As we begin 2011, a number of promising signs signal that the worst may be behind us. Among them: the economy is steadily improving, the employment picture has stabilized, and consumers are feeling positive enough to spend more on the things that matter — including education.
While we are by no means out of the woods yet, many education institutions across the country are having success passing significant bond issues for new facilities construction, improving and adding to existing buildings, and other capital expenditures. Among the largest bond issues passed by school districts in 2010 ($ millions):
1. Albuquerque (N.M.) School District: $617
2. Northside (Texas) Independent School District: $535
3. San Antonio (Texas) Independent School District: $515
4. Katy (Texas) Independent School District: $459
5. West Contra Costa (Calif.) Unified School District: $380
6. Tulsa (OK) School District: $354
7. Mount Diablo (Calif.) Unified School District: $348
8. San Marcos (Calif.) Unified School District: $287
9. Fresno (Calif.) Unified School District: $280
10. Seattle (WA) School District: $270
Certain areas of the country experienced more funding activity than others. For example, school districts in California and Texas accounted for seven of the 10 largest bond issues passed. But although capital funding issues had some success for various education institutions in 2010, general operating budgets continued to suffer — and will continue to be under pressure this year. Education institutions are facing significant budgetary pressures that see little sign of improving soon, especially as ARRA funding comes to a close.
There are, however, steps education institutions can take to navigate these challenging times. This is the focus of "Outlook 2011," which looks at what's ahead for schools and universities in the new year and beyond. From funding and budgetary concerns, to security and technology demands, to construction and sustainability initiatives, "Outlook 2011" offers valuable insight that can better prepare you and your institution for what promises to be another challenging year.