Editor's Note (The View From Here)

Problem Solved?

In my library is a copy of an old book, Planning Schools for Tomorrow: The Issues Involved. If I removed the reference to the year (which was 1942), you would think it was written yesterday. When is the last time you heard someone say, “Nothing seems more certain than the fact that the good old days are gone,” or that they were “worried about budget deficits caused by a sagging economy”? The issues they faced in 1942 were not so different than the issues we face today.

The same is true of their goals: “1) A full program of education adapted to the capacities and interests of all the individuals whom the schools should serve. 2) Carefully selected teachers, supervisors, administrators and specialists such as nurses, physicians, dentists, psychiatrists, librarians, etc., who are competent, well-prepared, and interested in the development of community life. 3) Safe and sanitary school buildings, adapted to the education experiences and services to be offered, and adequate grounds and suitable equipment and instructional materials. 4) An effective State and local organization, coordinated with other State and local educational and social agencies, which make possible the efficient offering of needed educational services. Advisory service from the Federal Government should be available. 5) Adequate and joint support by the local, State and Federal Governments.”

When it came to facilities, the conversation was about accessibility; adequacy with respect to needed services; adequacy with respect to size; arrangement; utilization; possibility of rearrangement; and the possibility of expansion — conversations we are still having nearly 75 years later.

Adequate funding for education was — and still is — a concern. During the year that ended June 30, 1940, the U.S. spent approximately $2.7 billion for public elementary, secondary and higher education. The book says, “To offer the education program needed in this country would require a minimum expenditure of approximately 5 billion dollars a year for regular current expenses. An additional 5 billion dollars, at least, is needed for the repair of old, and the construction of new, school buildings.” The concern remains the same, but the dollars needed and being spent have increased.

The projected expenditures for higher education total more than $499 billion; and according to the CP&M research on campus construction, more than $11.6 billion in construction was completed in 2015 (see page 18 for details). While increased funding may have improved some things, we still have a long way to go. Seventy-five years later and the issues still remain the same!

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of College Planning & Management.

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