School systems in the United States are not only in the business of education,
they are also in the construction business, according to the results of a new survey conducted by FMI Corp.
in conjunction with the Council for Education Facilities Planners International.
According to the FMI K-12 School Construction Management Survey Report, the
magnitude of school construction and renovation and modernization projects in the nation's largest school
systems indicates that school systems need to think and act more like the largest owners in the nation.
Facing problems such as rapid growth in enrollment, overcrowded schools and
poorly maintained, aging classroom buildings, school systems have been engaged in a rapid increase in
construction that started in the mid-1990s and is projected to continue through the next decade. The median
annual expenditure for the school systems represented by the survey is $14 million for new construction and
$7 million for school modernization and renovation; 37% of the school systems surveyed, however, budget more
than $20 million per year for new construction, and 24% report more than $20 million spent for
renovation/modernization programs annually.
Despite the rapidly rising need for construction and modernization, school
facility directors and managers responding to the survey say that only 34% of school systems have sufficient
budgets for construction and renovation needs; 20% do not require a master plan for school construction
needs, and only 23% say their planning process is excellent.
"The results of this survey indicate that few school systems are organized
and staffed to take on the challenges of large construction programs," said Mark Bridgers, senior
consultant with FMI. "Without sufficient master planning, the ability to examine alternative delivery
methods and provide sufficient staffing for construction oversight, school systems are running into problems
like inefficient use of their limited building funds."
The survey concludes that school construction is an important factor in the
primary mission of schools, which is to educate students, and the school construction program should be
viewed as an important aspect in accomplishing that mission.
To receive a copy of the FMI K-12 School Construction Management Survey Report,
contact Phil Warner at [email protected] or 919/785-9357.
FMI provides management consulting and investment banking services to the construction industry.