Is This a Good Time to Start New School Facility Projects?

By David Walrath, CASH Legislative Advocate

Now that the State Budget process is concluded and schools were protected from immediate deep funding cuts, is this a good time for school districts and county offices of education to initiate school facility projects?

For many school districts the threat of deep operational cuts, laying off teachers and classified personnel, and planning on how to reopen schools were challenges that appropriately took a much higher priority than initiating new school facility projects. Because deep and immediate cuts with associated deep and immediate layoffs appear to be avoided for this year, what are factors that should be considered for districts that are financially able to initiate new projects in new construction, modernization, repair and major maintenance?

The following are some suggested points for consideration:

  • Borrowing costs are significantly lower now than they were a year ago and most likely will continue to be low for the next 12 to 18 months.
  • Because of the slow-down in commercial, industrial and residential new construction, more skilled workers are becoming available now than were available six months ago.
  • Construction costs have begun to flatten and probably will not escalate significantly for the next 12 to 18 months.

Every school district and county office of education has their own unique situation and school facility needs. For those fortunate to have capital resources, beginning new construction, modernization, repair and major maintenance projects could be a long-term cost-effective decision.


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