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ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012

Educational Equity in Rural Schools 2003). When one considers the above in light of earlier information that fewer rural than urban school districts report plans to upgrade or build facilities (National Center for Education Statistics, 2000; Simpson, 2011), there is evidence of a need to identify the specific rural districts that should plan for renovation or construction. Regardless of the state in which schools are located, policies regarding consolidation and construction on the state level have direct impact on rural districts (Lawrence, 2001). However, there is a great need for accuracy in projecting population trends and building needs, as deferred maintenance cannot linger (Watts Hull, 2009). Non-critical maintenance projects, the crux of deferred maintenance, are performed only to the extent that funding constraints permit on an annual basis. Moreover, non-critical maintenance projects are deferred to a future period when they cannot be funded from a given school’s budget for the year. Deferring any type of maintenance can lead to larger problems than the original maintenance that was required (Montgomery, 2010), which has been shown to have “devastating effects on systems such as air conditioning and heating, roofing, plumbing, and electrical systems” (Sheets, 2009, p. 101). According to Filardo, Bernstein, and Eisenbrey (2011), the accumulated backlog of deferred maintenance and repair amounts to at least $270 billion, even by conservative estimates. Including the cost to make current school structures more environmentally efficient and using less conservative assumptions—the costs could exceed $500 billion to complete the needed improvements to buildings and systems. Review of School Building Capacity Research In order to accurately determine the capacity of school buildings, several factors must be considered. Capacity can be classified in many ways, including functional capacity – the number of students that can be housed in a building without overcrowding, maximum capacity – the absolute upper bound for the number of students a building can contain, and practical capacity – the number of students that can be effectively educated given the school’s curriculum design. No matter the original definition of capacity, Tanner and Lackney (2006) charge that what we know about capacity must continue to be challenged through ongoing research. Capacity formulas, they assert, are vulnerable to subjective variables included in the original methods of calculation (Tanner & Lackney, 2006). The original intention of measuring capacity also determines to a large extent the method of measurement that is used. These capacity definitions are vital to the analysis of building needs projections and conditions. Functional capacity. The determination of functional capacity is calculated in order to provide insight into the appropriateness of the school building to facilitate its educational curriculum (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1999). According to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (2005), space must be made available to adequately support effective teaching and meaningful learning. DeJong and Craig (2000) address functional capacity as taking program issues into account when designing educational facilities. They further state, however, that adjustments to the capacity assessment must necessarily be made when considering certain common sense issues such as teacher preparation areas, storage, and offices that can skew the results to provide lower capacity levels than might reasonably be possible (DeJong & Craig, 2000). Many capacity calculations therefore address maximum capacity in lieu of functional capacity, opting for an outside range of values to determine appropriate numbers for addressing both overcrowding and under-utilization of school buildings. December 2012 / ACEF 18


ACEF Journal Vol 3 Issue 1 December 2012
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