News items come from the U.S. Department of Educations's National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF).
Dallas ISD's newest school built on contaminated land
Lori Brown , Vicki Chen, Fox 4
October 20, 2016
-- DALLAS - A FOX 4 Investigation has uncovered that Dallas ISD’s newest school is built on contaminated land.
The contamination at Jose “Joe” May Elementary School in Northwest Dallas is serious enough that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has stepped in to oversee cleanup of the property.
The concern stems from contaminated soil left behind by a gas station and dry cleaner that operation on the site from the 1960s to 2012. According to the TCEQ, those chemicals can get in the air inside the school if not addressed.
Public records reviewed by FOX 4 show the school district is monitoring the air quality inside the school for harmful chemicals and has been doing so for months.
An August 18 laboratory report shows indoor air quality at Joe May Elementary met state safety levels just four days before the school opened on August 22, 2016.
Earlier environment reports show some DISD officials have known about the contaminated soil for at least two years, even before the school was approved to be built.
Albuquerque Public Schools saves millions in maintenance
Rebecca Atkins, KRQE News 13
October 20, 2016
-- Albuquerque Public Schools have saved two million dollars over the last five years, and it’s all thanks to preventative maintenance.
“The whole philosophy is, be more proactive than reactive,” said John Dufay, the Executive Director of Operations for APS. He said the whole purpose of this new program of maintaining the schools is to prevent catastrophic issues, that cost thousands of dollars.
“We didn’t change the budget, we allocated a certain amount of money for preventive maintenance and a certain amount for reactive,” said Dufay.
The preventative work can by anything from, carpenters coming in to check all of the doors, to oiling the doors, and going through the locks. Dufay said they also re-sealed the floors and have started to replace all the lights with LED lights.
“This past year we did about 71,000 work orders,” he said, and in years past he said they averaged around 50 thousand work orders, but the preventative work is more extensive.
Christina mold concerns persist: 'I feel like we're slumlords'
Joe Irizarry , WDEL 101.7FM
October 19, 2016
-- Mold at Pulaski Elementary School highlights an at times contentious Christina School Board meeting.
"I feel like we're slumlords," said School Board member Shirley Saffer.
"We're not slumlords," answered District Facilities Manager Nick Vacirca.
Saffer responded, "I feel that's how we are at this point."
This back and forth was about how the district has dealt with a mold issue that some teachers said is making them sick with an illness they've dubbed the 'Pulaski Kennel Cough.'
Vacirca said the health of the students and staff was a big concern for the district.
Despite the district's best efforts to put the board, teachers and parents at ease, Saffer still wanted to be safe rather than sorry.
"Can't we just shut the building down for one week, put the children at Bancroft or Palmer or another school?" asked Saffer. "Please can't we just do it for one week-- I don't care what it costs us--I don't care if we have to do something else; we have to do something."
Malfunctioning boiler sickened students at Cheshire elementary school
October 19, 2016
-- CHESHIRE — Several Highland School students became ill Wednesday after a malfunctioning boiler unit was found to be releasing high amounts of carbon monoxide.
School was dismissed just before 11 a.m. Wednesday but was deemed safe for occupancy Wednesday afternoon. School will be held Thursday, according to School Superintendent Jeff Solan.
“Every member of our team is confident that the situation has been fully remedied,” he said.
The malfunctioning boiler unit has been deactivated for repairs. Burners and boilers are inspected and serviced each year.
“We confirmed this with testing this afternoon and are certain that this is the source of the problem,” Solan said. “This particular boiler was last serviced in November 2015 as scheduled. Our team is also exploring solutions to ensure that this problem never repeats itself.”
Rooftop air handling units drew carbon monoxide into the building, according to Solan.
In a statement issued earlier Wednesday, Solan said students had elevated levels of carbon monoxide and became ill following a field trip. In an update, Solan said neither the location of the trip nor the bus which transported students “had anything to do with this outbreak.”
Pasco joins ranks of school districts that can't keep up with capital costs
Jeffrey Solochek, Tampa Bay Times
October 19, 2016
-- LAND O'LAKES — Another local school district is straining hard to keep up with mounting costs for maintenance and construction.
The fast-growing Pasco County school system, like neighboring Hillsborough, faces a bleak situation over the next decade, even if it hits the most optimistic financial projections, district officials said this week.
They estimate that Pasco's capital plan — including new schools and buses, roof repairs and preventive maintenance — would cost $1.33 billion. The district's four major funding sources, however, look to generate $900.3 million, leaving a $430 million gap.
"We can only do projects for as much resources as we have," chief finance officer Olga Swinson told the School Board. "So we keep moving projects" far into the future.
Such concerns are widespread in Florida. Look no farther than Hillsborough, where the school system can't afford its growing air conditioning repair list as it continues to pay off debt from its 1990s construction boom.
$46 Million School Construction Bond Vote Passes Easily In Harrison
Jon Craig , Harrison Daily Voice
October 19, 2016
-- HARRISON, N.Y. -- Residents of the Harrison Central School District easily approved a proposed $46.5 million construction bond issue by more than a four-to-one margin on Tuesday.
The vote count, according to Deputy District Clerk Gene George, was 1,693 in favor and 414 against.
School officials have said they don't expect additional taxpayer costs because of debt retired last year and because they will use capital-improvement funds. State aid is expected to cover 10 percent of project costs.
All six of Harrison's school buildings have projects, including health and safety issues. Examples are roof replacements and bringing some spaces up to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
School districts in Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach and Westminster pin hopes to bonds
Greg Mellen, OC Register
October 18, 2016
-- Four area school districts are among 10 countywide going to the ballot to ask for bond money to help upgrade aging and deteriorating structures. But only one of the four – the Ocean View School District in Huntington Beach – is facing significant opposition.
Collectively, the Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Ocean View and Westminster school districts are seeking $467million in bonds from voters Nov. 8. All four need 55 percent supermajorities to pass.
In the Fountain Valley School District, where most of the campuses are 40 years old, Measure O seeks $63million for deteriorating roofs and electrical systems. Measure N, a similar bond request in 2012 to borrow $23.5million, failed.
The Huntington Beach City School District’s Measure Q is asking voters for $159million for science, technology and mathematics labs in addition to repairing deteriorating infrastructure.
Westminster School District’s Measure T is a $76million bond to build a new gymnasium for Stacey Middle School as well as upgrade roofs, ventilation and to make other repairs.
Hartford School Board Faces Outcry Over Closings Report
Vanessa de la Torre, Hartford Courant
October 18, 2016
-- Christina Diaz, the mother of a second-grader at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School, cut through the pleasantries as she addressed the city school board Tuesday night.
"How dare y'all close down that school or think about closing down that school," Diaz said. "Have you even taken the time to talk to the parents there? Have you taken the time to even know what we go through?"
It had been five days since consultants presented three draft proposals to the district's Equity 2020 committee, an advisory group of parents, educators and community leaders, and under all three scenarios King would close next summer. The school board has the final say on school consolidation plans and isn't expected to make a decision until December or so, after vetting and dissecting the proposals.
But Tuesday was the first time that many people had a chance to confront the board, so they did. Diaz had plenty of company in the Hartford Public High School library, which drew a standing-room-only crowd and more school security officers than usual for a regular board meeting.
Newark Schools Denied Funds to Filter Lead in Drinking Water
Sara Imperiale, Natural Resources Defense Council
October 17, 2016
-- After years of elevated lead levels in Newark Public Schools' drinking water, NRDC and the Education Law Center have sent a letter to New Jersey agencies on behalf of the City's public school children demanding access to funds for a lead filtration system.
In March 2016, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection released a statement indicating that after the Newark Public School district’s annual testing of water taps, 30 schools recorded levels of lead above the federal action level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at 15 parts per billion. Since then, annual water testing data from the Newark Public Schools district has been released dating back to 2010, indicating that more than 80 percent of the school facilities assessed had a sample in excess of the federal action level. Almost one-quarter of the tested schools had at least one sample that was more than ten times higher than the action level in that time.
Schools hope state match triggers building boom
Jeremy P. Kelley , Dayton Daily News
October 14, 2016
-- Aging buildings with no air conditioning, ailing mechanical systems, leaky roofs and substandard technology are among the reasons five local school districts are seeking money on the Nov. 8 ballot to build new schools.
Xenia, Fairborn, Valley View, Jefferson Twp. and Preble Shawnee are all trying to take advantage of a funding match from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. The state program contributes a multimillion-dollar share of local projects if voters agree to cover the rest via bond levies.
The number of school building issues locally is higher than in any election this decade.
School officials say the building upgrades would dramatically improve the learning environment for students.
“Every time it rains, water is coming through certain areas of the roof and the walls into the hallways. Would that affect you at your work?” Fairborn Superintendent Mark North asked. “Or if your computers are not working, or the heating system is not working right? … It’s not a good environment for learning or for teaching either.”
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