News items come from the U.S. Department of Educations's National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF).
Indian Schools Face Decayed Buildings, Poverty
KIMBERLY HEFLING AP Education Writer, abc News
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.
Towns forced to consider renovation or demolition of old, outdated schools
BRIAN M. JOHNSON, New Britain Herald
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Plainville officials are tackling a thorny problem that many communities face or have faced: What to do with large, outdated school buildings that were expensive to build, are expensive to get rid of and are costlier still to renovate.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.
Reports of garbage, vermin in Chicago public schools
Christopher Davion , World Socialist Web Site
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.
EPA Releases Guidance to Improve Schools’ Indoor Air Quality and Energy Efficiency
Staff Writer, enewspf.com
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.
Eureka City Schools proposes Measure S to modernize, repair buildings
Melissa Simon and Will Houston, Times Standard
October 17, 2014
-- Eureka City Schools District officials say Measure S — a nearly $50 million bond on the November ballot — will fund the repair of school buildings that are falling apart. Opponents call Measure S too much too soon, pointing to unfinished projects such as a high school gym that were never delivered under a previous bond.
District Superintendent Fred Van Vleck said Measure S will not only fund much-needed repairs, but also help give Eureka students a future in Humboldt County after graduation.
"The bond is focused on student safety at the elementary schools, replacing aging portable classrooms and improving the labs and classrooms for the Career and Technical Education program," he said.
If passed, school bonds could offer up $1.47B worth of construction work
Jenny Agee-Aldridge, Houston Business Journal
October 17, 2014
-- More than $1.47 billion of school construction work could be up for grabs if voters pass bond referendums in Houston-area suburbs in November. The bulk of the three proposed packages include building new schools to accommodate the ever-growing populations in areas such as Sugar Land, Katy and Richmond.
Voters served by Lamar CISD, which includes areas such as Richmond, Fulshear and a small portion of Sugar Land, passed a $249 million bond referendum in 2011.
State of California Announces $94 Million for School Construction Projects
Staff Writer, Imperial Valley News
October 16, 2014
-- Sacramento, California - The State Allocation Board (SAB) announced today that it has awarded approximately $94 million for school construction projects throughout the state.
The SAB awarded approximately $94 million for 352 Emergency Repair Program (ERP) projects within 51 school districts. The ERP provides grant and/or reimbursement funding to school districts for the cost of repairing or replacing existing building systems or structural components that are broken or not functioning properly and which pose a health and safety threat to students and staff at eligible school sites. The ERP funds will be released automatically and should be deposited into district accounts within five weeks of today’s meeting.
"The State Allocation Board’s actions today provide cash apportionments for emergency repair projects across the state," said SAB Chair Eraina Ortega, who also serves as Chief Deputy Director, Policy at the California Department of Finance. "The funds will be distributed to school districts within five weeks so local emergency repair projects can move forward as quickly as possible."
Residents raise concerns about aging schools in southwest Baltimore County
Lauren Loricchio, Baltimore Sun
October 16, 2014
-- Air-conditioning, renovated plumbing and Americans with Disabilities Act accessible sidewalks and crosswalks are among the needs at area schools, parents and other stakeholders told members of the Southwest Education Advisory Council during a pre-budget schools hearing Wednesday night..
The meeting held in the cafeteria at Woodlawn High School was held to get input from those in the southwest area of Baltimore County as to how county funds for public education should be allocated in the county's operating budget for FY 2016 and its capital budget for FY 2017.
Stakeholders had the opportunity to voice their concerns and comments with testimony recorded by Beverly Coleman, chair of the advisory council, to be reported to the school board at its Oct. 22 meeting. The advisory council also encouraged stakeholders to testify at the Oct. 22 school board meeting. Among those in attendance was Board of Education member Mike Bowler, who represents the southwest area.
Cindy Freeman, parent of a third grader at Hillcrest Elementary School, testified on behalf of that school's Parent Teacher Association.
Redistricting in future for Catonsville elementary schoolsCatonsvilleRedistricting in future for Catonsville elementary schoolsSee all relatedí
"Now that elementary school overcrowding has been addressed in southwest Baltimore County, our parents are concerned about the Hillcrest facility itself," Freeman said before the group of parents, public officials and community members, "Hillcrest Elementary will be the oldest and most run-down school in the area."
Three new 700-seat schools will be built in the area to replace the current Catonsville Elementary, Westowne Elementary and Relay Elementary, and a 200-seat addition will be added to Westchester Elementary by Aug. 2016. Lansdowne Elementary will also be replaced with a new 700-seat school although no construction timeline has been released yet.
School impact fees discussed, approval unlikely in Wake County
T. Keung Hui, newsobserver.com
October 15, 2014
-- Wake County school board members have proposed studying impact fees as part of a new task force that would work with municipalities in dealing with growth.
But other elected officials and policy experts say it’s doubtful that the state’s courts or the General Assembly will grant any new authority for fees charged for each new home to offset school and infrastructure costs.
“It seems pretty clear they’re going to have to go through the legislature, and the legislature today doesn’t seem inclined to extend that authority,” said Richard Ducker, an associate professor of Public Law and Government at the UNC School of Government.
With enrollment rising by 3,000 children annually, the 155,000-student school system is concerned about growth pressures. A school board committee recently recommended the growth task force and board members said they wanted to study all options.
“How we can work with our local municipalities to help us with that, as well as perhaps developers and Realtors, in helping sharing some of the costs?” school board member Keith Sutton, a Democrat, said at the committee meeting.
But the General Assembly hasn’t granted authority to a municipality or county to charge impact fees on developers since 1989. Legislators have sided with the homebuilding industry, which has argued impact fees are regressive and discriminatory.
$2B draft bill for K-12 would be largest in ND history
Mike Nowatzki, Dickinson Press
October 15, 2014
-- BISMARCK – North Dakota lawmakers got their first look at a draft bill Wednesday that proposes more than $400 million in new spending for K-12 education in the next two years, part of a $2 billion package that would be the largest education funding bill in state history.
Of the roughly $405 million increase in spending, about $280 million would follow students, including a 3 percent bump in the per-student funding rate in each year of the 2015-2017 biennium.
The other $125 million would be available as low-interest school construction loans to growing school districts.
Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, chairman of the Legislature’s interim Education Funding Committee, which requested the draft bill and reviewed it Wednesday, called it “a really a strong bill going into the session.”
“We’re really in a nice time where we are able to do some very nice things with the strong economy that we have,” he said.
The per-student funding rate would jump to $9,482 in 2015-16 – a $390 increase over the current rate – and to $9,766 in 2016-17.
“There were years when we were excited if we had a $25 per student increase, and we’ve certainly come a long way from that,” Flakoll said.
The rates are derived from a report presented to the 19-member committee in June by consulting firm Picus Odden & Associates, which recommended raising the rates to account for rising pension benefits and health care cost estimates.
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