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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.

Revenues & Expenditures

Not only do schools continue to be among the least likely to report that revenues are increasing, the percentage of school respondents who reported increasing revenue fell from 2016 to 2017. From 2015 to 2016, 21 percent of school respondents said their revenues increased, and 16.8 percent saw a decrease. From 2016 to 2017, only 16.3 percent of school respondents reported an increase, while 11.6 percent reported a decrease. (See Figure 50.)


Looking forward, the numbers don't change much, with 18.9 percent of school respondents projecting an increase in 2018, and 18.6 percent projecting an increase in 2019, while around 12 percent expect decreases in both of those years.

While most respondents saw their operating expenses fall by 11.9 percent from 2016 to 2017, school respondents reported an increase of 9.2 percent, from an average of $1,548,000 in 2016 to $1,690,000 in 2017.

Looking forward, school respondents expect their operating expenses to grow at a slightly slower rate than the average respondents. Schools projected a 5.9 percent increase between 2017 and 2019, from $1,690,000 to $1,790,000, while all respondents are expecting a 6.7 percent increase in that same time frame.

School respondents report that they recover an average of 34.1 percent of their operating costs via revenue. This is down slightly from 2017, when they recovered 35.4 percent. Some 44.6 percent of school respondents said they recover 30 percent or less of their operating costs via revenues. Another 8.7 percent recover between 31 percent and 50 percent of their costs, and 8.7 percent recover between 51 percent and 70 percent of their operating cost via revenue. Some 14.4 percent of school respondents said they recover at least 71 percent of their operating costs via revenues.

School respondents were less likely than non-school respondents to report that they have taken actions to reduce their operating costs, though a majority have done so. While 81.7 percent of non-school respondents said they have taken such action, just 72 percent of school respondents have done so, down from 77 percent in 2017. The most common measures employed by school respondents to reduce their operating costs include: improving energy efficiency (48.2 percent); putting construction or renovation plans on hold (22.8 percent); reducing staff (20.7 percent); increasing fees (16.1 percent); and cutting programs or services (14.5 percent).

School Facilities

As is generally the case, school respondents were among those most likely to report stable numbers of people using their facilities over time. From 2016 to 2017, 58.5 percent said the number of people using their facilities had stayed the same, while 32.8 percent reported an increase and 8.7 percent reported a decrease. (See Figure 51). Looking forward, this trend holds fairly steady, with 60 percent projecting no change in 2018 and 63.3 percent expecting no change in 2019.


While school respondents were less likely than others to report that they have plans for construction, the number did increase from 55.2 percent in 2017 to 59.5 percent in 2017. This compares with 71 percent of non-school respondents who have plans to build in 2018. School respondents in 2018 are most likely to be planning renovations, with 40 percent indicating they have such plans. Another 21.5 percent plan to make renovations to their existing facilities, and 20 percent are planning to build new facilities. (See Figure 52.)


School respondents' average construction budget increased 18.1 percent from 2017 to 2018, rising from $5,385,000 to $6,360,000. This is 48.3 percent higher than the average amount budgeted for construction among all respondents.

The features currently included among school respondents' facilities remained relatively consistent from 2017 to 2018, with position changes, but the same top 10 features. The 10 most common features currently found among school respondents' facilities include: locker rooms, indoor courts for sports like basketball and volleyball, bleachers and seating, concessions, natural turf sports fields, classrooms and meeting rooms, outdoor tracks, outdoor courts for sports like tennis and basketball, fitness centers and playgrounds.

Schools were much less likely than non-schools to report that they have plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years. While 45.8 percent of non-school respondents said they have such plans, just a quarter (25 percent) of school respondents said they will be adding features at their facilities. This is down from 2017, when 30.8 percent of schools had such plans.

The 10 most commonly planned features include:

  1. Synthetic turf sports fields (36 percent of schools with plans to add features)
  2. Bleachers and seating (32 percent)
  3. Fitness centers (26 percent)
  4. Concessions (20 percent)
  5. Indoor sports courts (18 percent)
  6. Classrooms and meeting rooms (18 percent)
  7. Locker rooms (18 percent)
  8. Playgrounds (12 percent)
  9. Exercise studios (12 percent)
  10. Climbing walls (12 percent)

More school respondents in 2018 than in 2017 are planning to add: synthetic turf sports fields (up from 34 percent); bleachers and seating (up from 20.8 percent); and fitness centers (up from 11.3 percent). Concessions, indoor sports courts, classrooms and meeting rooms, locker rooms, exercise studios and climbing walls did not appear among the top 10 planned features in 2017. They replace outdoor tracks, outdoor courts, walking and hiking trails, restroom structures, fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment, and park shelters.

Programming

The vast majority of school respondents (97.4 percent) said they offer programs of some kind at their facilities. This compares with 97 percent of non-school respondents. The most common program offered by school respondents is youth sports teams, found among 81.6 percent, down slightly from 82.1 percent in 2017.

Other programs commonly found among school respondents' facilities include: educational programs (69.9 percent), sports tournaments and races (50.5 percent), fitness programs (48.5 percent), individual sports activities such as running clubs (41.3 percent), performing arts programs (34.7 percent), sport-specific training (33.2 percent), holiday events and other special events (31.1 percent), arts and crafts (30.1 percent), and swimming programs (30.1 percent).

Programs that saw growth from 2017 to 2018 include: educational programs (up from 67.3 percent); sports tournaments and races (up from 46.4 percent), individual sports activities (up from 31.5 percent), and performing arts (up from 34.5 percent). Sport-specific training was not among the top programs offered by schools in 2017. It replaces day camps and summer camps.

School respondents were much less likely than others to report that they have plans to add more programming at their facilities over the next few years. While 34.4 percent of non-school respondents said they have such plans, just 13.5 percent of school respondents were planning to add programs, down from 18.6 percent in 2017.

The top planned programs among school respondents include:

  1. Fitness programs (no change from 2017)
  2. Educational programs (no change)
  3. Sports tournaments and races (up from No. 10)
  4. Youth sports teams (no change)
  5. Adult sports teams (did not appear in 2017)
  6. Mind-body balance programs such as yoga (down from No. 5)
  7. Teen programming (did not appear in 2017)
  8. Individual sports activities such as running clubs (down from No. 6)
  9. Special needs programs (down from No. 8)
  10. Performing arts programs (did not appear in 2017)

Programs that dropped off the list of top planned programs from 2017 include: holiday events and other special events, day camps and summer camps, and arts and crafts.



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