Feature Article - June 2020
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Trends in Schools & School Districts

A Look at Trends in Schools & School District


School Facilities

Schools were slightly more likely than usual to report a higher number of people using their facilities in 2019. From 2016 to 2017, 32.8% of school respondents saw an increase in usage, and from 2017 to 2018, 30.3% saw an increase. From 2018 to 2019, 40.3% of school respondents said the number of people using their facilities increased. Another 52.2% said there had been no change, and 7.5% reported a decrease. (See Figure 51.) Looking forward, similar numbers expect increasing usage in 2020 (43.5%) and 2021 (42.6%), while around half expect the number of people using their facilities to remain unchanged in those years.

The number of school respondents with plans for construction has been on the rise over the past five years. In 2020, 69.3% of school respondents said they had such plans, up from 64% in 2019. There was an increase in the number of schools planning every kind of construction. Nearly one-third (32.1%) were planning new construction, up from 24.5% in 2019. More than one-third (34.3%) were planning additions, up from 33.8% in 2019. And more than half (50.4%) were planning renovations, up from 36% in 2019. (See Figure 52.)

School respondents in 2020 were planning to spend 21.8% more on their construction plans than school respondents from 2019: $6,990,000 vs. $5,740,000. Schools generally have a higher-than-average construction cost, and this year is no exception, with schools planning to spend 24.2% more than the average for all facility types.

The features most commonly found among school respondents' facilities remained consistent from 2019 to 2020. The 10 most common features include: locker rooms; indoor courts for sports like basketball and volleyball; bleachers and seating; natural turf sports fields; concessions; classrooms and meeting rooms; outdoor tracks; outdoor courts for sports like tennis and basketball; fitness centers; and playgrounds.

Schools were again much less likely than other respondents to report that they had plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years. Some 27% of school respondents said they would be adding features (up from 24.5% in 2019), compared with 45.2% of non-school respondents.

The 10 most commonly planned features include:

  1. Synthetic turf sports fields (37.8% of schools with plans to add features)
  2. Fitness centers (18.9%)
  3. Bleachers and seating (18.9%)
  4. Locker rooms (16.2%)
  5. Playgrounds (13.5%)
  6. Open spaces such as gardens and natural areas (13.5%)
  7. Community or multipurpose centers (13.5%)
  8. Classrooms and meeting rooms (13.5%)
  9. Outdoor sports courts (10.8%)
  10. Exercise studio rooms (10.8%)

More school respondents in 2020 than in 2019 were planning to add: synthetic turf sports fields (up from 23.5%); fitness centers (up from 11.8%); playgrounds (up from 11.8%); and classrooms and meeting rooms (up from 11.8%). Open spaces, community centers, outdoor sports courts and exercise studio spaces did not appear among the top 10 planned features in 2019. They replace outdoor fitness equipment, natural turf fields, park restroom structures, and climbing walls.