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NOT MAKING THE GRADE: School Buildings Receive a “D-” from Civil Engineers

The American Society of Civil Engineers awarded a D- grade to America’s school buildings and found that 75 percent of the nation’s schools are inadequate to meet the needs of students. The report, an update of the Society’s 2001 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, grades the condition of 12 key areas of American infrastructure and finds that the cost to make necessary improvements for schools remains at more than $127 billion, despite increased spending on school construction since 2001.

The report cites aging, outdated facilities, severe overcrowding, and new mandated class sizes as some of the factors that contribute to the poor condition in which we find many of our schools. It pegs the per student cost for needed capital investment at $3,800, which represents more than half of the average per pupil annual expenditure on education in the United States. As a remedy, the report urges Congress to enact the America’s Better Classroom Act of 2003, H.R. 930 and S. 856, introduced by Rep. Nancy L. Johnson (D-CT) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), respectively. The bills would help states and school districts pay the interest on school modernization bonds through the use of tax credits.

The complete report is available at:

For an overall argument on the importance of needed improvements in America’s infrastructure vis-à-vis the supplemental spending bill for military operations and the reconstruction of Iraq, read “A Debt We Can Afford,” a Washington Post Op-Ed by Felix G. Rohatyn at:

Building a Legacy of Achievement: Columbus, Ohio to Spend $521 Million on School Construction and Renovation


Last year, in Columbus, Ohio, residents took responsibility for the condition of their school buildings upon themselves when they voted to approve a plan that would modernize 38 Columbus public school buildings over the next seven years. Under the plan, 26 new schools will be built, 12 will be renovated, and two schools will be closed. Planning and work is also beginning on much-needed repairs to over 50 school buildings. In total, the city has pledged to invest $521 million over the next seven years in a move that will benefit more than 17,000 students.

In an effort to build support for the project and involve the communities in its planning stages, has created a community guide to the Columbus public schools “Building a Legacy of Achievement.” The guidebook contains information on future planning sessions and provides contact information for those individuals and businesses that want to get involved. It also links to information on the facility master plan, including enrollment projections and construction timelines.

The complete guidebook is available at:


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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.