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Policy Statement 452 - Investing In America's Schools


Approved by the Infrastructure and Research Policy Committee on March 15, 2018
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on May 6, 2018
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 13, 2018


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports investments in public school construction, maintenance, modernization, and upgrades to address safety and resiliency to all hazards.

School planning, design, construction, and operation must include resiliency and sustainability. These considerations should be supplemented by research and development for construction methods and design to meet the rapidly changing teaching environment including safety, information technology, energy efficiency, sustainability and remote teaching and activities. The nation's engineering community needs to be included as an active partner.  

Governments are encouraged to explore alternative financing including lease financing, and public-private partnerships which can provide a combination of financing/ownership/use arrangements to facilitate construction. ASCE also supports federal programs to reduce school bond interest rates.


Public schools are critical elements of our nation's infrastructure. A nationwide effort needs to be initiated to anticipate and improve adaptability of the nation's existing and future school infrastructure, including regular rehabilitation and upgrades. The federal government has not assessed the condition of America's schools since 1999, when it estimated that $127 billion was needed to bring facilities into a good condition. ASCE's 2017 Infrastructure Report Card assessed schools with a D+ grade and estimated that the investment needed to modernize and maintain the nation's schools is at least $380 billion. 


Quality education, obtained in a safe environment, is essential for the continued competitiveness and viability of our nation. The neglect of public school buildings and their inability to support education programs erodes the American our society's ability to compete in a global-market. School facilities that meet modern safety standards and the evolving needs of a school population are essential. The need to rapidly re-open schools is widely recognized by the emergency management community as a critical milestone for recovery following a catastrophic event.  Designing, constructing and retrofitting school buildings and their infrastructure to meet or exceed the most recent building codes and standards and to specifically address local hazards is the best way to assure a safe environment for quality education. 

ASCE Policy Statement 452
First Approved in 1997