Feature Article - June 2021
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Trends in Schools & School Districts

A Look at Trends in Schools & School Districts

School respondents in 2021 were planning to spend $6,760,000 on their construction, down 3.3% from 2020's average of $6,990,000, and still 17.8% higher than the average for 2019, $5,740,000.

The most common features found among school respondents' facilities in 2021 include: locker rooms; indoor sports courts for sports like basketball and volleyball; concessions; bleachers and seating; outdoor tracks; natural turf sports fields; classrooms and meeting rooms; fitness centers; outdoor sports courts for sports like tennis and basketball; and Wi-Fi services.

Schools were the least likely of all respondents to report that they had plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years. Just 20% of school respondents said they had plans to add features, down from 27% in 2020. This compares with 34.8% of non-school respondents.

The 10 most commonly planned features for school respondents include:

  • Synthetic turf sports fields (34.8% of schools with plans to add features said they would be adding synthetic turf)
  • Bleachers and seating (21.7%)
  • Outdoor tracks (17.4%)
  • Classrooms and meeting rooms (17.4%)
  • Park shelters (17.4%)
  • Wi-Fi services (13%)
  • Exercise studio rooms (13%)
  • Fitness centers (13%)
  • Community or multipurpose centers (13%)
  • Concessions (13%)


A majority of school respondents (97.3%) said they offer programs at their facilities, representing virtually no change from 2020, when 97.1% had programming. They were slightly less likely than non-school respondents to host programs at their facilities (97.6% of non-school respondents hosted programming).

The most common program provided at school respondents' facilities was youth sports teams, found among 77.9% of school respondents facilities. This compares with 54.1% of non-school respondents.

The remainder of the top 10 programs found at school respondents' facilities include: educational programs (70.8%); sports tournaments and races (54.9%); fitness programs (54%); individual sports activities such as running clubs (49.6%); group exercise programs (36.3%); performing arts programs (35.4%); swimming programs (34.5%); sport training such as golf or tennis lessons (31.9%); and holidays and other special events (31%).

School respondents were far less likely than others to report that they had plans to add programs at their facilities over the next three years. Just 14.8% of school respondents said they had plans to add programs, down from 16.8% in 2020 (but still higher than 2019, when just 12.2% had plans for program additions). This compares with 38.1% of non-school respondents.

The top planned program additions for school respondents include:

  • Fitness programs (no change from 2020)
  • Individual sports activities like running or swim clubs (did not appear in top planned programs for schools in 2020)
  • Group exercise programs (up from No. 4)
  • Teen programming (did not appear in 2020)
  • Mind-body/balance programs like yoga (did not appear in 2020)
  • Adult sports teams (did not appear in 2020)
  • Day camps and summer camps (down from No. 5)
  • Sport training such as tennis lessons (did not appear in 2020)
  • Educational programs (down from No. 7)
  • Arts and crafts (down from No. 9)

Top Challenges

Like all respondents, schools named equipment and facility maintenance as their top challenge. However, they were far more likely than those from other facilities to name this their No. 1 issue currently. Some 55.6% of school respondents said equipment and facility maintenance is their top concern, compared with 49.6% of non-school respondents.

Safety and risk management was the second most common concern for school respondents, with 38.9% naming this one of their top issues. This compares with 34.5% of non-school respondents.

School respondents were also far more likely to indicate that youth fitness and wellness is one of their top concerns than non-school respondents. More than a quarter (28.7%) of school respondents said youth fitness and wellness is a top issue of concern, compared with 17% of non-school respondents. (See Figure 56.)

Legislative issues were also more likely to be a concern for schools, with 17.6% of school respondents naming it a top issue, compared with 10.9% of non-school respondents. RM