Feature Article - June 2018
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Schools & School Districts

A Look at Trends in Schools & School Districts

While school respondents were less likely than others to report that they have plans for construction, the number did increase from 55.2 percent in 2017 to 59.5 percent in 2017. This compares with 71 percent of non-school respondents who have plans to build in 2018. School respondents in 2018 are most likely to be planning renovations, with 40 percent indicating they have such plans. Another 21.5 percent plan to make renovations to their existing facilities, and 20 percent are planning to build new facilities. (See Figure 52.)

School respondents' average construction budget increased 18.1 percent from 2017 to 2018, rising from $5,385,000 to $6,360,000. This is 48.3 percent higher than the average amount budgeted for construction among all respondents.

The features currently included among school respondents' facilities remained relatively consistent from 2017 to 2018, with position changes, but the same top 10 features. 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, classrooms and meeting rooms, outdoor tracks, outdoor courts for sports like tennis and basketball, fitness centers and playgrounds.

Schools were much less likely than non-schools to report that they have plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years. While 45.8 percent of non-school respondents said they have such plans, just a quarter (25 percent) of school respondents said they will be adding features at their facilities. This is down from 2017, when 30.8 percent of schools had such plans.

The 10 most commonly planned features include:

  1. Synthetic turf sports fields (36 percent of schools with plans to add features)
  2. Bleachers and seating (32 percent)
  3. Fitness centers (26 percent)
  4. Concessions (20 percent)
  5. Indoor sports courts (18 percent)
  6. Classrooms and meeting rooms (18 percent)
  7. Locker rooms (18 percent)
  8. Playgrounds (12 percent)
  9. Exercise studios (12 percent)
  10. Climbing walls (12 percent)

More school respondents in 2018 than in 2017 are planning to add: synthetic turf sports fields (up from 34 percent); bleachers and seating (up from 20.8 percent); and fitness centers (up from 11.3 percent). Concessions, indoor sports courts, classrooms and meeting rooms, locker rooms, exercise studios and climbing walls did not appear among the top 10 planned features in 2017. They replace outdoor tracks, outdoor courts, walking and hiking trails, restroom structures, fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment, and park shelters.


The vast majority of school respondents (97.4 percent) said they offer programs of some kind at their facilities. This compares with 97 percent of non-school respondents. The most common program offered by school respondents is youth sports teams, found among 81.6 percent, down slightly from 82.1 percent in 2017.

Other programs commonly found among school respondents' facilities include: educational programs (69.9 percent), sports tournaments and races (50.5 percent), fitness programs (48.5 percent), individual sports activities such as running clubs (41.3 percent), performing arts programs (34.7 percent), sport-specific training (33.2 percent), holiday events and other special events (31.1 percent), arts and crafts (30.1 percent), and swimming programs (30.1 percent).

Programs that saw growth from 2017 to 2018 include: educational programs (up from 67.3 percent); sports tournaments and races (up from 46.4 percent), individual sports activities (up from 31.5 percent), and performing arts (up from 34.5 percent). Sport-specific training was not among the top programs offered by schools in 2017. It replaces day camps and summer camps.

School respondents were much less likely than others to report that they have plans to add more programming at their facilities over the next few years. While 34.4 percent of non-school respondents said they have such plans, just 13.5 percent of school respondents were planning to add programs, down from 18.6 percent in 2017.

The top planned programs among school respondents include:

  1. Fitness programs (no change from 2017)
  2. Educational programs (no change)
  3. Sports tournaments and races (up from No. 10)
  4. Youth sports teams (no change)
  5. Adult sports teams (did not appear in 2017)
  6. Mind-body balance programs such as yoga (down from No. 5)
  7. Teen programming (did not appear in 2017)
  8. Individual sports activities such as running clubs (down from No. 6)
  9. Special needs programs (down from No. 8)
  10. Performing arts programs (did not appear in 2017)

Programs that dropped off the list of top planned programs from 2017 include: holiday events and other special events, day camps and summer camps, and arts and crafts.