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

Interim schools and construction up ahead for Portland students as bond work continues
-- Laura Frazier,

Oregon: August 22, 2015 -- Many Portland Public Schools students will return to class Thursday at a temporary school or one under construction as three buildings are overhauled with about $236 million in bond funds. Roosevelt High, Franklin High and Faubion K-8 School are being revamped as part of the district's 2012 bond program. Work is well underway at Roosevelt and Franklin high schools, where about 60 percent of the schools will be modernized and 40 percent will be newly constructed, said Jim Owens, school modernization lead. Faubion School will be demolished this fall and rebuilt. Faubion School and Franklin High students will spend the next two years at transitional sites, whereas Roosevelt High staff and students will work around construction crews. Owens said projects are on track and new schools should be ready for students by fall of 2017. Owens' last day with the district was Friday and the district is looking for his replacement.

Maintenance woes plague schools
-- Mike Taylor, Calaveras Enterprise

California: August 21, 2015 -- With a budget that’s still tenuous and enrollment at their schools still in decline, Calaveras Unified School District trustees Tuesday heard they need more than $5 million to catch up on maintenance issues plaguing their campuses. Joe Cruz, the district’s maintenance and operations supervisor, presented trustees with a report that details what’s needed at each of the district’s schools that dot the northern half of the county. All told, he said that Calaveras Unified has over $5.2 million worth of deferred maintenance projects. Cruz began by describing the difference between routine maintenance – the replacement of lightbulbs, broken doorknobs and the like – and what’s referred to as deferred maintenance projects in school district parlance. Those deferred projects can include flooring and roof replacement, heating and air conditioning unit replacement and painting schools inside and out. The California Legislature and governor in 2008 stopped sending school districts any funds specifically earmarked for deferred maintenance. Cruz said he directed his staff of six to note issues they saw on school grounds. Cruz visited each school and spoke with administrators to make sure everything was included.

School district lays out $150 million tentative 10-year plan for capital projects
-- JAKE MARTIN, The St. Augustine Record

Florida: August 21, 2015 -- The St. Johns County School District released a tentative list of capital projects totaling $150 million to potentially be funded over the next 10 years. Tim Forson, deputy superintendent of operations, called it a “high-needs list,” although not necessarily a complete list. “What we know today is not what we might know five years from now or even three years from now,” he said. The projects outlined include $106 million for three new K-8 academies, one elementary school and two school expansions. Forson said many of the items on the list will be necessary regardless of whether a ½-cent sales tax increase is approved by voters on Nov. 3. “What it means is either some of these would be delayed or some of these would displace other projects,” he said. “Some may not happen at all.” Demands of high growth over several years have resulted in cases of deferred maintenance and site improvements at older schools. About $14 million in maintenance projects for existing facilities were included in the list.

Gas explosion at NYC high school leaves several injured
-- Ben Feuerherd, C.J. Sullivan and Natalie Musumeci, New York Post

New York: August 20, 2015 -- A thunderous gas explosion rocked a Manhattan high school building Thursday night, injuring three contractors – one critically – who were working to fix up the sixth floor science lab, authorities said. The blast happened at the former John F. Kennedy High School in Marble Hill at around 8:10 p.m. Mayor de Blasio, who showed up at the scene with FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, called it a “shocking scene.” “The sixth floor had tremendous damage. There will be a thorough investigation,” de Blasio said. The explosion ripped through the fourth, fifth and sixth floors, blowing out windows and causing extensive damage. An official who spoke to the injured workers said “a contractor was doing work with a blow torch and must have hit a gas line.”

Iowa City schools phase out modular classrooms as district grows
-- Mark Carlson,

Iowa: August 20, 2015 -- IOWA CITY — Leaders with the Iowa City Community School District hope to phase out all modular classrooms by the year 2023. They took a step toward that goal Thursday as leaders cut the ribbon at Alexander Elementary on Sycamore Street in Iowa City. “We are growing and we’re struggling to keep up in terms of new classroom space,” said superintendent Steve Murley. The new elementary school will be home to nearly 400 students during the upcoming school year, with the capacity to add over 100 more students down the road. The opening of Alexander Elementary means modular, or temporary, classrooms at Grant Wood will no longer be necessary. The district has a total of 33 modular buildings at over a dozen schools, plus a 10-plex complete with classrooms, restrooms and lockers. Murley said there are several issues with operating modular buildings, including increased costs to operate. Murley also noted that with the exception of the 10-plex, none of the buildings have running water, so students must leave them, often in inclement weather, just to use the restroom.