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


School Facilities - Heat and Learning
-- Sarah D. Sparks, Education Week

National: June 12, 2018 -- Students who learn in hotter classrooms perform worse on college-admissions tests, according to a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Researchers tracked 10 million high school students who took the PSAT multiple years between 2001 and 2014. On average, students improved their score by a third of a standard deviation by retaking the test. But a student's performance dropped by nearly 1 percent of a year's worth of learning for every degree Fahrenheit hotter the outside temperature was during the school year before a student took the test. The effect was three times as strong for low-income, black, and Hispanic students. In schools with air conditioning, 75 percent of the declines associated with hot days disappeared.


Manchester Committee Discusses Which Schools To Close, Which To Fix
-- Jesse Leavenworth, Hartford Courant

Connecticut: June 12, 2018 -- A committee charged with drafting the second half of a school modernization plan met Tuesday to discuss how many elementary schools to renovate and enlarge and how many to close. The SMARTR2 panel, made up of leaders from the town and school district, is trying to arrive at an optimum number and size of elementary schools. Members agreed they need to continue discussion on whether to recommend closing one or two current schools and whether to convert one school to a districtwide preschool. The panel is to meet again in July, with the goal of holding public hearings in September. Voters approved an $84 million bond issue in 2014 for the first phase of the school modernization project. That work is to be completed next year. The panel that drafted the plan, the School Modernization and Reinvestment Team Revisited, has been revived as SMARTR2 to plan the second phase and bring a proposal to voters at referendum in April.


Guy Sconzo, guest columnist: Fast-growing Texas schools need state support
-- GARY SCONZO Guest columnist, Waco Tribune-Herald

Texas: June 9, 2018 -- For decades, the Texas business climate has beckoned outsiders to pack up and move to the Lone Star state in search of a better way of life, a better place to work and a better place to raise a family. It’s great news for Texas businesses and the state’s economy. It also means an ever-growing student population in our Texas schools — a good problem to have, but with it comes a unique set of challenges. In Texas, there are 75 fast-growth school districts, representing only 7.3 percent of all school districts statewide. However, these same districts enrolled 33.4 percent of all Texas students and 80 percent of all new students. It’s clear these fast-growth communities — where many of the business relocations, expansions and job growth are happening — are at the heart of Texas’ economic engine. And ultimately, for the school districts, that means not only more students but a dramatic demand for more facilities, faculty and jobs. It’s not difficult to see that public schools — especially our fast-growth school districts — are doing our own part to contribute to the “Texas Miracle.”


Bartlett High Joins Wave of School Construction
-- Bill Dries, Daily News

Tennessee: June 8, 2018 -- Though summer break has started, some of the school-year buzz remained on the campus of Bartlett High School this week as a group of adults gathered with ceremonial shovels for a groundbreaking. Student-athletes came and went from other parts of the sprawling 26-acre campus that has been home to Bartlett’s only high school for more than a century. “Now the fun starts,” said Bartlett Schools superintendent David Stephens, as he and other school system and civic leaders broke ground on a two-year, $60 million renovation of the campus.


Walla Walla School District appoints bond oversight committee
-- Sheila Hagar, Union-Bulletin.com

Washington: June 8, 2018 -- If Walla Walla voters give a thumbs up to the $65.6 million bond option on November’s ballot, a group of 10 people is already in place to ensure Walla Walla Public Schools spends that money as promised. This week, the Walla Walla school board approved membership of an independent bond oversight committee, a group that will monitor how, when and where bond money is spent. It’s not something required by state law or policy, said Walla Walla Public Schools Superintendent Wade Smith. “However, I believe a citizens’ oversight committee is crucial during school bond projects and have implemented them before with great success,” he said. School districts must be completely transparent throughout an entire bond process, Smith said. And creating an independent committee fills that need by providing accountability and guidance, he explained. Walla Walla’s committee consists of parents and business owners as well as financial and construction experts, said school district spokesman Mark Higgins.


What It's Like To Design And Build A High School During The #NeverAgain Movement
-- Mary Louise Kelly, NPR

Wisconsin: June 6, 2018 -- What is it like to design and build a new high school during the #NeverAgain movement? NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks to Dean Gorrell, superintendent in Verona, Wis., about how his team had to rethink the building of their high school after Parkland.


Cleveland schools ask parents to lobby state for school construction money
-- Patrick O'Donnell, The Plain Dealer

Ohio: June 6, 2018 -- CLEVELAND, Ohio - The Cleveland school district is asking parents and the public to lobby state officials to preserve some state funding of the city's school construction project. District CEO Eric Gordon and Chief Operating Officer Pat Zohn used much of a community meeting Tuesday night at Gallagher Elementary School on the West Side to lay out details of the district's ongoing fight with the state over school construction costs. See their presentation below. They then urged the crowd of 50 parents, teachers and other residents to call their state legislators, the governor's office and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) - the state panel overseeing state-funded construction - to oppose a cap on state construction aid. They even called on residents to attend an August 16 OFCC event in Independence and that board's regular quarterly meeting on October 25 in Columbus.


IPS to ask for $52 million from taxpayers for school safety on November ballot
-- Rafael Sanchez, rtv6 ABC

Indiana: June 6, 2018 -- INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Public Schools is moving ahead with one of its plans to ask Indy homeowners to agree to a tax hike to support city schools. The capital referendum now will allow the district to raise $52 million for school safety projects and maintenance instead of $200 million they were initially going to ask for. The $52 million would be used for capital expenses including 2,500 retrofitted doors, new lighting and strengthening windows with a special film and fire safety improvements across the district.


Facility fragility: Schools have limited options to maintain athletic facilities
-- VICTOR FLORES, MagicValley.com

Idaho: June 3, 2018 -- WENDELL – Wendell High School’s 42-year-old gymnasium shows its age. Paint is peeling off the bricks on the outside wall. Inside, some of the ceiling tiles have water stains. There’s a hole in one of the tiles, probably from a student who kicked a ball up there, said Troy Fletcher, Wendell School District maintenance coordinator. Several bleacher sweats have cracks. Fletcher has been focusing more on fixing doors throughout the high school, and there’s one glaring example of a future project at the east entrance of the gym. The glass pane in one of the doors is out of place. Instead of filling out the entire pane, the glass looks like someone pushed it down a few inches, creating a gap at the top. The list of small but noticeable issues at the school almost overwhelms Fletcher – largely because he can’t see any major fixes on the horizon. “They give me a budget, I have to work with it. I stay within that budget,” he said. “I guess it’s always been tight around here.” From 2014 to 2016, four bonds proposed by the Wendell School District failed. A large chunk of the bond money would have gone toward the gym, which was in need of a new roof. Every time the bond failed, district officials feared the gym would be condemned.


Anoka-Hennepin, Minnesota's largest school district, begins work on its biggest construction project ever
-- Kelly Smith, Star Tribune

Minnesota: June 2, 2018 -- The sound of construction crews hammering away will echo throughout the north metro for much of the summer as a historic school building project gets underway. Voters approved the largest school referendum in Minnesota history for Anoka-Hennepin schools last fall. The record $249 million plan will make over or add on to every one of the district’s 38 buildings and construct two elementary schools in fast-growing Ramsey and Blaine. “This is pretty unprecedented,” said Chuck Holden, the district’s chief operations officer. “There’s nothing fluff in this request. There’s a real need here.”

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