facilities is made up of teenagers. Some 54 percent of school respondents said this is their primary audience, compared with just 4.2 percent of non-school respondents. Another 29 percent of school respondents said they serve an all-ages audiences, while 11.5 percent said children ages 4 to 12 are their main audience, 4.5 percent said adults are their main audience, and 1 percent said college students are their main audience.

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