Feature Article - June 2017
Find a printable version here

Schools & School Districts

A Look at Trends in Schools & School Districts

School respondents were less likely than others to report that they have plans for construction, though this number is up slightly from last year. While 52 percent of school respondents in 2016 said they were planning construction, some 55.2 percent of school respondents in 2017 have such plans. This compares with 69.8 percent of non-school respondents who have plans to build. School respondents in 2017 are most likely to be planning renovations, with 40.1 percent indicating they'll be renovating their existing facilities. Another 23.8 percent will be making additions, while 20.3 percent said they would build new facilities. (See Figure 52.)

After a couple of years of decreasing construction budgets, schools saw their average budget for construction rise in 2017. School respondents said their average budget for construction increased by 9.5 percent, from $4,920,000 in 2016 to $5,385,000 in 2017. This was 25.7 percent higher than the average construction budget for all respondents.

The features currently included among school respondents' facilities continue to remain consistent. 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, outdoor tracks, classrooms and meeting rooms, fitness centers, outdoor courts for sports like basketball and tennis, and playgrounds.

Schools were much less likely than others to report that they had plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years. While 42.6 percent of non-school respondents said they had such plans, just 30.8 percent of school respondents said they would be adding features at their facilities. However, this is an increase from 2016, when only 26.7 percent of school respondents had such plans.

The 10 most commonly planned additions include:

  1. Synthetic turf sports fields (34 percent of those with plans to add features)
  2. Bleachers and seating (20.8 percent)
  3. Outdoor tracks (18.9 percent)
  4. Playgrounds (15.1 percent)
  5. Outdoor courts for sports like basketball and tennis (13.2 percent)
  6. Walking and hiking trails (11.3 percent)
  7. Fitness centers (11.3 percent)
  8. Park restroom structures (11.3 percent)
  9. Fitness trail or outdoor fitness equipment (9.4 percent)
  10. Park shelters (9.4 percent)

More school respondents in 2017 than in 2016 are planning to add: synthetic turf sports fields (up from 33.9 percent), bleachers and seating (up from 16.9 percent), outdoor tracks (up from 11.9 percent), and playgrounds (up from 11.9 percent). Outdoor courts, walking and hiking trails, park restroom structures, fitness trails and park shelters did not appear among the top 10 planned features in 2016. They replace natural turf sports fields, classrooms and meeting rooms, climbing walls, indoor courts, and concessions.


The vast majority of school respondents (98.2 percent) said they offer programs of some kind at their facilities, compared with 96.9 percent of non-school respondents. The most common program offered is youth sports teams, found among 82.1 percent of school respondents, up from 78.3 percent in 2016.

Other programs commonly found among school respondents include: educational programs (67.3 percent), fitness programs (51.8 percent), sports tournaments and races (46.4 percent), holidays and other special events (37.5 percent), performing arts (34.5 percent), day camps and summer camps (33.9 percent), arts and crafts (32.7 percent), individual sports activities like running clubs (31.5 percent), and swimming programs (31 percent).

In addition to youth sports teams, programs that saw growth from 2016 to 2017 include fitness programs (up from 51.6 percent).

School respondents were much less likely than others to report that they had plans for additional programming at their facilities. While 33.7 percent of non-school respondents said they had such plans, just 18.6 percent of school respondents were planning to add programs. This is an increase from 2016, when only 15.8 percent of schools were planning to add programs.

The top planned programs among school respondents include:

  1. Fitness programs (no change)
  2. Educational programs (no change)
  3. Holidays and other special events (did not appear in 2016)
  4. Youth sports teams (no change)
  5. Mind-body balance programs such as yoga and tai chi (up from No. 7)
  6. Individual sports activities such as running clubs (down from No. 5)
  7. Day camps and summer camps (did not appear in 2016)
  8. Special needs programs (up from No. 9)
  9. Arts and crafts (did not appear in 2016)
  10. Sports tournaments and races (down from No. 3)

Programs that dropped off the top 10 list from 2016 include: performing arts programs, teen programs and swimming programs.