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News items come from the U.S. Department of Educations's National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF).


Historic R.A. Clement School getting new life in Cleveland
-- David Purtell, Salisbury Post

North Carolina: May 25, 2015 -- CLEVELAND — Walking through the R.A. Clement School in western Rowan County, one can see and feel the life that was here … and the life that is coming back. The H-shaped building, built in 1929, was a four-teacher school for black children during the era of segregation. Grades one through 12 were taught here. The last graduating class was in 1968. There are still books, covered in dust, in the school’s library — a single bookshelf that is about 7 or 8 feet long and 5 feet high. Old chalkboards still stand in a couple of rooms. The brick building has wood floors on the inside. A lonely swing set sits in the lawn adjacent to the school. “It was beautiful scenery,” Patricia Moriniere said about the place where she spent much of her childhood. She graduated from R.A. Clement in 1966 along with 36 other students. The school was wrapped around the African-American community in Cleveland, she said.


Tiny Lizards Nearly Barred New School on Sand Mine Road
-- Tom Palmer, TheLedger.com

Florida: May 25, 2015 -- DAVENPORT | Polk County School District officials are poised to begin construction this summer of a $43 million school near U.S. 27 after working out a dispute with federal wildlife officials over how to mitigate for endangered species found on the building site. The dispute over a species called a sand skink earlier this year had threatened to delay the school's construction on Sand Mine Road. Sand skinks have been classified as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 1987. They are legless lizards that spend most of their lives just below the ground's surface in well-drained habitat along the Lake Wales Ridge and some other ancient dune systems in Central Florida. They eat termites, beetle larvae and other small invertebrates. Sand skinks were classified as threatened because an estimated 85 percent of their original habitat was wiped out by development or citrus groves. The site was selected late last year for a new school to solve classroom overcrowding in the area by providing spaces for approximately 1,400 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, said Greg Rivers, the School District's associate superintendent for operations.


Pasadena Unified to study earthquake faults beneath San Rafael Elementary School
-- Jason Henry, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News

California: May 24, 2015 -- Pasadena Unified School District will analyze the land near west Pasadena’s only remaining public elementary school to determine whether active earthquake faults exist beneath it. The trenching, which drills down to determine the age of a fault, was approved Thursday by PUSD’s school board. It will help the district decide whether San Rafael Elementary School needs to move as faults older than 10,000 years are not considered active. “If we were to lose this, there wouldn’t be a public school option west of the Arroyo,” said Scott Phelps, a PUSD board member. “That’s not a good thing.” Last year, the district announced plans to relocate San Rafael Elementary School to the former Allendale Elementary School campus in 2017 after it was discovered that four fault lines ran below the school. The district originally planned to renovate San Rafael as part of $350 million Measure TT bond, but state law prevents them having heavy construction work within 50 feet of an active fault line. The outcome of the trenching could reverse that decision. Phelps pointed to 2012-2013 evaluation done at the nearby Fire Station 39 that found no active faults as a sign that the study may give positive results. “I’m optimistic,” he said.


School district hitting ‘peak of construction’
-- Melissa Erickson, Ames Tribune

Iowa: May 22, 2015 -- With seven major construction projects underway, as well as regular maintenance tasks planned for the summer, the landscape of the Ames School District’s facilities will look very different once students and teachers start classes again in the fall. So far, the district is hitting all of the timelines for the projects that were laid out in a master facilities plan five years ago, according to Superintendent Tim Taylor. “When we put that plan together and we began to take a look at what it was going to be like, we knew that this summer was going to be the absolute peak of the construction period for this district,” Taylor said recently. The biggest changes are unfolding at the district’s five elementary schools, which are in the midst of a four-year overhaul. Ames voters passed the $55 million bond referendum in April 2012, voting to build three new elementary schools and renovate and expand two others. The new Edwards Elementary on Miller Avenue opened in fall 2014. A brand new Meeker Elementary and a renovated Mitchell Elementary will open this fall. Taylor believes the overall cost will be very close to budget. Edwards came in approximately $1 million under budget, but Meeker is going to be about $1 million over, he said. Mitchell may be slightly over cost, too, but Fellows and Sawyer both came in under what the contractors’ budget was, according to Taylor. The district has contingency funds of between $500,000 and $800,000 for the projects. “It could be slightly over, but if we don’t use all the contingency, it could be spot on,” Taylor said.


2 Bedford County elementary schools close permanently
-- Katrina Dix , The Roanoke Times

Virginia: May 22, 2015 -- Scrolling through emotional Facebook posts by parents on her phone Friday, Bedford County school board member Kelly Harmony fought back tears. Parents dropped their children off at Thaxton Elementary, in Harmony’s district, and Body Camp Elementary for the last time Friday. The schools will close to students after today, a decision Harmony and board member Jason Johnson, whose district includes Body Camp, joined the board to fight. “It’s a sad day. Lots of people are angry. … [There’s] a sense of ‘Our community’s being ripped apart,’ ” Harmony said. Johnson said he “absolutely” remains opposed to the closing. “It’s going to have a profound impact on the community itself,” he said. “There’s no post office in Body Camp. There’s the Body Camp store, there’s the elementary school and there are a few churches, and that is Body Camp. So to close the school, you’re really cutting the heart and soul out of that community.” The closing of the schools was projected to save about $1.5 million. School officials have said the 4.25 percent salary increase for staff in next year’s budget was possible due to the closings. The division is not sure what will become of the buildings; they may be auctioned or turned over to the county, division spokesman Ryan Edwards said.


State construction grant will upgrade 93-year-old school
-- Todd Engdahl, Chalkbeat Colorado

Colorado: May 21, 2015 -- Annual grants recommended by the state’s school construction board include a $14.9 million project to renovate and expand a 93-year-old junior/senior high school for the Edison district in rural El Paso County. The state Capital Construction Assistance Board this week recommended approval of 26 projects totaling $90.2 million, including $47.5 million in state funds and $42.6 million in local matches. The State Board of Education and a legislative committee have to review the recommendations next. Edison’s school was built in 1922, with a major addition constructed 47 years ago. The district’s application to the Building Excellent Schools Today program includes a long list of structural, safety, utility, and instructional deficiencies that will be remedied by the project. The district has 194 students, 39 percent classified as at-risk. The BEST program, created by the legislature in 2008, was designed especially to help small districts like Edison that have aging buildings but insufficient financial resources to build on their own. Edison, for instance, was required to provide matching funds of only $274,202. The state portion of BEST is funded primarily by annual revenues from state school lands. In past years the program has been able to award more grants because sales of bond-like instruments were used to fund construction, with the debt paid off over time. For instance, $273 million in projects was recommended in 2012.


Baltimore County OKs budget, but council is critical of school enrollment projections
-- Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun

Maryland: May 21, 2015 -- The Baltimore County Council adopted a $3.3 billion operating budget Thursday for the coming fiscal year, unanimously approving a spending plan that includes no increases in the property tax or income tax rates. The budget approved Thursday changed little from the package proposed last month by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. The budget review process, however, exposed a slight rift between county government and the school system, which receives about half of the money in the budget. County officials are frustrated that the system changed the way it makes long-term enrollment projections for schools without discussing the change with members of the County Council or Kamenetz. Council Chairwoman Cathy Bevins said if enrollment projections change, it could have a "ripple effect" on deciding when and where to pay for school construction projects. The county is in the midst of a $1.3 billion "Schools for Our Future" building initiative that aims to address overcrowding by 2021.


School building approved for National Register of Historic Places
-- Staff Writer, The Journal

Minnesota: May 21, 2015 -- ST. PAUL - At its meeting on Tuesday, May 19, the State Review Board of the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) unanimously approved the nomination of the former New Ulm High School (more recently, ISD 88 District Administration Center) to be officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Representing three distinct eras, the building is an excellent representative of the transformation of public high schools in Minnesota during the period of significance, 1915-1965. When the school opened in 1915, its curriculum reflected Progressive Era reforms embraced by its new superintendent of schools, Herman C. Hess. The "newer education" placed emphasis on practical training for those students not on a college track. Plans for the building included significant space for rooms for instruction in manual training, home economics, teacher training, physical education, and business. During the Great Depression, the school board obtained funds for construction of major additions, including the auditorium, through the Work Projects Administration (WPA), aided by the leadership of Linus Glotzbach, a local lawyer who was first district, and then, state administrator for the WPA. Following World War II, in the midst of the national baby-boom years, district student enrollment nearly doubled over a 10-year span, and the city responded with an addition to the school, completed in 1956. The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation's cultural resources worthy of preservation.


West Fargo school building committee tackles enrollment explosion
-- Wendy Reuer, Inforum

North Dakota: May 20, 2015 -- WEST FARGO – A 40-person community task force has five meetings to come up with a plan for facilities that can accommodate the West Fargo School District's expected 60 percent growth during the next 10 years. The Long Range Facility Planning Committee, which is made up of teachers, principals, parents and community members chosen by Superintendent David Flowers, met for the first time Wednesday night. The committee will explore ways the district can keep up with student enrollment that is projected to grow by 500 to 600 students each year. The group is charged with presenting a plan to the School Board by Aug. 10. The district faces overcrowding at the elementary level as early as the 2017-18 school year. To have another elementary school open by 2017, the board needs to open bids in 2016 and have a referendum passed as early as this November. "[The timeline] is a goal, it's an estimate to manage the work we have to get done," Flowers said. "This kind of process does take time. The paradox is that we don't have a lot of time."


Reversing its promise, CPS may allow charters to move into closed school buildings
-- Lauren FitzPatrick, Chicago Sun Times

Illinois: May 20, 2015 -- Chicago Public Schools will now consider allowing charter schools to move into shuttered school buildings, if there’s community support, despite a promise by CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett not to allow that, the district said Wednesday. Byrd-Bennett, who is currently on leave, had vehemently opposed adding charter school students to CPS buildings with too few children in 2013 to justify keeping them open. She promised repeatedly to the state legislature and community at large that charters wouldn’t move into the 50 schools she closed. “CPS continues to follow the commitment made during the 2013 consolidations to not permit closed school sites to be repurposed as charter schools,” spokesman Bill McCaffrey said. “We’ve also committed to a community-driven process to identify a future use for each former school site that meets the needs of the surrounding community.” “If a community determines that a charter school is a desired option, CPS will consider that option,” McCaffrey said. When she closed 50 schools, Byrd-Bennett pointed to the loss of school-age children, mostly in African-American neighborhoods on the South and West Sides. She reasoned that the district’s resources weren’t being used efficiently by supporting too many schools with too few students.

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