School districts struggling to maintain and repair facilities

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

More than one-third of Valley school districts report that their facilities are in worse shape today than they were one year ago, according to a study conducted by CBS 5 Investigates.

"There are school districts with buildings as old as 1885," said Jill Barragan, who is the president-elect of the Arizona Association of School Business Officials.

Barragan says that although the oldest buildings are primarily used for history lessons, lots of districts have facilities that were built in the 1950's and are in need of repairs or replacement. And it's not just the buildings.

"Lots of districts still haven't been able to adopt a new curriculum in the last five, 10, 12 years," said Barragan.

The problem comes down to budget cuts. In 2009, state lawmakers slashed the amount of money public school districts receive for capital expenses. Although the recession is over, the budgets have not been restored. At this point, education leaders estimate that districts are owed roughly $2 billion.

"We are down about $15 million a year from the state. That's the equivalent of a new school a year," said Danielle Airey, who is the chief communications officer for the Peoria Unified School District, which is a district that needs new schools to keep up with growth.

"We have aging facilities all over our district. Our district has been here longer than Arizona has been a state," said Airey.

But roughly 50 percent of the districts that responded to a questionnaire from CBS 5 Investigates reported that their facilities are in better shape than they were last year. Ten percent reported their facilities as being the same as last year. While 35% reported their facilities are in worse shape.

Most districts that stated they are in better condition credited support from their local community, rather than financial help from the state.

"So, any support we're getting is typically going to be from the community via a bond or capital override," said Barragan.

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Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards , two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. Last fall, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle, in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is a graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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