Trends in Schools & School Districts
A Look at Trends in Schools & School District
Here, we'll take a look at trends reported by respondents to the Industry Report Survey who represent schools and school districts—making up 10.5% of all respondents.
Nearly half (47.8%) of school respondents were from the Midwest, dwarfing the responses from other regions of the country. Some 15.4% were from the Northeast, 14.7% were from the South Central region, 13.2% were from the West, and 8.1% were from the South Atlantic states. Another 0.7% of school respondents were located outside the United States.
School respondents were far more likely to be located in rural areas than in urban or suburban areas. Well over half (56.9%) of school respondents said they were located in rural communities. This compares with 32.8% of non-school respondents. Another 32.1% of school respondents said they were from suburban communities, and 10.9% were from urban communities.
The vast majority of schools covered by the survey were public. Some 92.7% of school respondents said they were with public schools. Another 4.4% said they were with private nonprofit schools, and 2.9% were with private for-profit schools.
School respondents reached the smallest number of people, serving an average of 30,080 people, down from 36,160 in 2019. More than three-quarters (77.4%) of school respondents said they reach a population of 20,000 or fewer, compared with 39.9% of non-school respondents. On the other hand, just 5.1% of school respondents said they reach a population of 100,000 or more, compared with 25.9% of non-school respondents.
On average, school respondents said they manage 7.6 facilities, down from an average of 8.7 in 2019. Some 41.9% of school respondents said they manage between one and three facilities, and 40.4% manage between four and nine. Another 17.6% said they manage 10 or more different facilities.
School respondents were slightly less likely than non-school respondents to report that they have partnered with outside organizations. Some 86.8% of school respondents said they had formed such partnerships (up from 85.9% in 2019), compared with 89.2% of non-school respondents. The most common partners for school respondents were: other local schools (67.2% of school respondents said they had partnered with other schools); local government (57.7%); state government (46%); federal government (25.5%); and nonprofit organizations (24.8%).
School respondents were far more likely than non-school respondents to report that the primary audience their facilities reach was made up of teenagers. Some 51.8% of school respondents said teens are their primary audience, compared with just 3.1% of non-school respondents. Another 26.3% of school respondents said they primarily reach all ages, while 13.1% said their audience is primarily made up of children ages 4 to 12. Another 8% said adults are their main audience, and 0.7% said their primary audience is infants and toddlers.
Revenues & Expenditures
Schools have been among the least likely to report that their revenues are increasing year-over-year. However, according to this year's survey, nearly a quarter (24.4%) said their revenues were higher in 2019 than in 2018. This is up from just 13% who reported higher revenues in 2018. Another 63.4% said their revenues had been unchanged from 2018 to 2019. And 12.2% saw a decrease. (See Figure 50.)
When the original Industry Report Survey was taken in January 2020, slightly more (28.7%) school respondents were anticipating a revenue increase in 2020, compared with 2019. Another 59.7% were expecting no change, and 11.6% were expecting a decrease.
The COVID-19 Update Survey taken in May delivered a much different result, though schools were somewhat less likely to report a heavy impact to their revenues than other respondents. One-quarter of school respondents in May said they expected revenues in 2020 to be either higher than (5%) or the same as (20%) revenues in 2019. Three-quarters (75%) now believe that their revenues in 2020 will be lower. Some 42.5% of school respondents said their revenues in 2020 would be 10 to 20% lower than 2019. Another 17.5% said revenues would be down by 30 to 40%, and 15% said revenues would fall by 50% or more.
From 2018 to 2019, the average operating expenditure reported by school respondents increased by 87%, from an average of $1,310,000 in 2018 to $2,450,000 in 2019.
Looking forward, in January, school respondents were expecting their average operating cost to grow by 4.5% from 2019 to 2020, to an average of $2,560,000. They further projected a 1.2% decrease from 2020 to 2021, to an average of $2,530,000.
School respondents report that they recover an average of 42.9% of their operating costs via revenue. This is up substantially from 2019, when school respondents recovered an average of 31.4% of their costs via revenues. Some 40.7% of school respondents in 2020 said they cover 30% or less of their operating costs with revenues. Another 10.4% said they earn back between 31 and 50% of their revenues, and 5.2% earn back 51 to 70%. Nearly one-quarter (24.4%) of school respondents said they recover 71% or more of their operating costs via revenues.
School respondents were less likely than non-school respondents to report that they had taken action to reduce their operation costs, though more than three-quarters (76.3%) had done so, and this was up significantly from 2019, when 66.7% of school respondents had acted to reduce expenditures. In 2020, 81.8% of non-school respondents said they had taken such action. By far the most common measure employed by school respondents to reduce expenses was improving energy efficiency. Nearly half (46.7%) of school respondents said they had taken action to improve energy efficiency. Other measures taken by somewhat fewer school respondents include: reducing staff (24.4%); putting construction and renovation plans on hold (24.4%); increasing fees (17.8%); and cutting programs or services (16.3%).
Schools were slightly more likely than usual to report a higher number of people using their facilities in 2019. From 2016 to 2017, 32.8% of school respondents saw an increase in usage, and from 2017 to 2018, 30.3% saw an increase. From 2018 to 2019, 40.3% of school respondents said the number of people using their facilities increased. Another 52.2% said there had been no change, and 7.5% reported a decrease. (See Figure 51.) Looking forward, similar numbers expect increasing usage in 2020 (43.5%) and 2021 (42.6%), while around half expect the number of people using their facilities to remain unchanged in those years.
The number of school respondents with plans for construction has been on the rise over the past five years. In 2020, 69.3% of school respondents said they had such plans, up from 64% in 2019. There was an increase in the number of schools planning every kind of construction. Nearly one-third (32.1%) were planning new construction, up from 24.5% in 2019. More than one-third (34.3%) were planning additions, up from 33.8% in 2019. And more than half (50.4%) were planning renovations, up from 36% in 2019. (See Figure 52.)
School respondents in 2020 were planning to spend 21.8% more on their construction plans than school respondents from 2019: $6,990,000 vs. $5,740,000. Schools generally have a higher-than-average construction cost, and this year is no exception, with schools planning to spend 24.2% more than the average for all facility types.
The features most commonly found among school respondents' facilities remained consistent from 2019 to 2020. The 10 most common features include: locker rooms; indoor courts for sports like basketball and volleyball; bleachers and seating; natural turf sports fields; concessions; classrooms and meeting rooms; outdoor tracks; outdoor courts for sports like tennis and basketball; fitness centers; and playgrounds.
Schools were again much less likely than other respondents to report that they had plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years. Some 27% of school respondents said they would be adding features (up from 24.5% in 2019), compared with 45.2% of non-school respondents.
The 10 most commonly planned features include:
- Synthetic turf sports fields (37.8% of schools with plans to add features)
- Fitness centers (18.9%)
- Bleachers and seating (18.9%)
- Locker rooms (16.2%)
- Playgrounds (13.5%)
- Open spaces such as gardens and natural areas (13.5%)
- Community or multipurpose centers (13.5%)
- Classrooms and meeting rooms (13.5%)
- Outdoor sports courts (10.8%)
- Exercise studio rooms (10.8%)
More school respondents in 2020 than in 2019 were planning to add: synthetic turf sports fields (up from 23.5%); fitness centers (up from 11.8%); playgrounds (up from 11.8%); and classrooms and meeting rooms (up from 11.8%). Open spaces, community centers, outdoor sports courts and exercise studio spaces did not appear among the top 10 planned features in 2019. They replace outdoor fitness equipment, natural turf fields, park restroom structures, and climbing walls.
A majority of school respondents (97.1%) said they offer programs of some kind at their facilities, compared with 96.9% of non-school respondents. The most common program provided at school respondents' facilities was youth sports teams, found among 79.6% of school respondents' facilities. This compares with just 52.3% of non-school respondents.
Other programs commonly found among school respondents' facilities include: educational programs (67.2%); fitness programs (59.9%); sports tournaments and races (54%); individual sports activities like running clubs (40.1%); performing arts programs (38.7%); group exercise programs (38%); sport training like tennis lessons (38%); day camps and summer camps (36.5%); and swimming programs (35%).
Programs that saw growth from 2019 to 2020 include: fitness programs (up from 57.8%); sports tournaments and races (up from 44.4%); individual sports activities (up from 36.3%); performing arts programs (up from 37%); and group exercise (up from 34.8%).
School respondents were much less likely than others to indicate that they had plans to add more programming at their facilities over the next three years, though the number with plans increased in 2020. While 37.3% of non-school respondents had plans to add programs in 2020, just 16.8% of school respondents had such plans, up from 12.2% in 2019.
The top planned programs among school respondents include:
- Fitness programs (no change from 2019)
- Youth sports teams (up from No. 3)
- Daycare and preschool (did not appear in 2019)
- Group exercise programs (no change)
- Day camps and summer camps (up from No. 6)
- Sports tournaments and races (up from No. 7)
- Educational programs (down from No. 5)
- Swimming programs (did not appear in 2019)
- Arts and crafts programs (did not appear in 2019)
- Functional fitness (did not appear in 2019)
Programs that dropped off of the list of top planned programs from 2019 include: individual sports activities like running clubs, sport training, performing arts programs, and teen programming. RM