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

Detroit parents and students ask to be involved school closure decision
-- Bryce Huffman , Michigan Radio

Michigan: February 21, 2017 -- Detroit parents and students want the state to hear from them before closing their schools. Twenty-five public schools in Detroit could be shut down for having poor test scores. The state School Reform Office, which released the list of schools that might close, has yet to meet with parents or students from these schools.

Fishtown Schoolyard To Become Green Space
-- Steve Tawa, CBS 3 Philadelphia

Pennsylvania: February 21, 2017 -- An asphalt schoolyard at the Alexander Adaire School in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia (at Thompson and Palmer Streets), is being transformed into a green space. Like many older Philadelphia schools, Adaire has impervious surfaces, including its rundown asphalt paving. Schoolyard concept design by Ian Smith Design Group for Friends of Adaire. Rendering by Kirk Fromm. (Courtesy of The Trust for Public Land) Schoolyard concept design by Ian Smith Design Group for Friends of Adaire. Rendering by Kirk Fromm. (Courtesy of The Trust for Public Land) The $700,000 infrastructure project includes upgraded play equipment, and climate-smart trees and a rain garden to reduce storm-water runoff.

Farm to School and School Garden Fund Tax Check Off
-- BCT staff writer, Burlington County Times (N.J.)

New Jersey: February 21, 2017 -- New Jersey taxpayers have an opportunity to support Farm to School activities in the Garden State through the “Farm to School and School Garden Fund.” This check-off can be found on Line 64, number 19, on the New Jersey State income tax form. This new fund was established to allow taxpayers to donate a portion of their tax refund or make a contribution to help establish school gardens and purchase equipment and educational materials to promote students' consumption of local produce.

Water testing reveals elevated lead level at Alpine Elementary
-- Trudy Balcom, White Mountain Independent (Ariz.)

Arizona: February 21, 2017 -- ALPINE — The results of water testing from samples taken at Alpine Elementary School have revealed one sample with an elevated lead level. The tap at one sink in a school restroom showed lead levels at 23 parts per billion (ppb). The Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable lead level for tap water is 15 ppb. Shirley Brazel, administrator at Alpine Elementary, said the school only learned about the test results Thursday, but said they took steps to immediately address the problem.

Fla. Senate panel approves charter school facilities plan, but...
-- Travis Pillow , redefinED

Florida: February 21, 2017 -- A Florida Senate panel this morning approved a bill that, for the first time, would distribute local tax revenue evenly to charter and traditional public schools. But it also stalled a measure that would increase districts’ local taxing authority. And school districts argue that measure must be connected to the charter funding proposal. The ensuing debate raised new questions over how Florida lawmakers plan to overhaul school facilities funding for both charter and traditional public schools.

Proposed bill would allow charter schools to occupy empty, underutilized school buildings
-- Winnie Wright, KTHV

Arkansas: February 21, 2017 -- LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A bill in the 91st General Assembly would allow charter schools to move in to vacant or underutilized public school buildings.

Charter School Authorizing Panel Membership Requirements Stripped By Arkansas Senate
-- Jacob Kauffman, KUAR Public Radio

Arkansas: February 21, 2017 -- A bill to open-up membership in the public charter school authorizing panel to anyone in the public – without requirement – sailed through the Arkansas Senate on Monday. Currently the panel that makes recommendations on whether charter schools should open, close, or expand is made up of Department of Education employees.

BOE officials struggle with use of local school facilities
-- Heather Mullinix, Crossville Chronicle (Tenn.)

Tennessee: February 21, 2017 -- School officials want guidance on which community groups should be charged for use of school facilities and which should not. “What we run into are people who say, ‘This is for the benefit of the students of Cumberland County. It benefits our kids so why are we paying?’” Travis Isaacson, chief financial officer, said during the board’s work session Feb. 11. “We get people who say these are public facilities. ‘We pay taxes. Why should we pay to use the building?’

CMS names 11 schools to take students who opt out of long-struggling schools
-- Ann Doss Helms, Charlotte Observer

North Carolina: February 20, 2017 -- In a first public glimpse at details of a new transfer-out option, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools on Monday listed 11 neighborhood schools that will serve as alternatives for students who want to leave six chronically low-scoring ones. Five middle schools – Alexander Graham, Carmel, Crestdale, Mint Hill and South Charlotte – and six elementary schools – Barnette, Endhaven, Long Creek, McAlpine, Mountain Island Lake and Pineville – will offer seats to students who ask to leave six schools that have been on the state’s low-performing list for the last three years. The opt-out schools – Cochrane, Eastway, McClintock and Sedgefield middle schools and Sterling and Tuckaseegee elementaries – serve almost 5,000 students, most from low-income homes. Read more here:

Lawmaker pushes for more school choice money
-- Stacy M. Brown, Pocono Record (Pa.)

Pennsylvania: February 20, 2017 -- State Rep. Mike Turzai wants to expand school opportunities for students by increasing the state's public-private partnership education tax program. A bill introduced earlier this month by Turzai, R-28, was recommitted last week to the House Appropriations Committee as the representative looks for more support for his plan to increase the amount of tax credits available under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program by $50 million, which would bump the total available to $175 million.

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