NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Private Sector Coming To The Assistance Of Aging Schools

January 25, 2001

Voters in many communities have become reluctant to approve bond issues to build or renovate substandard schools. In fact, just 25 percent of the nation's adult population has children of school age.

So private companies in some areas are teaming up with school districts to finance new buildings and even laptops.

  • Honeywell Inc. raised money on Wall Street to put up an $83 million high school for the city of Niagara Falls, N.Y., to lease -- relieving the city of the need to increase taxes or debt.
  • School officials in Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C., are considering similar projects.
  • In New York City, a private group called the Schoolhouse Foundation has raised $200 million from private bond issues to build schools -- and other New York cities, such as Buffalo, Ithaca and Corning are considering similar plans.
  • A city that needs a new school normally goes to the voters for permission to issue a 30-year bond to pay for it -- a route that is now closed to many communities due to dwindling public support.

The General Accounting Office in 1999 estimated the cost of renovating the nation's schools at $112 billion -- but that does not include about $100 billion to provide schools with Internet access.

Source: Kate Zernike, "With Private Help, a Public School and No New Levies," New York Times, January 24, 2001.


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