South Dakota may ban public school teachers from instructing students about gender identity. Photo by Flickr user Robert C...

More than half of U.S. public schools need repairs, survey finds

More than half of the nation’s public school facilities are in desperate need of repairs or modernization, according to a new survey released Thursday.

On average, school buildings were at least 44 years old, and the renovations would cost roughly $197 billion to improve those schools, researchers from the National Center for Education Statistics said.

Conducted during the 2012-13 school year, the survey found that many school districts have grappled with major budget cuts in recent years, forcing them to delay much-needed maintenance and construction projects.

Reggie Felton, the interim associate executive director of the National School Boards Association, told the Associated Press that school officials are having to think outside the box to find creative ways to save money for repairs. For instance, some are opting to share school libraries or athletic fields.

But as the economy is showing signs of improvement, researchers said that nearly 40 percent of public schools are planning renovations over the next two years.