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


LW Parent Group Insists School Closing Decision be in Court's Hand
-- LAUREN TRAUT, Frankfort Patch

Illinois: February 6, 2016 -- It’s not up the Lincoln-Way District 210 Board of Education whether one of the district’s schools should close, an attorney representing infuriated parents argued in court Thursday. Lincoln-Way Area Taxpayers Unite previously filed a lawsuit asking the court to intervene to stop the closing of Lincoln-Way North High School. The district fired back with a request for dismissal, but the parent group isn’t backing down. On Thursday, the group’s lawyer spat back that the school board does not have “unfettered discretion,” and therefore the final decision rests in the hands of the court. The group maintains its position that the board’s August 2015 decision to close the eight-year school was “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.”


Ocean City School Refinancing Plan to Save $1 million
-- Donald Wittkowski, OCNJdaily.com

New Jersey: February 6, 2016 -- Ocean City’s school district is undertaking a debt refinancing plan that will allow it to capitalize on lower interest rates and save more than $1 million for taxpayers. Essentially, the district is following the same strategy as myriad homeowners who have refinanced their mortgages in recent years to take advantage of historically low interest rates. “That’s exactly it,” said Tim Kelley, the district’s business administrator. “We are simply refinancing our existing debt. We are not taking on additional debt.” Under the plan, the district will replace about $11.7 million in existing bonds that have an interest rate of between 4 percent and 5 percent with new debt ranging from 2 percent to 3 percent. Kelley estimates a total savings of $1.05 million in interest costs over the life of the new bonds through 2022. The refinancing will also decrease the tax rate on the school district’s debt service by two-tenths of a cent, resulting in a savings of about $10 per year for the typical homeowner whose property is assessed at $500,000, Kelley said. On Jan. 20, the Board of Education introduced an ordinance to authorize the bond refunding. The board is scheduled to hold a public hearing and take a final vote on the plan at its Feb. 24 meeting. Assuming the ordinance is approved, the new bonds are expected to be sold to investors in late March, Kelley said.


Construction cost to be significant for possible WCPS middle schools expansion
-- AARON MUDD, Bowling Green Daily News

Kentucky: February 6, 2016 -- The defeat of a bill to exempt school construction projects from prevailing wage means Warren County Public Schools won’t get relief from unexpected construction costs to expand middle schools. District Superintendent Rob Clayton said expanding middle schools to accommodate sixth-graders would cost the district a projected $27 million. The original price point of the project was between $16 million and $17 million in 2014, he said. The Kentucky Labor Cabinet defines prevailing wage as “the hourly base wage and fringe rate paid to workers, laborers and mechanics of each classification when working on public works projects that are estimated to cost more than $250,000.” Before it was defeated in a Kentucky House committee, Senate Bill 9 would have exempted “elementary, secondary or postsecondary education buildings and facilities” from the definition of public works. Essentially, that would mean freeing school districts and postsecondary institutions from prevailing wage requirements. Clayton said the cost of complying raises costs for a construction project by 20 percent to 30 percent. He supports exempting educational construction projects from the law.


St. George embarks on Rosenwald school restoration
-- Jenna-Ley Harrison, the summerville Journal Scene

South Carolina: February 5, 2016 -- Ralph James was just a first-grader when he attended St. George Colored School in the 1950s. It was one of two schools in Dorchester County that were part of a larger network of Rosenwald schools, founded by Booker T. Washington and Sears and Roebuck President Julius Rosenwald during the early 20th century. The duo’s goal was to enhance public education for the Southern, rural African-American population. The St. George site, located at Ann and Gavin streets, is the only Rosenwald building still standing in the county and one of 40 across South Carolina. Little information is known about the second Rosenwald school, referred in historical documents as “County Training School at Summerville.” Even Summerville resident Edith Oldham, who’s researched the schools’ history and sought details from several seasoned Summerville natives, has come up empty. Oldham did say she once heard the school may have been located near Mr. K’s Piggly Wiggly grocery store on Cedar Street, but she can’t be sure.


Gym Floor Mercury Poses Painful Puzzle
-- Staff Writer, Payson Roundup

Arizona: February 5, 2016 -- The discovery of minute amounts of mercury off-gassing from the rubberized floors in the Pine school gym and cafeteria represent one of those nerve-wracking intersections of science and public policy. #Worried, thoughtful, articulate parents and community members this week peppered representatives of the state health department, state department of environmental quality and school facilities board with intense questions about whether their children face long-term health risks as a result of the mercury salts used to catalyze the hardening of the Tartan brand floors installed decades ago. #On the face of it, the results of two sets of tests on the gym and cafeteria floors sound pretty reassuring. The levels of mercury in the air at the height of a third-grader’s nose average about 0.29 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Federal standards consider levels safe anywhere below 3.0 micrograms — which is at least 10 times the levels measured in Pine. To try to wrap your mind around how small 1 microgram is — picture one inch covered on a trip between here and Portland, Maine. #Still, parents raised great questions about the methods of monitoring. These thoughtful questions convinced the state to do additional tests. Parents wanted tests that track concentrations over eight hours when the gym is actually in use. The state representatives agreed to undertake the additional tests and we will fully report the results when we get them.


Parent, teacher photos show decades-old Enon Elementary school in decay
-- ALIX BRYAN AND SHELBY BROWN, WTVR.com

Virginia: February 5, 2016 -- CHESTERFIELD, Va. -- Pictures shared with CBS 6 by concerned parents show a very damaged Enon Elementary School. Parents and teachers alike have had enough of the leaky roof, with the ceiling missing panels, and a building in states of disrepair – including a hole in the floor so big that a teacher fell through it. Parents and teachers said the school on Route 10 – built in 1928 – is crumbling in its old age, and that a new building is long overdue. “The building itself is in terrible shape,” said Jennifer Lackey. “It shows its age, definitely does,” said Jonathon Ellis. Lackey and Ellis are just a few of the parents who want to keep the spotlight on Enon, and the desperate need for a brand-new school. School Board Members are working on the site design phase for the slated $29 million project, but parents say the building is clearly in a slump. . Photos posted on a Facebook page Build Our New School show the clear deterioration of the 88-year-old building. “When you have teachers falling through the floors and it's raining inside the classrooms, then you are definitely concerned as a parent,” Lackey said.


Construction Ongoing After Crescent Public Schools Damaged By Earthquakes
-- JOLEEN CHANEY, News9.com

Oklahoma: February 5, 2016 -- CRESCENT, Oklahoma - Areas of Crescent Public Schools are in shambles after earthquakes in July shook some of the buildings so hard the walls are bowed. Construction has been going on for months, but they're making progress. "We've had to seal the building off and evacuate,” said Crescent Public Schools Superintendent Mickey Hart. The earthquake that caused the damage happened back in the summer, but for months repair work has been ongoing - the hammering and clamoring are another nail closer to fixing the $4,000 in damages. "The deductible is per building, and this was the only building that had enough damage to go ahead and pursue that deductible,” said Hart. It's a $50,000 deductible per building, and the gym is the only building with enough damage to submit a claim. The school district will absorb the couple of thousand dollars for the other buildings. The Oklahoma Risk Management Trust deals with about 40 percent of the state's public schools that are insured. With recent budget cuts many just can't afford to add the extra optional cost right now, but for schools that do, there are exclusions and limitations. “Anything other than natural earth movement then there may not be coverage even if they've purchased earthquake coverage on their policy,” said Kelly Mclemore of the Oklahoma Risk Management Trust.


Lead concerns will close Midland's elementary school for rest of the year
-- Gary L. Smith , Journal Star

Illinois: February 4, 2016 -- VARNA — The Midland School Board voted Thursday night to close the district’s elementary school in Lacon through the end of the school year after potentially hazardous lead paint was found in several more areas inside and outside the building. That means the K-4 students now in that building will be moved to the middle school in Sparland, while fifth-grade pupils will be shifted from Sparland to the high school outside Varna. Pre-K students will also go to the high school after some building modifications. The district’s objective is to have the transition completed in time to have students back in their classes by Tuesday. But whether the process of physically moving furnishings and other items, further complicated by a last-minute decision to have lead testing done in the middle school, can be completed on that schedule was not certain. “That’s unknown at this time. I hope so,” Superintendent Rolf Sivertsen said after the meeting. “The goal is to get the students back in school as expeditiously as possible. They’ve been out of school too long.” All three district schools have been closed the past seven school days for detailed testing being done at the Lacon school.


Wake County to identify $2 billion in school construction needs
-- T. KEUNG HUI, The News & Observer

North Carolina: February 3, 2016 -- Wake County school officials will tell commissioners Wednesday they have more than $2 billion in school construction needs over the next seven years. During Wednesday’s joint meeting of the board of commissioners and school board, school staff will lay out the seven-year capital improvement plan while county staff will lay out what money is available in their funding model. The school district’s presentation comes at a time when commissioners are looking at skipping a school bond referendum this year and not raising property taxes in order to protect a half-cent sales tax to pay for the transit plan that will be on the November ballot. School officials project they’ll need on average $358.9 million a year to meet construction needs. The county’s funding model indicates that Wake won’t come close to providing $358.9 million unless commissioners raise taxes. What will likely happen in the next several months is that the school board and commissioners will agree to a scaled-down version of the capital improvement plan to cover the next three to four years. For now, school staff project the need for $1.1 billion for new schools, or an average of $157 million a year for the next seven years. That amount covers the opening of 10 elementary schools, two middle schools and three high schools. Also on the bill are five elementary schools, a middle school and a high school that won’t be open at the end of the seven-year period but will need to be bid out. The new schools would help Wake keep up with the 20,904 new students projected to come by 2022. But Wake is projecting costs to rise to $100 million for a new high school, $63 million for a new middle school and $34 million for a new elementary school


Palm Beach County School Board considers sales tax
-- Scott Travis, Sun Sentinel

Florida: February 3, 2016 -- A proposal for a higher sales tax has Palm Beach County School Board members trying to solve a tricky math problem. The county has asked the school district to join a one-cent sales tax proposal, where it would receive 40 percent of the revenues from that tax, or about $912 million a year. That money would be used to fix aging facilities and upgrade technology. The remaining 60 percent would be split among the county, cities and cultural organizations. But the school district has been considering its own half cent sales tax, which would net about $250 million more a year to address needs. Some School Board members worry about the lost revenues, while others say it's a politically risky move to go solo. Voters may get overwhelmed by two separate tax proposals, as well as a possible third being floated by Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue, and reject them all. The School Board discussed the options at a meeting Wednesday and hopes to make a final decision on Feb. 17. Board members have asked Superintendent Robert Avossa to negotiate with the county. The district has been dealing with a bleak capital budget in recent years due to state cuts. Its $359 million capital budget, which pays for maintenance, computers and school buses, is $82.7 million less than is required to meet basic needs, district officials have said. The district has been using reserves to balance the budget but those will be depleted after this year, officials said

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