Time to Replace and Repair

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

`WOLVES at the Schoolhouse Door: An Investigation of the Condition of Public School Buildings,'' a report by the Education Writers Association released recently in Washington, indicates why the nation needs new schools, more schools, and more innovative designs, uses, and financing for school buildings: Schools are wearing out. Of the schools in use today, 20 percent are older than 50 years, and 61 percent were built during the 1950s and '60s, when many schools were put up quickly and constructed to last only 30 years.

School programs require more space. Recent school programs, many of them mandated (such as special education classes) often need more space than typical classrooms provide. In addition, state and local requirements to reduce class size and add special mathematics and science classes boost the number of classrooms needed in schools that were built to accommodate 30 or more children in each classroom.

Schools need a fairy godmother. An estimated $84 billion is needed nationwide to build new schools or modernize old ones. Some $41 billion is needed for maintenance and repairs.

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