Q: I’m freaking out about our school business. It was a major revenue source and now we see nothing in the pipeline. Are others seeing the same?
A: Unfortunately, in K-12, yes. The problem is this: in the U.S., property taxes fund both new construction and improvement and renovations for schools. With so many mortgages in trouble and foreclosures, public school districts are scared to death to issue bonds or even ask for a vote on new spending. As I mentioned in a recent blog, enrollment is steady or rising in most cities and spending for new construction is roughly half of what is was in 2006. Now, what I would suggest is going back to existing customers and helping them with existing system upgrades or, better yet, helping them find money in security and life safety grants. For now, we need to be thankful and grateful for any work we get in schools. There is money out there; it’s just nothing like it was a few years ago. — CW