American School Construction Is Underfunded By A Half Trillion, Report Says

It has long been known that America’s schools are in disrepair, but a report released Tuesday outlined exactly how bad the trouble is — and the staggering amounts needed to fix it.

According to a Center for Green Schools investigation, schools needed an additional $271 billion in funding between 1995 and 2008 in order to stay up-to-date. They didn’t get that funding, which doesn’t even include the amount that should have been spent on buying new schools property.

What is worse, the AP reports, is that “[t]o update and modernize the buildings, the figure doubles, to $542 billion over the next decade”:

[Former President Bill] Clinton and the Center for Green Schools urged a Government Accountability Office assessment on what it would take to get school buildings up to date to help students learn, keep teachers healthy and put workers back on the jobs. The last such report, issued in 1995 during the Clinton administration, estimated it would take $112 billion to bring the schools into good repair and did not include the need for new buildings to accommodate the growing number of students.


The Center for Green Schools’ researchers reviewed spending and estimates schools spent $211 billion on upkeep between 1995 and 2008. During that same time, schools should have spent some $482 billion, the group calculated based on a formula included in the most recent GAO study.

The estimates for school repairs might have been much lower, had Congress worked to pass the American Jobs Act. That plan, put forth by President Obama in 2011, would have allocated $30 billion in funding to modernize at least 35,000 schools. At the time, Republicans lampooned the costs as too high. In context of the overall funding needs of schools, though, it seems like just a drop in the bucket.