Feature Article - June 2016
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Schools & School Districts

A Look at Trends in Schools & School Districts

By Enter Author Here

As with colleges and universities, local schools and school districts also are continuing to feel the effects of budget crunching—particularly cuts at the state level. State funding makes up more than 40 percent of school budgets, yet according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, most states are providing less support per student for elementary and secondary schools than before the recession. In 31 states, total state funding per student was lower in 2014 than in 2008. What's more, capital spending to help build new schools or renovate and expand facilities, as well as equipping schools with modern technologies, also fell sharply. Elementary and high schools nationally cut capital spending by $28 billion, or 37 percent, between fiscal years 2008 and 2013, after adjusting for inflation.

The information provided by the 10.5 percent of the Industry Report survey respondents who represent schools and school districts obviously reflects these ongoing budgetary challenges.

Nearly half (48.2 percent) of school respondents were from the Midwest, by far the largest region represented in this category. They were followed by the Northeast, where 18.6 percent of school respondents are located. Smaller numbers came from the West (13.2 percent), South Central region (12.7 percent) and South Atlantic states (6.8 percent). Another 0.5 percent of school respondents said they were from outside the United States.

Nearly half (49.8 percent) of school respondents said they were located in rural communities. Another 36.9 percent were in suburban areas, and 13.7 percent were in urban communities.

On average, school respondents said they serve a population of 18,900 people, by far the smallest population size of any subcategory in the survey. More than three-quarters (78.7 percent) of school respondents said they serve a population of 20,000 or fewer people, compared with 42.9 percent of non-school respondents. Conversely, only 2.7 percent of school respondents said they had a population of 100,000 or more, compared with 21.4 percent of non-school respondents.

The vast majority of school respondents are with public schools. Some 93.2 percent said they were with public organizations, while 6.8 percent were with private nonprofits.

On average, school respondents said they manage 6.4 facilities.

School respondents were more likely than non-school respondents to report that they had partnered with outside organizations. Some 90 percent of school respondents had formed such partnerships, compared with 86.9 percent of non-school respondents. The most common partners for school respondents were: local schools (67.6 percent of school respondents said they partnered with other local schools); local government (53 percent); state government (44.3 percent); federal government (23.7 percent); and nonprofit organizations (21.9 percent).

School respondents were much more likely than others to report that the primary audience served by their facilities was made up of teenagers ages 13 to 18. Some 57 percent of school respondents said teens were their primary audience, compared with 4.1 percent of non-school respondents. Another 23.5 percent of school respondents said they served an all-ages audience, while 13.1 percent named children ages 4 to 12 as their primary audience.

Revenues & Expenditures

Schools continue to be the least likely to report that their revenues are increasing, and while the percentage reporting a decrease in revenues has fallen slightly in the past several years, school respondents are still more likely than many other respondents to be reporting decreases in revenues. From 2014 to 2015, just 12.5 percent of school respondents said their revenues had increased, while 13.4 percent said revenues dropped in that time frame. (See Figure 50.)

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