More than 6.2 million students attend K-12 public schools in California, but the conditions of the classrooms they sit in, playgrounds they run on and cafeterias they eat in are largely unknown. Unlike 22 other states in the country, California does not have a statewide inventory of its public school facilities.
Creating a statewide inventory of public school facilities was among several recommendations made in a state-commissioned report released last week. The report [PDF], by UC Berkeley’s Center for Cities & Schools, highlighted an issue with which state and school officials have long grappled: How do we know the facility needs of our nearly 10,000 public schools?
“If the governor issued an executive order to improve the 100 worst-condition school buildings, no one could really bring him the list,” said Jeffrey Vincent, lead author of the report and deputy director of the center. “The state’s almost shooting in the dark, frankly.”
By considering projected K-12 enrollment and existing facilities’ modernization and maintenance needs, Vincent found that California schools will need $117 billion and policy changes over the next decade to ensure their facilities are safe, modern, equitable and sustainable learning environments. In order to be strategic with those funds, he said, California must be able to identify what and where the facilities needs are.