NC schools’ $12.7B in facility needs left out as Build Back Better plan slashes funding

North Carolina news


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The original version of President Biden’s Build Back Better infrastructure plan included $100 billion to modernize schools. That investment was scrapped during negotiations leaving states and schools to look for funding on their own.

The Tar Heel state could have made use of the investments. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction reported about $12.8 billion was needed in facility repairs. It’s almost $5 billion more than the needs in the previous 2015-16 report.

Schools around the Triangle had millions of dollars worth of needs with:

  • $1.1 billion needed in Wake County,
  • $589 million needed in Cumberland County,
  • $489 million needed in Durham County.

DPI’s Five-Year K-12 Facility Needs Report noted renovations of existing buildings were responsible for 44 percent of the need. It said much of the costs were a result of deferred maintenance.

Broken down by grade level, elementary schools were the most in need with $2.2 billion needed in repairs according to the report. High schools were in need of $1.9 billion in renovations.

Plumbing, HVAC and electrical needs accounted for almost a quarter of needed renovations at $1.4 billion.

Exterior improvements like roof and window replacements made up 14 percent of costs at $781 million worth of repairs needed. The biggest ticket item was in heating and air conditioning renovations.

DPI also reported it would need 131 new schools in the next five years. It would end up costing about $4.8 billion to construct those schools, too. It said it wouldn’t all have to be built right away, but The Facility Needs Survey, found 83 were needed right away and 48 could wait for the next three to five years.

The Triangle’s largest counties, Wake, Durham and Cumberland, were identified as some of the places with the highest needs for new schools with costs totaling $2.1 billion.

  • Wake County: $1,104,742,263,
  • Durham County: $458,455,519,
  • Cumberland County: $569,405,498.

It’s unclear how much of the once-proposed $100 billion school infrastructure investment in the Build Back Better plan could have gone to North Carolina. For now, it will again be left in the hands of the state to come up with answers to its $12.8 billion facility needs.

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