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Effects of Energy Needs and Expenditures on U.S. Public Schools
NCES: 2003018
June 2003

District Preparedness for Immediate and Future Energy Needs

In addition to questioning districts about actions taken in the past, the survey asked respondents to indicate the degree to which they believed their districts were prepared for future energy needs. Responses to these questions help answer questions such as the following:

  • How successful did district respondents feel their districts had been at reducing their energy usage or energy expenditures?

  • To what extent did district respondents feel their districts faced immediate or long-term energy problems? How much did they think increased future energy costs threatened their districts? Did these perceptions vary by district characteristics?

The questionnaire included a series of questions asking respondents the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with five statements. The statements focused on the success of district efforts to reduce energy usage and cost per unit of energy, immediate and long-term energy problems faced by the district, and the threat to district funding posed by future increases in energy costs.

First, respondents were asked how much they agreed or disagreed with the statement "Our district has successfully reduced energy usage." Overall, 42 percent of districts agreed or strongly agreed with this statement (Table 7). Respondents from small districts were less likely to agree or strongly agree than respondents from either midsized or large districts (37 versus 53 and 63 percent, respectively). The likelihood that respondents agreed or strongly agreed also varied by region: 53 percent of respondents from districts in the Northeast expressed this view, compared with 34 percent of respondents from districts in the West.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents overall agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "Our district has successfully reduced the cost per unit of energy" (Table 8). Respondents from suburban school districts (35 percent) were more likely to express this opinion than were respondents from urban districts (17 percent).

The likelihood that respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement also varied by region. A higher proportion of respondents from districts in the Northeast (44 percent) than respondents from districts in the Southeast (22 percent) or West (15 percent) thought that their districts had successfully reduced the cost per unit of energy. Also, the proportion of respondents from districts in the West who agreed or strongly agreed with the statement was lower than the proportion of respondents from districts in the Central region (34 percent) who expressed this view.

The likelihood that respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their districts had successfully reduced the cost per unit of energy varied by overall FY 01 budget per pupil. Twenty-two percent of respondents from districts with low budgets per pupil and 27 percent of respondents from districts with mid-level budgets per pupil agreed or strongly agreed, compared with 39 percent of respondents from districts with high budgets per pupil.

Next, respondents were asked to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with the statement "Our district has an immediate energy problem." Nineteen percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with this statement (Table 9). The likelihood that respondents indicated that a problem existed was greater among large districts (33 percent) than among small or midsized districts (18 and 21 percent, respectively).

Respondents from districts with sufficient funds to cover their FY 01 energy expenditures were less likely than respondents from districts without sufficient funds (14 versus 23 percent) to agree or strongly agree with the statement.

Respondents also were asked how much they agreed or disagreed with the statement "Our district has a long-term energy problem." Overall, 37 percent of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed with this statement (Table 10). Nearly half (49 percent) of respondents from large districts expressed this view, compared with 37 percent of the respondents from small districts and 34 percent of respondents from midsized districts. Respondents from districts in the West (44 percent) were more likely than respondents from districts in the Southeast (27 percent) to believe that there were long-term problems. Forty-two percent of respondents from districts with insufficient FY 01 energy budgets, compared with 29 percent of respondents from districts with sufficient FY 01 energy budgets, agreed or strongly agreed that their districts had long-term energy problems.

The final statement presented to respondents asked about the effects of hypothetical increases in energy costs on the allocation of district funds. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of district respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "Future increases in energy costs pose a major threat to the allocation of district funds to essential areas such as student instruction" (Table 11).

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