Feature Article - June 2008
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School Days

Steady State

The majority of respondents from schools and school districts said the number of people using their facilities did not change from 2006 to 2007, and their revenues remained steady in that period as well. The majority also expects little change over the next several years.

While just under a quarter (73.5 percent) of respondents said the number of people using their facilities had remained the same from 2006 to 2007, more expect that number to remain unchanged between 2007 and 2009. Just 20.7 percent expect to see an increase from 2007 to 2008, with 78.4 percent projecting the numbers to remain even, while from 2008 to 2009, a full 80.7 percent of respondents expect no change in the number of people using their facilities.

Similar numbers are expecting no change to their revenues. From 2006 to 2007, just over three-quarters (75.7 percent) said their revenues had remained even, while 19.8 percent had seen an increase. From 2007 to 2008, 75.9 percent project even revenues, and from 2008 to 2009, 78.2 percent expect no change.

At the same time, respondents from schools and school districts are projecting an increase of 14 percent in their annual operating expenditures, from $1,018,700 in fiscal 2007 to a projected $1,161,200 in fiscal 2009, slightly greater than the 12.1 percent increase expected among all facility types.

Budgets were a top concern among respondents in this category, many of whom are looking to add programs or renovate facilities with no additional money coming in.

An equipment manager at a Massachusetts district said the budget was an issue due to maintenance and renovations. In particular, he was concerned about having the funds to upgrade a stadium from natural grass to turf, and then maintain that new field.

An executive director of the physical plant operations for a Florida school district said, "Budgetary concerns are particularly problematic. We are constantly being required to do more with less, and since we are adding pools, schools and playgrounds, we must staff the human infrastructure to maintain them. Our revenues are driven by property taxes, and as the property tax reform gains momentum, declining revenues will negatively affect facility conditions."

In fact, with schools in many states funded by property taxes, the recent decline in home prices, along with property tax reforms in many locales, could end up taking a toll on facility upkeep and programming—a concern reflected in many other respondents' comments.