Growth Spurt: 30th Annual Official Education Construction Report

30th Annual Official Education Construction Report: Spending on school construction booms.

Times remain difficult for the nation's school districts and colleges, as the budget-cutting ax continues to strike deeper into staffing, programs and operations. However, when it comes to construction spending, money seems to abound.

The amount of construction put in place in 2003 by the nation's education institutions reached an all-time high, even as spending in other areas was curtailed significantly. According to American School & University's 30th annual Official Education Construction Report, school districts and colleges spent $48.1 billion on construction in 2003. The amount represents an almost 20 percent increase in spending compared with 2002. And there is little sign that the robust spending on construction will slow anytime soon, as almost $150 billion is projected to be spent over the next three years.

School districts reversed a year-earlier slowdown by putting in place $28.6 billion worth of construction, an 18 percent increase over 2002. New construction accounted for 61 percent of the dollars spent as districts continue to scramble to provide space for the influx of students.

Colleges and universities continued their aggressive spending, putting in place $19.5 billion worth of construction in 2003, a 20 percent increase over the year before. New facilities accounted for about three out of every four construction projects completed last year.

The 30th annual Official Education Construction Report contains myriad data on construction spending in 2003, as well as projected spending through 2006.

Methodology

To arrive at results for the 30th annual Official Education Construction Report, a detailed questionnaire was mailed in October 2003 to chief business officials at the nation's school districts and colleges. Basically, two questions were asked:

  • Did you complete any construction during the past year?
  • Will you complete any construction in the next three years?

Administrators answering “yes” to either question were then asked to provide a variety of details on the amount being spent, the type of construction being done (new, addition or modernization), and the expected completion date. All respondents involved with new and retrofit construction were asked to provide additional information on each project. Further follow-up calls were made to clarify some data. Responses were separated by institution type, region of the country and institution size, and projected across the education universe.

 

Table 1: Education construction completed in 2003 ($000s)

 
The National Picture
SCHOOL DISTRICTS
  $17,446,903 New
  $5,284,944 Additions
  $5,906,205 Modernizations
  $28,638,052 TOTAL
COLLEGES
  $14,149,128 New
  $891,238 Additions
  $4,429,175 Modernizations
  $19,469,541 TOTAL
ALL EDUCATION
  $31,596,031 New
  $6,176,182 Additions
  $10,335,380 Modernizations
  $48,107,593 TOTAL

Table 1 outlines the amount and type of construction spending by school districts, colleges and all education in 2003. Even as operating budgets continue to suffer, spending on construction remains strong. The $48.1 billion put in place last year was driven by spending on totally new facilities, which accounted for 65 percent of all education-construction expenditures.

School districts are responsible for the majority of education-construction spending — 59 percent — which is comparable to previous years' percentage amounts. Of particular note is the focus districts placed on totally new construction in 2003. Traditionally, additions and modernization make up the larger percentage of K-12 construction spending.

Table 2: Education construction projected to be completed in 2004-2006 ($000s)

 
The National Picture
SCHOOL DISTRICTS
  $56,907,908 New
  $11,768,079 Additions
  $21,137,419 Modernizations
  $89,813,406 TOTAL
COLLEGES
  $38,545,373 New
  $6,507,711 Additions
  $14,196,030 Modernizations
  $59,249,114 TOTAL
ALL EDUCATION
  $95,453,281 New
  $18,275,790 Additions
  $35,333,449 Modernizations
  $149,062,520 TOTAL

Table 2 details the amount and type of construction projected to be put in place through 2006, as well as a breakout of data by type of institution and by type of spending. Gloomy economic conditions are no deterrent to the need for additional construction as the nation's school districts and colleges project to spend $149.1 billion on projects over the next three years.

About 60 percent of the construction spending through 2006 will be by school districts ($89.8 billion). New construction will account for 63 percent of the spending by school districts and 65 percent of the spending by colleges over this time.

Table 3: Education construction: Reaching new heights

 
($ Billions) 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
School Districts $10.687 $10.417 $10.964 $12.394 $17.095 $16.039 $21.567 $26.777 $24.343 $28.638
Colleges $6.421 $6.717 $7.235 $7.530 $7.330 $13.964 $14.703 $14.732 $16.205 $19.469
All Education $17.108 $17.134 $18.199 $19.924 $24.425 $30.003 $36.270 $41.509 $40.548 $48.107
New Construction $8.315 $7.970 $9.642 $10.471 $12.097 $14.431 $19.139 $20.112 $22.505 $31.596
Additions $3.731 $4.922 $4.002 $4.249 $6.160 $7.043 $4.936 $5.814 $8.014 $6.176
Modernizations $5.062 $4.242 $4.555 $5.204 $6.168 $8.529 $12.195 $15.583 $10.029 $10.335

Table 3 looks back at the past 10 years of education construction by amount, category and type of institution.

Table 4: Education construction, 2003: By type of institution ($000)

 
Region Schools Colleges All Education
1 $1,606,276 $409,375 $2,015,651
2 $4,063,544 $2,744,156 $6,807,700
3 $1,986,845 $2,506,858 $4,493,703
4 $1,745,142 $2,243,464 $3,988,606
5 $10,899,093 $3,687,588 $14,586,681
6 $682,607 $1,983,775 $2,666,382
7 $1,076,549 $972,863 $2,049,412
8 $2,408,560 $1,706,626 $4,115,186
9 $4,169,436 $3,214,836 $7,384,272
Nat'l $28,638,052 $19,469,541 $48,107,593

Table 4 details regional spending on construction by type of institution. Region 5 (see Key to Regions on p. 26) put in place the most school and college construction in 2003 ($14.6 billion), followed by Region 9 ($7.4 billion) and Region 2 ($6.8 billion). Aggressive construction programs in all of these regions — some as a result of court order — resulted in significant spending that is expected to continue at least for the next few years.

 

Table 5: School construction, 2003: By type of construction ($000)

 
  Total dollars spent % of dollars spent
Region New Bldgs Adds/Mods New Bldgs Adds/Mods
1 $669,083 $937,193 41.7% 58.3%
2 $2,329,632 $1,733,912 57.3% 42.7%
3 $1,105,071 $881,774 55.6% 44.4%
4 $744,445 $1,000,697 42.7% 57.3%
5 $7,392,800 $3,506,293 67.8% 32.2%
6 $453,364 $229,243 66.4% 33.6%
7 $390,643 $685,906 36.3% 63.7%
8 $1,951,933 $456,627 81.0% 19.0%
9 $2,409,932 $1,759,504 57.8% 42.2%
Nat'l $17,446,903 $11,191,149 60.9% 39.1%

Table 5 focuses on the type of school construction completed in 2003 by region and type of spending (new buildings, additions and modernization). New school facilities accounted for 61 percent of the expenditures, with six of the nine regions spending more than half of their dollars on totally new facilities.

Table 6: College construction, 2003: By type of construction ($000)

 
  Total dollars spent % of dollars spent
Region New Bldgs Adds/Mods New Bldgs Adds/Mods
1 $269,029 $140,346 65.7% 34.3%
2 $1,683,262 $1,060,894 61.3% 38.7%
3 $1,905,993 $600,865 76.0% 24.0%
4 $1,808,915 $434,549 80.6% 19.4%
5 $2,962,084 $725,504 80.3% 19.7%
6 $1,515,498 $468,277 76.4% 23.6%
7 $603,778 $369,085 62.1% 37.9%
8 $906,330 $800,296 53.1% 46.9%
9 $2,494,239 $720,597 77.6% 22.4%
Nat'l $14,149,128 $5,320,413 72.7% 27.3%

Table 6 looks at the type of college construction completed in 2003 by region and type of spending. New college facilities made up 73 percent of projects, with every region spending more than half of its dollars on new buildings.

Table 7: Education construction projected to be completed, 2004-2006 ($000)

 
The Regional Picture
Region Schools Colleges Total
1 $8,861,523 $3,356,869 $12,218,392
2 $9,575,951 $7,611,189 $17,187,140
3 $4,831,364 $7,763,144 $12,594,508
4 $9,265,659 $5,685,229 $14,950,888
5 $17,474,378 $7,632,358 $25,106,736
6 $7,401,730 $5,598,237 $12,999,967
7 $2,659,890 $ 778,519 $3,438,409
8 $12,867,200 $2,291,615 $15,158,815
9 $16,875,711 $18,531,954 $35,407,665
Nat'l $89,813,406 $59,249,114 $149,062,520

Table 7 includes projected spending by region on construction through 2006 by school districts, colleges and universities, and all education. The nation's education institutions expect to complete $149.1 billion worth of construction over the next three years.

Slightly more than half of the construction spending will take place in just three regions. Region 9 will account for the bulk of the construction spending ($35.4 billion), followed by Region 5 ($25.1 billion) and Region 2 (17.2 billion). These regions also were the most active construction regions in 2003.

For school districts, the most active construction region will be Region 5 ($17.5 billion), followed closely by Region 9 ($16.9 billion) and Region 8 ($12.9 billion). Region 9 will be the most active construction region through 2006 on the college front, spending $18.5 billion over this time. Regions 3, 5 and 2 follow, with each expecting to spend in the $7.5-billion range.

Table 8: How the school construction dollars are projected to be split, 2004-2006

 
Total School Construction ($000)    
Region New Adds/Mods % New % Adds/Mods
1 $3,756,865 $5,104,658 42.4% 57.6%
2 $4,129,447 $5,446,504 43.1% 56.9%
3 $1,556,182 $3,275,182 32.2% 67.8%
4 $6,191,796 $3,073,863 66.8% 33.2%
5 $14,753,369 $2,721,010 84.4% 15.6%
6 $2,724,961 $4,676,769 36.8% 63.2%
7 $795,565 $1,864,326 29.9% 70.1%
8 $10,641,566 $2,225,633 82.7% 17.3%
9 $12,358,157 $4,517,553 73.2% 26.8%
Nat'l $56,907,908 $32,905,498 63.4% 36.6%

Table 8 details how the school construction dollars through 2006 will be split. Only four regions will be spending more than half of their construction dollars on new facilities. The majority will be allocating a larger percentage of their spending to additions and modernization. But when broken out nationally, 63 percent of the total dollars school districts project to spend on construction over the next three years will go toward new facilities. This primarily is due to the most active regions (5, 8 and 9) spending more of their money on new facilities.

Table 9: How the college construction dollars are projected to be split, 2004-2006

 
Total College Construction ($000)    
Region New Adds/Mods % New % Adds/Mods
1 $1,979,378 $1,377,491 59.0% 41.0%
2 $4,594,706 $3,016,483 60.4% 39.6%
3 $5,015,238 $2,747,906 64.6% 35.4%
4 $3,450,137 $2,235,092 60.7% 39.3%
5 $4,097,829 $3,534,530 53.7% 46.3%
6 $4,118,908 $1,479,329 73.6% 26.4%
7 $531,321 $247,198 68.2% 31.8%
8 $1,624,256 $667,359 70.9% 29.1%
9 $13,133,600 $5,398,353 70.9% 29.1%
Nat'l $38,545,373 $20,703,741 65.1% 34.9%

Table 9 focuses on how higher-education construction dollars will be split over the next three years. Every region will spend more than half of its dollars on new construction, with 65 percent of the total dollars put toward new buildings.

Table 10: How much does a new school cost? (Median)

 
  Elementary Middle High* All
Cost/Square Foot $114 $194 $118 $120
Cost/Student $13,853 $22,933 $20,896 $19,168
Square Feet/Student 133 141 178 150
Number of Pupils 500 700 1,450 680
Size (sq. ft.) 65,000 110,000 244,548 80,018
Total Cost ($000) $6,650 $18,450 $25,900 $9,000
*Includes supplemental data from AS&U's 2003 Architectural Portfolio.

Table 10 details a variety of cost and size data for the national median new elementary, middle and high school, as well as all schools. Of particular note, middle schools are the most expensive to build per square foot ($194) and per student ($22,933).

Table 11: Retrofits performed

When schools and universities renovated facilities in 2003, these were the types of retrofits most often performed (by percentage of projects):

 
  Schools Colleges
ADA Compliance 39% 51%
Carpeting 33% 57%
Electric 49% 73%
Flooring 41% 67%
HVAC 52% 63%
Indoor Air Quality 15% 26%
Lighting 47% 69%
Painting/Interior Trim 41% 73%
Plumbing 35% 62%
Roofing 30% 32%
Security/Life Safety 24% 41%
Technology Infrastructure 32% 58%
Windows/Doors 41% 50%

Table 11 outlines the types of retrofits performed in 2003 by type of institution. Energy-related retrofits continue to be the most often performed retrofit at both schools and colleges.

Top 5 most active construction regions, 2003: By institution type

SCHOOLS COLLEGES ALL EDUCATION
Region ($000) Region ($000) Region ($000)
5 $10,899,093 5 $3,687,588 5 $14,586,681
9 $4,169,436 9 $3,214,836 9 $7,384,272
2 $4,063,544 2 $2,744,156 2 $6,807,700
8 $2,408,560 3 $2,506,858 3 $4,493,703
3 $1,986,845 4 $2,243,464 8 $4,115,186

Key to regions

  CT MA ME NH RI VT
Region 1: NJ NY
Region 2: DC DE MD PA VA WV
Region 3: AL FL GA KY MS NC SC TN
Region 4: IL IN MI MN OH WI
Region 5: AR LA NM OK TX
Region 6: IA KS MO NE
Region 7: AK CO ID MT ND OR SD UT
Region 8: WA WY
Region 9: AZ CA HI NV

 

The ultimate resource

As the bellwether report documenting education construction activity for the past 30 years, the American School & University survey is regularly referenced by local, state and federal agencies, as well as the nation's leading news organizations. AS&U actually started compiling data on school and university construction in 1950 for the 1949 year. After a decade or so of yearly surveys, data began being compiled sporadically until industry demand prompted AS&U to start collecting data annually again. The annual reports resurfaced in 1975 with information on education construction completed in 1974, and data has been collected and published every year since. American School & University is the only authorized source of this education construction information.

Agron is editor-in-chief for AS&U.

TAGS: Construction
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