Feature Article - June 2009
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A Look at Trends in Schools and School Districts


he economic downturn has been particularly hard on schools and school districts. Respondents from schools and school districts, who made up 7.2 percent of the total response to the Industry Report survey, were the most likely to indicate that they were "extremely concerned" about the impact of the economic downturn on their facilities. Nearly half (49 percent) said they were extremely concerned. This makes sense, as funding for schools is often based on property taxes or funded through referenda, which may not receive the same level of support when taxpayers are already stretching their budgets. In what is hopefully good news for this sector, the recent stimulus package included funding for schools and school districts to retain staff and improve facilities.

The vast majority of respondents from schools (93.3 percent) were from public schools, while another 5.4 percent indicated they worked for private schools.

Similar to parks and recreation respondents, those from schools were more likely to indicate that they manage or operate a larger number of facilities. More than a quarter (28.9 percent) said they manage or operate 10 or more facilities. Over a third (36.2 percent) manage between four and nine facilities. And just 17.4 percent said they manage a single facility.

Economic Upheaval

Like many other segments of our survey population, this year's school respondents seem to be anticipating greater deviation from the status quo when it comes to the number of people using their facility—with more expecting higher or lower usage this year than last, and fewer expecting those numbers to hold steady.

School respondents were far more likely to report increasing numbers of people using their facilities this year. While 20.7 percent of last year's respondents projected an increase in that number from 2007 to 2008, this year a third (33.8 percent) of respondents actually reported such an increase.

That said, school respondents were also more likely to experience a drop in usage at their facilities than expected. While less than 1 percent of respondents to last year's survey projected a decrease from 2007 to 2008, this year a full 7.6 percent reported such a decrease.

Despite all of this, respondents from schools and school districts were still the most likely to report steady usage at their facilities. They were more likely than other respondents to report no change in usage from 2007 to 2008, and were more likely to project no change over the next two years. (See Figure 44.)