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District Buying Power: Spending on Construction and Renovation

Thirty-seven percent of K12 districts plan to purchase construction- and renovation-related products and services.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the fifth and final article on district spending from an independent research study commissioned by District Administration last year. The previous reports focused on decision-making processes, purchasing technology and purchasing curriculum in the September through November 2007 issues, and buying security products and services in February 2008.


AS THE MAGAZINE OF EDUCATION leadership for top-level decision makers in K12 education, District Administration reaches key executives in virtually every school district in the United States, including superintendents, business officers, technology managers, curriculum directors, library/media center directors and funding administrators. No one is better qualified to comment on district spending than readers of this magazine.

While District Administration publishes annual spending reports on school markets, last year was diff erent since we commissioned the independent research organization Martin Akel & Associates to conduct an extensive buying survey of our readers. Random samples of subscribers were drawn from districts across the country, and each individual received a questionnaire on purchasing activities and expenditures over a four-year period. Although the information focused on the 2006-2007 academic year, the researchers also compiled trend data for the two preceding years and projections for the two succeeding years.

The study found that our readers are heavily involved in brand and product decisions. Virtually all DA readers-97 percent-have leadership responsibilities in purchasing products and services, and 83 percent are involved in the final decisions. Nine out of ten serve as opinion leaders, sought out by others and influencing them in making purchases; nine of ten-93 percent-are involved with teams/committees that determine purchases for their districts; and threequarters-72 percent-have selection team management responsibilities. The readership survey projected that the total 2006-2007 expenditures for purchasing goods and services across nearly 15,000 districts reached by District Administration magazine is $33.3 billion, which represents an enormous market. This article looks at spending for construction and renovation projects.


U.S. districts spent $23.77 billion in 2006-2007 on construction and renovation projects. Expenditures included contractor services, building materials, flooring, windows, and heating/ventilating/air conditioning (HVAC) equipment. DA readers were asked to indicate the scope of construction and renovation projects in their districts. The results are summarized below.


Subscribers were asked to identify recent construction/renovation projects in their districts and plans for the near future. Examples include upgrading electrical services, renovating auditoriums, gyms and kitchens, installing artificial turf and repaving parking lots, and constructing additions, learning centers and new schools. Among the examples of projects reported, one district was constructing three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school simultaneously; another was building fourteen new schools; and a third plans to construct a new school annually for the next fifteen years.


Thirty-seven percent of K12 districts plan to purchase construction-and renovation-related products and services. Renovation projects are largely driven by the need to upgrade aging facilities, although half are driven by security concerns, and affect a wide range of applications, from classrooms and science/ computer labs to athletic facilities. School construction and renovation is therefore a major interest area for District Administration readers, who need to know design strategies, examples of success and innovation-including "green" solutions-funding options, and updates on products and services. We are committed to equipping you with this information through the news, features and departments in DA magazine, our Web site and online K12 products database, and our expanding coverage of school construction and renovation.

Odvard Egil Dyrli,, is editor-in-chief of District Administration and emeritus professor of education at the University of Connecticut.