BOULDER, CO (April 20, 2023)—State and local governments invest a great deal in the infrastructure of the nearly 100,000 schools across the U.S., encompassing about 8.1 billion gross square feet of buildings. Yet recent years have seen a recognition that expanded federal funding will be needed to address shortfalls and inequities.
To that end, the Urban Institute recently released Assessing the National Landscape of Capital Expenditures for Public School Districts, which analyzes equity patterns of school capital investment. In a review, Jeffrey M. Vincent of the University of California, Berkeley concludes that the report’s findings and recommendations are strong and well-supported.
The report relies primarily on school district annual capital outlay data reported in the U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core of Data. It also examines which state policies may promote more progressive investment patterns.
Confirming other studies, the report finds that school district capital expenditures vary from year to year and from state to state, that each state has a unique approach and mix of policies governing state support for local capital outlay, and that capital outlay is rarely equal or progressive. The report also finds that states with policies that aim to equalize capital spending are more likely to provide capital outlays for students from low-income backgrounds that are equal to or greater than outlays in wealthier communities.
These findings are all well-supported, and the report’s recommendations, including increasing funding, accounting for student economic need, and continuing assessment of building quality, provide useful insights for state and federal policy that will promote more progressive capital spending.
Find the review, by Jeffrey M. Vincent, at:
Find Assessing the National Landscape of Capital Expenditures for Public School Districts, written by Kristin Blagg, Fanny Terrones, and Victoria Nelson and published by the Urban Institute, at: