New report showcases school facility and health connection

In their report, California’s K-12 Educational Infrastructure Investments: Leveraging the State’s Role for Quality School Facilities in Sustainable Communities, UC Berkeley’s Center for Cities and Schools credits state and local governments for over a decade of investment that has seen California jump from 36th to 6th in the nation in annual per student spending on school facilities.  This investment helped address the challenges of aging buildings and a growing population.

Despite recent successes, the report argues, challenges remain.  Funding from the last school facilities bond (2006) is quickly running out, yet facilities are still aging and enrolment is still growing. The need to invest in school facilities continues.  Furthermore, the past decade of investment hasn’t benefited all communities, with largely low–income districts still facing tremendous need.  Finally, the state’s increased priority on sustainability and climate change has largely left K-12 facilities out of planning for sustainable communities.

Looking forward, the report makes several recommendations on how continued state investment can address these remaining challenges and help ensure California is creating healthy learning environments for students, teachers, and staff.  Some of the key opportunities highlighted in the report include:

  • Prioritizing funding for schools with the most need;
  • Diversifying sources of funding for school facility funding;
  • Aligning local land-use and transportation planning for sustainable communities with school construction and expansion planning;
  • Incorporating green building as much as possible to align with the state’s sustainability and climate change goals;
  • Developing broader mechanisms of public accountability

RAMP is following this work closely as the communities that are in most need of improved school facilities are the same communities that disproportionately suffer from asthma.  RAMP will particularly engage in and keep our partners updated on policy efforts to ensure need is a key factor in determining state’s investment in school facilities.