ERIC Number: ED445856
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2000
Trends and Issues Affecting School Facilities in Rural America: Challenges and Opportunities for Action.
Dewees, Sarah; Earthman, Glen
School facilities needs in rural America and the means to meet them are affected by rural population trends, building inadequacies and obsolescence, and financial problems. Overall, America's schools have seen increased public school enrollments since the mid-1980s, but rural enrollments have declined, particularly in communities with fewer than 2,500 inhabitants. However, rural population trends vary greatly across and within states. Long-term underinvestment in school facilities has left a legacy of crumbling school buildings in many communities. In 1996, 52 percent of rural schools had at least one inadequate building feature, and 54 percent had at least one unsatisfactory environmental factor. In addition, older rural schools had great needs to improve energy efficiency, upgrade the building infrastructure that supports new technology systems, provide flexible spaces to accommodate new teaching formats and expanded school services, and meet access requirements for individuals with disabilities. Because rural districts have lower enrollments, inadequate tax bases, and regulatory limits to their debt, they often cannot generate the revenues required to build school facilities. In addition, many have higher poverty levels and less ability to support local bond initiatives. Practical strategies for funding rural schools include state capital funding, state building authorities, interest-free or tax-credit bonds, converting vacant buildings, and increasing support through lobbying and public awareness campaigns. (Contains 30 references.) (SV)
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Chapter 1 in: Improving Rural School Facilities: Design, Construction, Finance, and Public Support; see RC 022 640.