A message from Superintendent Charles Smialek, Ph.D.
March 11, 2019
We continue to progress through our schedule of Master Planning for Strategic Consolidation meetings. Tonight, we meet at Hillside Middle School at 6:30 pm to gather more input from all who attend.
As we move toward finishing this phase of planning, I will periodically use this forum to summarize research relevant to the impact of constructing new schools. Similar to our use of research-based practices in our efforts to improve instruction and school climate, we will work to implement data-based decision making into our consolidation planning.
Neilson and Zimmerman (2011) studied the effects of a 15-year, $1.4 billion construction project in an urban school district serving students of low socio-economic status and published their analysis in their article, “The Effect of School Construction on Test Scores, School Enrollment, and Home Prices.”
Though student performance in math remained unchanged, the authors explained, “We find strong evidence that the school construction program led to sustained gains in reading scores for elementary and middle school students.”
They further concluded that housing prices and district enrollment both increased slightly after new schools opened. The authors summarized their findings in this way: “Taken together, our student outcome, home price, and enrollment results suggest that families, and in particular families with children, place a high value on school infrastructure investment.”
After establishing that school construction yielded these gains, Neilson and Zimmerman sought to better understand the specific cause of the improvements they found. They surveyed principals who worked in the district and reported, “Principals agreed that the school construction project raised motivation at home and at school. All of the surveyed principals reported moderate to large effects of school construction on parent involvement, and nine of the ten reported large effects on student motivation. All principals reported moderate or large effects on teacher motivation.”
Our efforts to consolidate the number of schools we operate through the construction of new facilities will depend upon our ability to gain public support for a bond issue or other source of revenue. Neilson and Zimmerman’s study is one of multiple that we will feature to document the importance of this investment.
Have a great week!