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

Schools in favor of Gov. Dayton's pre-school proposal if they have space
-- Nathan Bowe, DL-Online

Minnesota: March 29, 2015 -- Area school superintendents agree that getting 4-year-olds into the classroom on a regular basis is a good idea, but some say they don’t have the space to implement the proposal. ADVERTISEMENT VIDEOPRINT White Earth Reservation Tribal Council WHITE EARTH RESERVATION TRIBAL COUNCIL LOVE WORKING WITH CHILDREN? BECOME A TEACHER AT THE CIRCLE OF LIFE SCHOOL. COMP SALARY & BENEFITS! VIDEOPRINT Northwest Technical College NORTHWEST TECHNICAL COLLEGE 88% OF GRADUATES ARE HIRED IN THEIR FIELD OF STUDY, OR CONTINUE TO PURSUE A BACHELORS DEGREE PRINT Join Our Growing Team! JOIN OUR GROWING TEAM! HIRING ENTRY LEVEL GENERAL LEDGER ACCOUNTANT! COMPETITIVE COMPENSATION AND GROWTH OPPORTUNITY! PRINT Family Healthcare FAMILY HEALTHCARE SEEKING A DENTIST FOR NEW, BEAUTIFUL & MODERN FACITILY! GREAT PAY/BENEFITS + TUITION REIMBURSEMT. VIDEOPRINT Mayville State University MAYVILLE STATE UNIVERSITY COMPLETELY ONLINE, ACCELERATED RN TO BSN PROGRAM FOR CURRENT RNS NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR FALL VIDEOPRINT Rural Minnesota CEP RURAL MINNESOTA CEP JOB FAIR APRIL 9 3-6PM COME JOIN US PRINT CUSTOM EXECUTIVE HOME IN PRESCOTT AZ NO MORE FREEZING IN THE WINTER! VIDEOPRINT Voyager Industries VOYAGER INDUSTRIES VOYAGER INDUSTRIES, BRANDON MN SEEKS A MARKETING COORDINATOR VIDEOPRINT White Earth Reservation Tribal Council WHITE EARTH RESERVATION TRIBAL COUNCIL LOVE WORKING WITH CHILDREN? BECOME A TEACHER AT THE CIRCLE OF LIFE SCHOOL. COMP SALARY & BENEFITS! VIDEOPRINT Northwest Technical College NORTHWEST TECHNICAL COLLEGE 88% OF GRADUATES ARE HIRED IN THEIR FIELD OF STUDY, OR CONTINUE TO PURSUE A BACHELORS DEGREE PREVIOUS NEXT VIEW ALL OFFERS | ADD YOUR BUSINESS Gov. Mark Dayton wants to spend about $348 million, nearly a fifth of Minnesota’s budget surplus on creating a universal preschool program for Minnesota’s 4-year-olds. That would make Minnesota one of just a few states to offer universal, full-day pre-K. In a nutshell, here’s what the local superintendents said: Frazee-Vergas has the space available and welcomes the opportunity to expand its existing programming for 4-year-olds. Waubun-Ogema-White Earth will have to do some tweaking but has some extra space in its early childhood center and could make the proposal work. Detroit Lakes and Lake Park-Audubon just don’t have the room to expand to cover all 4-year-olds for five hours a day. Detroit Lakes hopes to solve the problem through a school construction project.

Iowa school board votes to tear down historic building
-- Associated Press,

Iowa: March 28, 2015 -- OSAGE, Iowa (AP) — The Osage School Board has voted to tear down the last of the historic Cedar Valley Seminary buildings to make way for an expansion on the Lincoln Elementary School site. The Mason City Globe Gazette reports that the vote last week was unanimous. Mary Hanke, of Stacyville, urged the board members to consider historic grants that could help restore the building. But board members said no one had come forward to offer to move the building. Known in its heyday as “Old Central,” the 1869 building was the anchor for what was considered a college preparatory school.

Communities find new life for shuttered school buildings
-- Maggie Menderski, The State Journal-Register

Illinois: March 28, 2015 -- Class has been dismissed permanently at some area schools, but for many communities, that’s when the work truly begins. Buildings that once served as focal points in towns often let school out forever as populations dip, schools consolidate or new technology strains old infrastructure. Some towns rally to reinvent the abandoned schools, while others watch the structures crumble through shattered windows. Many school districts lack the resources to tear down the empty buildings, so they may go up for auction, leaving the problem in a buyer’s hands. Nearly 20 public schools within 70 miles of Springfield have closed in the past decade alone. Few other concepts fit the multiroom mold of the standard school, but throughout the region, some have been converted into homes, apartment buildings or community centers. Meanwhile, others have rotted, had emergency demolitions or burned to the ground.

Brooklyn will use reserve funds to pay for $400K school fire alarm replacement
-- Francesca Kefalas, The Norwich Bulletin

Connecticut: March 28, 2015 -- If voters at an April 7 town meeting approve $400,000 to replace the fire alarm systems at the schools, the project will be paid for out of town reserve funds, officials said. First Selectman Rick Ives said the town has limited options because of the mid-year appropriation and the timeliness of the project. “We either have to use the reserve or do a tax adjustment,” he said. “It would take too long to bond the project.” Town and school leaders hope the project can be completed in the summer. Bonding would add significant time, Ives said. Sending out a supplemental tax bill is not an option, he said. The project would replace the fire alarm systems in every school building. The Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and the town’s Capital Committee have all approved the project to go to town meeting. Board of Finance Chairman Gene Michael Deary said the hope has always been that the town could pay for the project through the general fund. The recently completed audit confirmed the town had a $457,122 surplus to return to the general fund. Most of the surplus is the result of higher than expected revenues on the town side and lower than expected expenses on the education side.

Rock Island County voters to decide on the schools facilities tax
-- Anthony Watt, Dispatch Argus

Illinois: March 28, 2015 -- Rock Island County voters will decide April 7 whether to approve a one percent increase in the sales tax to support school building projects. The revenue from the proposed tax would be used exclusively for school facility needs and would be divided among the county's school districts based on their enrollment. Proponents say the tax, if approved, is expected to generate about $11.5 million for county school districts annually. All of the districts have traditionally supported the measure and contend the added revenue will support their facilities, including improving physical security measures and maintenance/renovation efforts. "Safety and security is probably the top of the list," Mike Thoms, a supporter, said recently. "You can prop a door open at schools and nobody would know a door is open at some of them.The number of entrances there are at schools is just a great amount so it's hard to police them all."

After-hours access to school facilities questioned
-- Staff Writer, Daily Commercial

Florida: March 28, 2015 -- Several times a year, Lake County Commissioner Welton Cadwell receives complaints from residents about difficulties using school facilities after hours and during the weekends. “It seems like every time someone has tried to do that there is some type of hiccup,” he said. Cadwell, who is serving his sixth term, addressed similar concerns to fellow commissioners at Tuesday’s County Commission meeting. Cadwell said he has no doubts that the Lake County School Board and superintendent want residents to use the facilities when they are available. “I want to make sure in the real world that it is happening,” he said. “The general feeling when (residents) talk to me is that it is not an easy process as you would think by just looking at the (school facilities) policy.” Lake County School Board members said they have made changes to the district’s school facilities policy to grant more access to residents, charge no fees for student groups, allow athletic leagues to use their fields and provide easier access to general liability insurance for events. However, critics question the policy’s effectiveness when the decisions about granting access are left up to the principals at each school. Some grant access and others not as open to the idea.

Why does a new Lee high school cost $50 million?

Florida: March 28, 2015 -- It's hard to imagine 50 million dollars. That's the estimated cost of the Lee County School District's new high school slated to open in Bonita Springs at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. The price tag has raised eyebrows — especially because the Lee County School Board plans to seek a half-cent sales tax to finance the building. So what's included in that $50 million, and could the school be built for less? What many people don't realize is that that number represents the "total project cost," said Reggie Snell, Lee Schools' director of construction. "That includes everything," he said. "It includes construction, the cost of the land, any additional site development that we may have to do, all our permitting costs, all of the furniture and technology ... anything that at the end of the day we walk into the building and it's ready." An elementary school in Lee County has a total project cost of $25 million, and a middle school is closer to $40 million. But a high school, Snell said, is a much larger and more complex facility. The future Bonita Springs high school, for example, would encompass 2,000 students and close to 282,000 square feet. It will be almost identical to Island Coast, other than upgraded technology and energy-efficient appliances.

Raimondo urges aid for school construction
-- Linda Borg, Providence Journal

Rhode Island: March 28, 2015 -- NEWPORT, R.I. — Governor Raimondo on Friday made her case for lifting the state's school construction moratorium at the Pell Elementary School, the last school built before the ban was imposed by the General Assembly three years ago. The school, near the Community College of Rhode Island and the Newport Bridge, is energy-efficient, full of natural light and student friendly, with its colorful tiled walls and striped floors. It is spacious without feeling cavernous. Raimondo pitched the need for clean, safe and modern classrooms as more than an educational need but an economic development necessity. New school construction, she said, will create jobs in the building trades at a time when Rhode Island is struggling to reduce its unemployment rate. Rhode Island lost 2,700 jobs in February, although the unemployment rate dropped by two-tenths of a percentage point to 6.3 percent. "We have a responsibility to provide warm, safe schools to our children," she said during a news conference at the school. "Many kids are in schools with leaking buildings, peeling paint. Lifting the moratorium is about closing equity gaps." In her proposed budget, Raimondo wants to set aside $90 million the next fiscal year to tackle the most pressing building issues facing Rhode Island's public schools. Going forward, the state would earmark $80 million annually to both build schools and bring existing schools up to current standards. The governor also called for the creation of a capital fund of $20 million, to help districts reduce debt.

St. Johns County School District weighs options for managing growth
-- JAKE MARTIN, The St. Augustine Record

Florida: March 28, 2015 -- The St. Johns County School District is serving 1,600 more students this year with no new schools under construction. About 800 new students are already projected for next year, with fewer than 400 permanent seats to spare. Tim Forson, deputy superintendent of operations, said the lack of capital outlay funding and bonding capacity doesn’t change the reality of growth. Principals from 14 schools have requested 82 additional relocatables for next year. Another 17 units are on advance request for the following year. Forson said 42 of the relocatables are already being built and that the request nearly doubles numbers from recent years. Patriot Oaks and Valley Ridge academies, which opened this year, requested 12 and 20 units respectively. In the meantime, the quick fixes of the past are only getting older. According to the Five-Year District Facilities Work Plan, 216 relocatables are scheduled for replacement by 2018-19. “It needs a solution,” Forson said. “It’s an inequity if you compare that with any other type of facility.”

New law will require school to conduct lockdown drills
-- Kyle Jones, WMTW

Maine: March 27, 2015 -- LEWISTON, Maine —Active shooter trainings in schools for emergency responders are becoming a common practice, and now so are lockdown drills for students in Maine. A new law will require schools to include those drills among the required fire drills each year. "The legislation that's passed reflects a new reality, and that is that among our biggest safety concerns in schools now," said Bill Webster, superintendent of Lewiston Schools. State Sen. Nate Libby said it makes school that weren't practicing lockdowns take part in an important new drill. "Up until now, it was all voluntary so the state only requires fire drills to be done," Libby said. The drills are just one part of overall safety efforts in Lewiston. Several schools under went renovations, including in-room door locks and shatterproof glass. "We spent over $100,000 a couple of years ago just to make sure all of our school classrooms are up to date with that capability," Webster said.

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