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Weathering the Storm

Last year was difficult for anyone involved in facilities and construction, and education professionals were not immune to the effects of rising prices, material and labor shortages, tight budgets and skyrocketing energy costs.

Yet, while education institutions weathered the storm better than most, what challenges will 2008 bring? That is the focus of “Outlook 2008” (see p. 14), which looks at what's ahead for schools and universities in the new year and beyond.

Even with many of the same issues from 2007 carrying over into 2008, education institutions are well-positioned to address the challenges the new year will bring.

One barometer that reflects the public's support (or lack of it) is bond-issue funding. In 2007, 467 of 752 school bond issues were passed (62.1 percent). According to The Bond Buyer, the 10 largest school bond issues approved in 2007 ($ millions):

  1. Cypress-Fairbanks, Texas ($806).
  2. Houston ($805).
  3. Folsom Cordova, Calif. ($750).
  4. Prosper, Texas ($710).
  5. Northside, Texas ($693).
  6. Spring Branch, Texas ($596).
  7. Fort Worth, Texas ($594).
  8. Leander, Texas ($559).
  9. Mecklenburg County, N.C. ($516).
  10. North East ISD, Tex. ($498).

Of particular note is that eight of the 10 largest bond issues passed were in Texas. In fact, school districts throughout the state were very successful in gaining the support of taxpayers to meet growing infrastructure needs.

2008 is expected to usher in many other large bond issues to address facilities needs. For example, California's Superintendent of Public Instruction is proposing a $9 billion bond issue in November for elementary, secondary and post-secondary construction. The Clark County district is considering a $7 billion bond proposal in November that would be combined with an additional $2.5 billion in other taxes to fund 73 new schools.

Although no one can predict the future, “Outlook 2008” can provide insight on critical issues you are bound to encounter in the new year and beyond.

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