WASHINGTON, DC – A new survey, conducted by the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS), identifies more than $4.2 billion in pressing construction needs at federally impacted school districts nationwide. These school districts encompass nontaxable Federal property, such as military installations, Indian lands, low-rent housing, and other Federal properties.
School construction is financed primarily at the local level, usually through bonds. Federally impacted school districts often have minimal assessed land value – and thereby minimal bonding capacity – because of the presence of nontaxable federal property. These school districts lack the local resources to address urgent facility needs, not to mention modernize facilities.
“The condition of facilities at many federally impacted school districts is dire,” said NAFIS Executive Director Hilary Goldmann. “We are talking about emergency repairs for health and safety – like roof and foundation maintenance, technology upgrades, asbestos abatement, and more. The Federal Government must meet its responsibility to federally impacted schools and pay its share so school facilities are modernized and safe.”
NAFIS surveyed its member school districts about the status of their school facilities. Respondents – 218 school districts from 37 states – reported compelling facility needs.
Twenty-six percent of respondents cited school district facilities that are more than 80 years old, and 65-percent said the overall condition of facilities in their school districts are either fair or poor. Respondents named a variety of essential construction projects, including health and safety related issues such as lead and mold, outdated electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems, leaky roofs, expired boilers, aging technology, and building capacity due to growth in student enrollment.
The total estimated cost to address pressing construction needs in these school districts exceeds $4.2 billion, with the estimated cost of all capital construction needs topping $13 billion. Yet Congress only appropriated $17.4 million in construction funding for the Impact Aid Construction line item in Fiscal Year 2017. What’s more, 82-percent of respondents cited lack of funds as a reason to defer capital construction projects, and 83-percent of respondents said they could start their most pressing capital project within a year if funds were available.
“The importance of a safe learning environment for students is clear, and there is no way this backlog of urgent needs will be met without a significant investment in Federal funding,” said NAFIS Director of Policy & Advocacy Jocelyn Bissonnette. “Federally impacted schools and the students they educate deserve more.”
NAFIS is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association of school districts located across the United States. Founded more than 40 years ago, the association works to ensure the needs of federally impacted school districts, and the children they educate, are met through adequate Federal funds.