Clay Davis and Robert Thornton, Partners & Architects, contribute their thoughts about school construction
Originally printed in The Business Journal on March 5, 2021 by Frank Lopez
We are nearing the one-year mark since the Coronavirus halted the U.S. economy.
One of the more unfortunate situations to arise out of the disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic is the shuttering of schools and colleges across the country.
According to a 2020 report from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, delaying schools reopening until 2021 could lead to reductions in lifetime earnings of 1.6%, 3.3%, and 3.0% for white, Black, and Hispanic students, respectively, over a 40-year working life.
The school closures also prevented parents and caregivers, including potentially 30% of health care workers, from fully returning to work.
Before the onset of the pandemic, school construction in the Central Valley had been moving along with projects including the Matilda Torres High School in Madera, a project on the grounds of the former Fresno County Juvenile Hall, Janet Young Elementary in Clovis, a new elementary school in Lemoore and Sequoia High School in Visalia.
Even with the recent activity in school construction, permitting for commercial building has seen a significant drop.
According to the Construction Monitor, from January 2021 to March, commercial permitting has totaled 164 permits with a $124,042,123 value for the Central San Joaquin Valley.
During that same time span in 2020, a total of 269 commercial permits were issued with a total value of $138,230,524.
Even with a drop in commercial activity, since construction was considered an essential industry, contractors, builders, as well as engineers and designers in the Central Valley have been busy building and designing new schools as well as medical training facilities.
Robert Thornton, partner and architect at TETER, said that the state has seen a decreasing population, especially in school aged children, but the Central Valley has generally bucked that curve.
“It’s been really hard this last year and half to accurately track what’s happening because most school districts saw a huge drop in their enrollment during Covid. As kids migrate back into the school system, the districts will be able to see the ongoing growth and the need for more schools.” – Thornton said.