Policy & Funding

Report: Federally Impacted Schools Need $4.2 Billion in Construction

Federally impacted school districts are facing more than $4.2 billion in pressing construction needs, according to a new survey from the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS).

Federally impacted school districts are those that include nontaxable federal property, such as part of a military installation, Native American land or low-income housing. That federal land lowers the districts' assessed land value and, thus, reduces their ability to raise funds through bonds, the way most schools finance construction.

Twenty-six percent of respondents said their buildings were more than 80 years old, and nearly two-thirds, 65 percent, rated the overall condition of their facilities as poor or fair. Construction needs cited by respondents included lead and mold abatement, increased building capacity and upgrades to leaky roofs, HVAC systems and plumbing systems, electrical issues, boilers and old technology.

"The total estimated cost to address pressing construction needs in these school districts exceeds $4.2 billion, with the estimated cost of all capital construction needs topping $13 billion," according to a NAFIS news release. "Yet Congress only appropriated $17.4 million in construction funding for the Impact Aid Construction line item in Fiscal Year 2017. What's more, 82 percent of respondents cited lack of funds as a reason to defer capital construction projects, and 83 percent of respondents said they could start their most pressing capital project within a year if funds were available."

"The condition of facilities at many federally impacted school districts is dire," said NAFIS Executive Director Hilary Goldmann, in a prepared statement. "We are talking about emergency repairs for health and safety — like roof and foundation maintenance, technology upgrades, asbestos abatement and more. The federal government must meet its responsibility to federally impacted schools and pay its share so school facilities are modernized and safe."

For more information, visit nafisdc.org.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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