Advances in Public Education Science


From an article in the March issue of Governing magazine, on why school districts tend to like building new schools, often far from the students who will be attending them:

Ohio is four years into a massive $10.5 billion school-building
program, which is expected to leave very few communities untouched.
For many school districts, the prospect of millions of dollars in
state aid has been enormously appealing; faced with the question of
whether to renovate existing schools, or to abandon them and build
anew--often out on the edge of town--they're opting for the new.
There's a reason for this, and that's where [Henry] Linn comes in. A half-
century ago, the Columbia University education professor wrote an
article for a trade magazine, American School and University, in which
he suggested that if the cost of renovating a school was more than
half what it cost to build new, school districts should swallow the
extra expense and build new. It's unclear how Linn arrived at this
disdain for the old, but until recently, his thinking appeared to hold
the force of scripture within school facilities circles. "If you track
the literature," says Royce Yeater, the Midwest director for the
National Trust for Historic Preservation, "it starts to appear in
footnotes, then one study refers back to another…. But still, it all
comes back to one man's opinion. If you look at the original article,
there's no studies, there's no nothin' behind this. It is clearly an
old wives' tale."