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

CPS to announce the first sale of a shuttered school
-- Lauren FitzPatrick , Chicago Sun Times

Illinois: October 21, 2014 -- Chicago Public Schools will announce on Wednesday the first sale of the 47 school campuses it shuttered in a massive 2013 closing — selling Peabody Elementary School on the near Northwest Side for about $3.5 million, district officials confirmed Tuesday. It’s also putting several more shuttered schools on the market, Chief Operating Officer Tom Tyrrell said. Peabody, a property of two buildings in the 1400 block of West Augusta Boulevard, will be sold to a private developer who plans to split the property with the Northwestern Settlement should the Board of Education approve the sale at its monthly meeting. The property will be split, with half going to Northwestern as a community center with services such as child care, workforce development and after-school programming, and the other half going to a developer believed to be interested in building homes. But the district failed to find a buyer for the former Marconi Elementary School building, 230 N. Kolmar, and the former Wentworth Elementary School, 6950 S. Sangamon, put out to bid during the summer, Tyrrell told the Sun-Times on Tuesday. “The bidder has to do two things. Offer one of the two highest bids. The other thing is it has to conform to community preference” determined by the alderman, he said. Marconi in East Garfield Park, which the alderman wanted to become an alternative school to educate dropouts, had just one bid, he said. Meanwhile the shuttered school is costing the district about $47,000 a year. CPS also will put out to bid the former Trumbull Elementary School, 5200 N. Ashland, in Andersonville; Near North, 739 N. Ada, in River West, and Overton Elementary School, 221 E 49th St., in Bronzeville. And it is considering the cost of moving the overcrowded Decatur Classical School currently at 7030 N. Sacramento into the building at 4525 N. Kenmore, which used to house Stewart, he said. That building costs about $79,000 a year to maintain as empty. Sixteen months after their doors closed for the last time, 37 of the 47 emptied campuses remain (that’s 41 of 52 buildings), Tyrrell said, adding that some will prove tougher to sell than others. The listings come with conditions as determined by aldermen, who were supposed to hold community meetings to see how residents wanted the buildings used.

NYU Extends Construction Deadline for Proposed Bleecker St. Public School
-- Danielle Tcholakian, DNAinfo New York

New York: October 21, 2014 -- GREENWICH VILLAGE — A proposed public school in Greenwich Village is back on the table, after New York University agreed on Tuesday to give the city more time to decide whether to build it. NYU had offered the 130 Bleecker St. site to the city as part of the university's $6 billion expansion plan, on the condition that the Department of Education commit to building a school there before the end of 2014. With that deadline rapidly approaching and the DOE showing no sign of claiming the site for a public school, City Councilwoman Margaret Chin and residents pushed NYU to extend the year-end deadline so that the city would not risk losing the space for a future school. On Tuesday, NYU agreed to extend the deadline to the end of 2018, according to a letter NYU senior vice president Lynne Browne sent to Chin's office. "I know how important the matter of an extension for the School Construction Authority (SCA) to decide on the Bleecker Street site has been for you, and you know how much we respect your role as an elected official," Browne said in the letter. "So I am glad to be able to convey that NYU will extend the time period during which the SCA may decide if they need the site."

Pasadena Unified School Board will vote on school boundary changes; will not include school closures
-- Sarah Favot, Pasadena Star-News

California: October 21, 2014 -- PASADENA >> After months of discussion about possible school closures and consolidations, the Pasadena Unified school board will not consider closing any district school Thursday night when it votes on new school attendance boundaries. “We’re not discussing any school closures for 15/16 (school year),” said PUSD spokesman Adam Wolfson. A steady enrollment decline since 2000 has caused many district schools to be below its recommended enrollment size. The school board tasked the Master Planning and Boundaries Committee with analyzing enrollment and other data to make recommendations about school boundary changes. School boundaries have not been adjusted in more than 10 years. The proposed changes affects attendance boundaries for all but two of the district’s schools. Wolfson said the proposed boundary changes will only affect incoming kindergarten students, not students already enrolled at a school. “No child will move schools,” he said. Potential school closures are not off the table. The committee will also recommend that the board direct interim Superintendent Brian McDonald to recommend any school closures or consolidations. He must make recommendations to the committee by January.

"School-based health centers" could be the future of medicine for teens
-- Christina Sturdivant , elevation DC

District of Columbia: October 20, 2014 -- While a school nurse can hand out band-aids and Tylenol, Jason Beverly, a medical provider at Anacostia Senior High School, can prescribe and administer antibiotics, allergy meds and more. Beverly is part of a movement in over 2,000 "school-based health centers" across the nation that aim to change medical care for school-aged youth. These centers, in several D.C. public high schools, provide a full range of health services from treatments for the common cold, headaches and asthma, administer vision and hearing screenings, and help students stay up to date on immunizations and physicals. Some centers even have full dental laboratories. Forget what you remember about the school nurse—this is serious healthcare. “We function as a full-service primary adolescent care clinic, so we augment the services that have been traditionally provided by the school nursing program,” says Beverly, family nurse practitioner and full-time healthcare provider at Anacostia Senior High School. "We assist children in staying in school and graduating successfully." Each center is a collaboration with DCPS, the DC Department of Heath and local health institutions. The Anacostia center—entering its third year-- is run by Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. About 60 percent of the student body—500 students—are signed up to receive services. In addition to keeping students' health intact, the most fundamental aspect of the centers is their ability to keep students’ heads in the books. “We assist children in staying in school and graduating successfully,” says Beverly. Anacostia’s center sees an average of 12 students per day, who are given treatment then sent back to class, whereas previously, students would have to leave school, travel to a clinic and miss countless hours of class time, or perhaps not be treated at all for minor symptoms. In other words, if you can't bring the student to the doctor, bring the doctor to the student.

Fascinating features of San Francisco’s old public schools
-- Jill Tucker,

California: October 18, 2014 -- San Francisco’s newest public school, Willie Brown Jr. Middle School, will have plenty of modern features. But back in the 19th and 20th centuries, the city built very different schools — structures with Italian tile, solariums, painted ceilings, chandeliers and even gargoyles. These are old-school schools with fascinating features. Five gargoyles sit atop the old Hilltop High School in the Mission, built in 1937. “Every school should have gargoyles,” said David Goldin, San Francisco Unified’s chief facilities officer. Here’s a sampling, clockwise from top left: Tiles surround the arched doors at Hilltop High ; a gargoyle looks out from the Hilltop roof; original blueprints for all the schools in the district are kept in an office in Nourse Auditorium, built in 1927 for the High School of Commerce; a water fountain in the I.M. Scott Building in the Dogpatch neighborhood. See more images online at

Reports of garbage, vermin in Chicago public schools
-- Christopher Davion , World Socialist Web Site

Illinois: October 18, 2014 -- Recently published reports and testimony by Chicago Public Schools faculty and parents document increasingly filthy conditions in city schools following the privatization of custodial services earlier this year by contract firm Aramark. The city, backed by the SEIU union that nominally represents the janitors, nonetheless plans to proceed with the layoff of 290 custodians at the end of the month. Since the privatization of custodial services by Aramark and Sodexo earlier in the year, parents and CPS principals have complained about deterioration in the conditions of school facilities. For teachers, cleaning and maintaining the schools has taken up time that should be spent on instruction. CPS principals report resorting to organizing parent and student volunteers to help clean and dispose of overflowing trash before the start of the 2014-15 school year. Veteran teachers say current conditions are the most unsanitary they have ever seen. They report having to purchase, out of their own paychecks, basic amenities for student use in school restrooms such as hand soap and toilet paper. Flies, gnats, and roaches are proliferating amid piles of unremoved garbage, they say. One parent testified at a CPS Board of Education meeting that a classroom rug on which a student vomited on a Friday afternoon had remained uncleaned the following Monday. Photographs of Chicago school facilities posted online by students and teachers, some uploaded to Twitter under the hashtag ‘#CPSfilth’, include images of unsanitary restrooms, piles of garbage, dead rodents, broken utilities, moldy cafeteria food, and other stark indications of uncleanliness and neglect. One high school teacher working on Chicago’s southwest side reported his classroom has a leaky ceiling that had gone unfixed for two years, and that roaches were recently spotted in a student locker room, causing students to avoid using the showers after physical education class.

Towns forced to consider renovation or demolition of old, outdated schools
-- BRIAN M. JOHNSON, New Britain Herald

Connecticut: October 18, 2014 -- With its consideration of what to do with the former Linden Street School, Plainville officials are tackling a thorny problem that many communities face or have faced: What to do with large, outdated school buildings that were expensive to build, are expensive to get rid of and are costlier still to renovate. For the past year, local leaders have mulled various options for the former elementary school that was built in 1928. Many want it demolished, while some have suggested that it be renovated for new uses. Both recommendations will go to voters in a referendum next month. Other communities are dealing with similar issues. In Bristol, the sprawling former Memorial Boulevard School, built in 1921, has been vacant since 2010. A year ago, a majority of council members agreed to sell it to a Rhode Island developer. However, the Planning Commission opposed the move and the council lacked a super majority needed to go ahead with the move. Since then, the community has debated using the school for housing or cultural events. Also vacant in Bristol are the Bingham and O’Connell schools, which were built in 1916 and 1914 respectively. Bingham has been empty since 2011, O’Connell hasn’t been used since 2012 and city planners are still reviewing options. One of the major problems with reusing such old schools, officials say, is their outdated energy and mechanical systems, which are expensive to use or update. They may also be filled with hazardous materials, such as asbestos. Most also were built before handicap accessibilities laws were enacted. Jeffrey Beckham, an official with the state’s Department of Administrative Services, said older buildings are only exempt from meeting those standards if the buildings are being used as they were originally built. Once renovated, they have to be made accessible to those with handicaps, which can also be expensive. “Generally speaking, an older building is a lot further out of code than a newer one, so there is a lot more work to be done,” Beckham said.

New York State’s school bond act draws a muted reaction
-- Tom Precious , The Buffalo News

New York: October 18, 2014 -- ALBANY – What if someone came calling with a $2 billion gift and the intended recipient was ho-hum about taking it? That’s the reaction the Smart Schools bond act, which is on the Nov. 4 statewide ballot, is getting in many educational circles. Officials in many parts of the education community say they didn’t propose the money and didn’t ask for its passage in the State Legislature this year, but will likely be happy to take the cash if voters approve the big borrowing – so long as there are none of the usual Albany strings attached. The $2 billion bond act caught the education community by surprise when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed it last January in his State of the State address. It found its way into the larger state budget and now will appear on ballot boxes across the state in a couple of weeks for voters to consider. Proponents characterize the borrowing as a way to give schools a technology jolt, allowing classrooms that aren’t wired with broadband to get access to high-speed Internet services, giving students new desktops, laptops and other devices and helping teachers incorporate cutting-edge technologies. Proceeds of the bond also can be used to fund classroom construction or renovation to make way for new prekindergarten classes, a provision in the plan which critics say would mean New York City would eat up much of the funding; $783 million is destined for New York City. Bond proceeds can also be used to replace classroom trailers with new classrooms in a building. The Cuomo administration has already floated, and put into the 2014 budget contingent upon the ballot item passing, district-by-district allotments for the funds. The allotments were based, in large part, on the school aid formula – used in the 2013-14 school year – that drives state aid to districts. For Buffalo, it would mean up to $56 million could flow in the coming years for new computers, wireless Internet upgrades, pre-K classroom space, and high-tech school security measures. Other potential amounts locally include Kenmore-Tonawanda at $5 million, Lackawanna at $2.9 million, West Seneca at $4.2 million, Niagara Falls at $8.9 million. New York City schools would be eligible for $783 million.

Indian Schools Face Decayed Buildings, Poverty
-- KIMBERLY HEFLING AP Education Writer, abc News

National: October 18, 2014 -- Federally owned schools for Native Americans on reservations are marked by remoteness, extreme poverty and a lack of construction dollars. They also are among the nation's lowest performing. The Obama administration is pushing ahead with an improvement plan that gives tribes more control. But the effort is complicated by the disrepair of so many buildings, not to mention the federal legacy of forcing American Indian children from their homes to attend boarding schools. Consider Little Singer Community School, with 81 students on a remote desert outpost. The vision for the school came in the 1970s from a medicine man who wanted area children to attend school locally. Here's the reality today: a cluster of rundown classroom buildings containing asbestos, radon, mice and mold. Students often come from families struggling with domestic violence, alcoholism and a lack of running water at home, so nurturing is emphasized. The school provides showers, along with shampoo and washing machines. Teachers have no housing, so they commute together about 90 minutes each morning on barely passable dirt roads. The school is on the government's priority list for replacement. It's been there since at least 2004. Not even one-quarter of students were deemed proficient in reading and math on a 2012-2013 assessment. "We have little to work with, but we make do with what we have," says Verna Yazzie, a school board member. The 183 schools are spread across 23 states and fall under the jurisdiction of the Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Education.

EPA Releases Guidance to Improve Schools’ Indoor Air Quality and Energy Efficiency
-- Staff Writer,

National: October 17, 2014 -- WASHINGTON --(ENEWSPF)--October 17, 2014. Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new guidance to help school districts protect indoor air quality while increasing energy efficiency during school renovations. “This guidance provides common-sense solutions for improving energy efficiency and indoor air quality in schools across the country,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “By using these guidelines, school districts can cut their energy bills and help ensure that students have a healthy and safe learning environment.” Both energy management and protection of indoor air quality (IAQ) are important considerations for school facility management during energy upgrades and retrofits, and schools can protect occupant health by addressing both goals holistically. These renovation and construction activities can create dust, introduce new contaminants and contaminant pathways, create or aggravate moisture problems, and result in inadequate ventilation in occupied spaces. EPA’s Energy Savings Plus Health: Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for School Building Upgrades offers opportunities to prevent and control potentially harmful conditions during school renovations. The practices outlined in the new guidance support schools as healthy, energy-efficient buildings that play a significant role in local communities. Nearly 55 million elementary and secondary students occupy our schools, as well as 7 million teachers, faculty and staff. In addition, many communities use school buildings after regular school hours as after-care facilities, recreation centers, meeting places and emergency shelters during natural disasters.

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