News items come from the U.S. Department of Educations's National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF).
School Board approves lawsuit against county over high school site
Lauren Roth, Orlando Sentinel
December 10, 2013
-- The Orange County School Board approved taking legal action against the county Tuesday night after commissioners rejected plans for a high school in the West Windermere Rural Settlement.
Orange County Public Schools leaders want to build on a 69-acre parcel where Winter Garden-Vineland Road turns and meets Ficquette Road. It would relieve West Orange High, the county's largest high school with 3,746 students. School officials say the site, which the district owns, is centrally situated for the students it would serve and is the best site of 10 considered.
Three neighbors urged the School Board to drop the fight, while three parents said the district should pursue legal action if that is the fastest way to open a school.
"We need the school, and we need it quickly," said Lisa Morrison, the West Orange High PTSO president, who said she was dismayed at the opposition. "Schools are our community."
School Boundary Process Expected To Come Quietly To A Close
Staff Writer, Lessburg Today
December 10, 2013
-- The redrawing of school attendance boundaries in Loudoun County has most often been a divisive process that pits neighbors against neighbors, school board members against school board members and, in recent years, is followed by lawsuits from unhappy families.
But the redrawn attendance boundaries for elementary schools in the South Riding area are scheduled to be approved tonight without a hitch.
The Loudoun County School Board must redraw the attendance boundaries in that part of the county to relieve overcrowded schools and prepare for Cardinal Ridge Elementary School, which will open next fall adjacent to J. Michael Lunsford Middle School in South Riding.
The only plan under consideration, called School Board Plan 2, has been posted on the school system’s website for more than a week and Planning and Legislative Services Department Executive Director Sam Adamo said Monday his staff has not received one email about it. “It’s been pretty quiet.”
Most school attendance boundary changes draw hundreds of parents and students to the school boardroom to speak at public hearings, many dressed in the same color T-shirts as their neighbors to show unified support for one particular plan over another. Facebook pages are created, and School Board members’ inboxes are filled with several hundred emails.
The board’s final public hearing on its proposed attendance plan for South Riding Monday evening lasted little more than 10 minutes as just one person spoke on the matter.
Diane Hill, a bus driver, urged the board to adopt a boundary plan that keeps the students who live on Peach Orchard Drive near Aldie at Aldie Elementary School. She said any more buses on the gravel road would make it unsafe. “It could get pretty complicated,” she said.
The plan likely to be adopted tonight does not reassign students who attend Aldie Elementary.
9 W.Va. counties receive school renovation grants
Associated Press, Times Leader Online
December 10, 2013
-- he West Virginia School Building Authority has awarded more than $4 million for school renovation projects in nine counties.
The Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/19eCUeJ ) reports that the SBA approved grants on Monday for projects in Grant, Harrison, Marshall, Mason, Mercer, Monroe, Morgan, Raleigh and Ritchie counties.
The SBA also awarded more than $2 million to seven projects that are regional or statewide in scope. The funding includes $234,950 awarded to the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind for a new roof, gutter replacement and other renovations.
Berkshire, Newbury school districts make move toward consolidatio
Jean Bonchak, The News-Herald News
December 10, 2013
-- The consolidation of two Geauga County School Districts may take place as early as the 2014-15 school year.
Berkshire and Newbury school boards both passed resolutions of intent seeking consolidation at meetings on Monday.
The next step is to gather information determining whether the move would be financially beneficial to the communities.
“The goal is to provide better education as well as save money,” Berkshire Superintendent Doug DeLong said.
Public Finance Resources Inc. will provide financial data analysis, profile data comparison, and in-depth operating cost analysis to inform and assist in the process of consolidation.
Newbury Superintendent Richard Wagner said the report could be ready sometime in January.
He said Newbury Schools was fortunate to have joined forces with a district in such close proximity as Berkshire.
DeLong said benefits of a larger enrollment in a newly created district could be more course offerings, including advanced placement, for students.
Wagner said that consolidation was preferable to merging because each district would retain some decision-making abilities.
County offers funding for new elementary school in western Rowan
Nathan Hardin, Salisburypost.com
December 10, 2013
-- Rowan County leaders will offer to fund up to $22 million for a new consolidated elementary school in the western part of the county after the board voted 3-2 on Monday.
Vice Chairman Craig Pierce added the plan to fund the once-controversial school to Monday’s special meeting agenda. Commissioners Chad Mitchell and Mike Caskey approved the idea.
The new school would serve the students of Woodleaf and Cleveland communities.
Pierce called the conditions at Woodleaf Elementary “horrendous” and said the school is currently providing water for school facilities by truck and dealing with ongoing septic troubles.
Both elementary schools, he said, are very old and need to be replaced.
But Chairman Jim Sides and Commissioner Jon Barber voted against the measure.
Barber said community members were adamant?against a consolidated school when the plan cropped up more than five years ago.
“If we had put community input in before the proposal, I would feel much more satisfied,” Barber said.
Sides said he would not vote for the school because the county has several offers on the table with the school system and would like to see some of the matters resolved in case the board overextends itself financially.
“My argument all along has been I’m willing to meet any capital needs the schools have or identify, but with funding streams that we have. I see no reason to raise taxes in order to do that.”
Sides pointed out two revenue streams for the project: lottery funds and state-generated sales tax money that is allocated for the county to use on capital needs.
Uxbridge seeks state money to fix school roofs
Susan Spencer, www.telegram.com
December 9, 2013
-- With Selectman Joe Frisk joining Monday's meeting by Skype because he was out of town, selectmen unanimously voted to authorize the superintendent of schools to ask the state to help fund roof repairs at three schools.
Superintendent Kevin Carney and Business Manager Donald Sawyer told selectmen a statement of interest, signed by the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee, needed to be submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority by the end of January for replacement of aging, leaky roofs to be potentially eligible for roughly 52 percent reimbursement through the MSBA's accelerated repair program.
The roofs at McCloskey Middle School, Whitin Elementary School and Taft Early Learning Center date to 1997.
Mr. Carney said, "We have roofs that leak, water gets in, and carpets in 73 classrooms that are breeding ground for mold."
Asbestos in McCloskey Middle School ceilings may also be removed as part of the reimbursable roof repairs, but floor asbestos costs would not be covered.
Under the accelerated repair program, the state would authorize engineers to analyze the damage and recommend repairs during an 18-month period.
Related to the School Department request, selectmen voted 4-1 to adopt amendments to the town's financial policy to set aside money for capital expenditures. Selectman Peter Baghdasarian opposed the vote because he didn't see the policy as falling within the board's purview.
School Construction Authority faces $140M insurance debt
Staff Writer, The Real Deal
December 9, 2013
-- The city’s School Construction Authority is set to lose $140 million from its budget by the end of the year due to rising costs related to the so-called scaffold law, which requires the agency to carry hefty accident insurance.
The SCA is required to cover the costs of workers’ possible injuries, the estimated price of which has spiked in recent years. Under the roughly 100-year-old Labor Law 240, often deemed the scaffold law, developers are responsible for all liability for accidents on a building site. And similar budget shortfalls could affect other city agencies that deal with construction costs.
Two years from now, the SCA will shoulder a $260 million cut, bringing the three-year total loss to $400 million, which officials told Crain’s is on par with the cost of building 10 new schools.
The SCA is allotting $650 million for insurance coverage through 2016 – almost three times what it currently pays, Crain’s said. Its current insurance policy expires later this month. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority are also expected to be hit with similar cuts.
SBA to address state school project needs in Monday meeting
Travis Brinks , WVmetronews.com
December 8, 2013
-- Members of the state School Building Authority will meet Monday in the hopes of addressing some school project needs from around the state.
“We are going to be looking at a number of counties and multi-county vocational centers,” said SBA Executive Director Mark Manchin.
The SBA will be considering Major Improvement Program (MIP) projects in 24 West Virginia counties. MIP projects are defined as a construction/maintenance project with a cost greater than $50,000 but not exceeding $500,000.
Manchin said these are not large-scale projects such as the construction of a new school, but rather smaller ones.
“HVACs, additions, renovations, things of that nature,” he said.
To be considered for the distribution of these funds for projects, each county board of education or administrative council of an area vocational center had to develop 10-year school MIP and submit to the SBA. For this quarterly meeting, the SBA has close to $9 million it can distribute.
“We anticipate addressing real needs in several counties around the state and multi-county vocational centers which are providing a tremendous benefit to the educational process here in West Virginia,” said Manchin.
Mayor Helps Plant CPS' 100th 'Learning Garden' at Pierce School
Adeshina Emmanuel, DNAinfo Chicago
December 7, 2013
-- Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined students at Helen C. Pierce Elementary School Friday to install Chicago Public Schools' 100th "Learning Garden."
In 2012, the mayor pledged his commitment to working with a nonprofit organization, the Kitchen Community, to put 100 gardens in public schools across Chicago, a $1 million effort funded by funding left over from the NATO summit and Chicago philanthropists.
The initiative was aimed at instilling healthy eating habits, countering trends of childhood diabetes and obesity, while also bolstering academic performance with the opportunity for garden-based nutrition and science education.
Pierce held an assembly and ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by the mayor and Kitchen Community Executive Director Kimbal Musk.
Andrew Lajom, an 11-year-old sixth-grade student chosen to speak about the garden, said the garden would "provide many fruits and vegetables for all students at Pierce," and "give us another opportunity to have healthy choices as students."
The garden consists of several concrete planters near the school's field and playground area.
Tribune Looks At The Mismanagement That Led To CPS' Historic School Closures
Chuck Sudo, Chicagoist
December 7, 2013
-- Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools officials repeatedly said the decision to close 54 schools at the end of the 2012-13 school year was predicated on saving the school district money amid declining enrollments and a lack of funds. Opponents of the plan, however, said CPS should had years to fend off these closures and put the district on solid financial footing.
The Tribune published a detailed, interactive investigation that looks at how the city wasted money spending general obligation bonds—starting in the Daley administration—with little in the way of restrictions, oversight, or the consideration of that spending's long-term ramifications on future generations of Chicagoans. Basically, it's the governmental version of living off credit cards.
The Tribune found the city spent $9.8 billion in general obligation bonds from 1989 through 2012. That money, ostensibly intended for infrastructure improvements, was instead spent on items like software that became obsolete; spare parts for vehicles; the greening initiatives that were part and parcel of the Daley administration, such as flowers and extra trash bins; and even bags to pick up dog shit.
The Tribune calls the spending "equivalent to taking out a 30-year mortgage to buy a car and making your children—or grandchildren—pay it off, with interest.
Once the Tribune establishes the pattern of wasteful spending, it moves the focus of the investigation to CPS itself. Of note in this is the school district's old headquarters on West Pershing Road and how the city spend millions in bond obligations to repair the complex even as CPS abandoned the complex for newer, more modern facilities.
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