More than half the nation's public schools need to be repaired, renovated or modernized, a survey released Thursday found.
Getting these schools in good condition would cost about $197 billion, the National Center for Education Statistics said. That's $4.5 million per school, on average.
The survey found that on average main school buildings were 44 years old. Schools that underwent a major renovation had the work done on average 12 years ago. Building replacements or additions were on average 16 years old.
There were signs of upgrades, however, in some schools. Seventeen percent of public schools had major repairs, renovations or modernization work underway, while nearly 40 percent had these types of improvements planned in the next two years.
School construction projects are funded in a variety of ways, depending on the state and locality. Many school districts have had to delay maintenance and construction projects because of slashed budgets during tough economic times. Even as states' revenues are rebounding, officials from the National School Boards Association said many states are still focused on other priorities.
Reggie Felton, interim associate executive director at the National School Boards Association, said there's a strong desire to provide modern facilities that support learning and are environmentally friendly even with limited resources. He said districts are looking for innovative ways to save money for these types of projects such as by sharing libraries or athletic fields.