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insulation systems on school buildings is key to making a district’s investment last. Below, a maintenance worker repairs flashing adhesives on a school roof, which help seal the roof and prevent water leaks.
Before windows were replaced at the Harmony School in Bloomington, Ind.
After the windows were installed. Marvin Windows and Doors made sure the new and functional windows were also aesthetically pleasing, matching the school’s building style.

Administrators budgeting for construction have the tools and access to ensure their buildings’ shells—the roofs, windows and insulation—are energy-efficient and easy to maintain. There are many issues to consider—here are some guidelines.

Steve Green, maintenance supervisor at the New Albany-Floyd Consolidated School Corporation in Indiana, reviews a Grainger catalog looking for products to purchase online.

When Boles ISD needed a new science building in 2011 for its rapidly growing high school in rural Quinlan, Texas, district leaders realized they couldn’t afford to build the lab they wanted. Although the district, 35 miles east of Dallas, received a $410,000 grant from the Texas Education Agency, it wasn’t enough to build the project according to architects’ plans.

While co-op contracts save significant staff time, districts must still select contracts and manage interaction with vendors. In rural district Boles ISD, Superintendent Graham Sweeney manages vendor selection and purchasing. But in larger districts, multiple levels of personnel get involved.

A synthetic field at Asbury Park High School at Asbury Park Public Schools in New Jersey, by FieldTurf, is one of various fields that needs regular maintenance and care.

Installing a synthetic-surface athletic field can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Any school district that invests in one and then treats it as a maintenance-free luxury may end up spending a lot more money on repairs and replacements.

There are few universal answers to maintaining natural-grass athletic fields. The specifics and the costs vary widely based on region, altitude, frequency of use and the type of grass under the cleats.

Teacher Lora Sprigings’ (center) AP geography classes are part of the gradual adoption of e-textbooks by Community Unit School District 300 in the Chicago suburbs.
Collier County Schools in Florida saw science scores increase after adopting Discovery Education’s K8 Science Techbook.
Interactivity is a key feature of the latest digital platforms, including Collections,” an ELA textbook by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Discovery Education, with products like its digital Math techbook, is a newcomer to the textbook market.

A new wave of e-textbooks is giving students more than just words and a few hotlinks on a digital page. Publishers over the last few years have been adding video, interactive maps and gamified quizzes designed to engage students more deeply in their learning.

Architects who built a new El Dorado High School in Arkansas in 2011 realized using wood, instead of steel, in the construction of the hallways could save the district millions of dollars.
Wood also was used in El Dorado High School's 450-seat theater.
Students and community members recently celebrate the groundbreaking of a new elementary school in the Northwest Community School District in Jackson, Mich., where no construction bonds had been passed for four decades.
Carmichaels Junior/Senior High School in Pennsylvania will have energy-efficient lighting and heating after this year’s renovations and expansion.
The Delmar Fieldhouse in Houston ISD was recently demolished to make way for new construction under a $1.89 billion school construction bond.
A crew at Worthing High School in Houston ISD begins work on a new school under a construction bond that covers 40 projects districtwide.

Safety, flexibility and energy efficiency are the forces driving new school construction as administrations create buildings to rival college facilities to prepare students for the technology-driven world they will find in college and the workforce.

With new, smarter building technology to control energy use, school leaders can reduce their carbon footprint and use the money saved to fund projects that may have suffered from budget cuts. U.S. schools spend more on energy than they do “on computers and textbooks combined,” according to a past report by Energy Star.

“As much as 30 percent of a district’s total energy is used inefficiently or unnecessarily,” the report states.

A tornado safe room under construction in Moore, Oklahoma.

Tornadoes sweeping through parts of the nation and destroying schools are leading district leaders to create “safe rooms” for increased protection.

In May 2013, Moore, Okla., was hit by a tornado that destroyed two elementary schools and killed seven students. Moore Public Schools is rebuilding the schools with four safe rooms designed to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) criteria to provide protection during tornadoes.

Sitka School District in Alaska serves pita pockets with tasty fillings.
Examples of several healthy salads served at Clovis USD in California.
At Waukon High School in the Allamakee Community School District in Iowa, students can choose from a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Teriyaki coho salmon skewers in Alaska. Red chile beef enchiladas in New Mexico. And Vietnamese pho soup in California. Inspired by new nutrition rules, districts are now offering these and other meals in hopes of getting students to eat healthier by appealing to their taste buds.