Each year, the world evolves, but for education institutions, the cyclical nature of the school calendar means administrators come up against the same issues and challenges again and again.
In 2008, schools and universities must deal with most of the same facility issues that they have addressed in some fashion before — how to provide safe and healthful environments conducive to learning in a cost-effective manner.
It's not so easy when the details come into play: budget constraints, rising costs, environmental and health concerns, insufficient space, outdated facilities, fluctuating student numbers, security requirements, technological advances rendering existing equipment and programs obsolete.
The new year will be different in some respects. Voters will choose a new president in 2008, and the issue of reforming and improving education is likely to get some attention from the presidential candidates.
They will get a push from Strong American Schools, an advocacy group backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Foundation. The group's goal is to make sure education is a top priority in the 2008 presidential election.
Some cynical educators dissatisfied with previous national attention in the form of the No Child Left Behind Act might hope that Congress and the federal government would not shine their spotlight on schools.
Efforts to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind law stalled in Congress in 2007, but lawmakers are expected to take up the issue in 2008, and, depending on one's view of the law, refine and improve it, or fix it.
Following is an analysis of key issues that will impact education institutions in 2008 and beyond, as well as insight into how school and university administrators can best prepare for what lay ahead.