Feature Article - June 2010
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A Look at Trends in Schools and School Districts

At the same time, around a third of schools respondents expect the number of people using their facilities to increase in 2009, 2010 and 2011. More than half expect those numbers to hold steady in those years. (See Figure 49.) But with falling revenues and increasing usage, there is every reason to expect that these respondents' ability to maintain current service levels and maintenance schedules will be extremely challenged.

Respondents from schools and school districts actually saw an increase of 5.1 percent to their operating budgets in 2009, from an average of $2,343,000 in fiscal 2008 to $2,463,000 in 2009. They are expecting the sharpest decrease to operating costs of any facility type in 2010, of 8.5 percent.

Notably, respondents from schools and school districts were the least likely to have taken action to reduce their operating costs. That said, 86.2 percent said they had taken some measures. The most common measure taken was to improve energy efficiency. More than 60 percent of schools respondents said they had improved energy efficiency in order to reduce their costs. Around a third also said they had cut staff (35.3 percent), put construction plans on hold (32.8 percent), or cut programs and services (30.6 percent). More than one-quarter (26.3 percent) said they had increased fees. And, more than one in 10 (12.1 percent) also said they had cut operating hours, and nearly one in 10 (9.9 percent) said they had closed facilities.

In the AASA survey, school administrators discussed a variety of measures taken in reaction to the increasing intenssity of budget cuts for the 2010-11 school year. More than a quarter (26 percent) said they had increased class size in 2009-10, and 62 percent were planning to increase class size in 2010-11. A surprising 13 percent are considering reducing operations to a four-day school week. And, more than one-third (34 percent) are considering eliminating summer school for the 2010-11 school year.

With lower budgets, shortened school weeks or larger class sizes, is there any reason to suspect that students' ability to get involved in extracurricular sports, to engage in recess or take part in other activities will not be affected?