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


School Facilities Commission considers long-term funding
-- Aerin Curtis, Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Wyoming: December 19, 2014 -- CHEYENNE - Wyoming may be heading for a larger discussion of school financing. Members of the Wyoming School Facilities Commission heard updates at their meeting Wednesday on two studies looking at long term-funding for the department and its projects. One study, being done with the University of Wyoming, is looking at the funding expected to come into the School Facilities Department and the department's predicted expenses through about 2022, according to study information. "We had approached the University of Wyoming about the idea of developing an algorithm to model for us, to help predict a little better where we'll be over the next few biennia," School Facilities Director William Panos said. Looking ahead, the group from UW has found a gap between the predicted expenses of the department and the revenue generated by the current funding sources, Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy Director Robert Godby said. "The long and the short of the analysis was the gap that we estimated between the revenues and the costs going through to 2022 would be $676 million," he said. "About 51 percent of that is through the 2018 biennium, so we're not looking at the current fiscal biennium, (in) which we actually forecast a surplus." The gap starts to develop as the money brought into the department decreases while school district building work continues, he said. "Unfortunately, the revenue to this agency, which worked for a long time, is fundamentally on coal lease bonuses," he said. After those bonuses end in 2017, the funding coming into the department is currently capped at $26 million, Godby said. The report does predict that the general expenses for the department will drop in a few years as fewer major building projects are needed, he said. But, according to the report, the funding levels needed during that maintenance period will still be around $187 million to $200 million.


Chubbuck council rejects putting T-Mobile cell tower at school playground
-- Mike Petrovsky, Idaho State Journal

Idaho: December 18, 2014 -- The Chubbuck City Council voted 3-1 Wednesday night to deny a request by T-Mobile to build an 80-foot-tall, single-pole cellphone tower on a playground at Chubbuck Elementary School. Councilman Ryan Lewis made the motion to deny the cellphone company’s plan because the city ordinance regarding cell towers requires T-Mobile to explain to the city why the company chose a school site, which is ranked No. 10 or last in a top 10 list of possible locations for a cell tower over the nine other higher ranked general locations in the ordinance. Councilman Kermit Morrison cast the lone no vote on the measure, but refused to comment when the Journal asked him why. Councilman Josh Ellis went along with Lewis’ motion, even though he opposed the tower because T-Mobile was asking the city to waive a requirement in the ordinance that the tower be located at least 100 feet from all nearby structures. In one instance, the tower plan allowed for only an 80-foot distance. Ellis believes the company should have presented advice from a third or neutral party to explain why waiving the requirement was necessary as, according to his interpretation, is a condition stated in the ordinance. The city received 12 formal appeals from residents opposed to the tower. Six of those residents spoke before the council during a comment period Wednesday night. In all, about 30 people attended the meeting. One homeowner told council he was concerned about the tower ruining the neighborhood’s aesthetics and would thereby lower his property value. Other concerns residents voiced were those involving young children being exposed to radiation generated by the tower and the possibility the tower would collapse and hurt the children in the playground.


SCHOOLS DEVELOPMENT AGENCY'S CHIEF CITES GAINS, ACKNOWLEDGES CHALLENGES
-- John Mooney, NJ Spotlight

New Jersey: December 18, 2014 -- While a number of projects are in the works, funding for Abbott districts is running low – and is virtually depleted for non-Abbott school projects While the Schools Development Authority, under new leadership, continues to make strides in winning support and getting school projects off the ground, it now faces a bigger challenge: the school construction agency is running low on money. SDA representatives came before the Legislature’s Joint Committee for the Public Schools yesterday – and they managed, by and large, to quiet what has been a drumbeat of criticism of the agency ever since Gov. Chris Christie all but halted its work for two years.


Caddo proposes building three, closing six schools
-- Alexandria Burris, The Shreveporttimes.com

Louisiana: December 18, 2014 -- Caddo schools officials are planning to close six schools to build three new ones, buy new buses and upgrade facilities throughout the district. But first the district will need approval from the Caddo Parish School Board to ask voters to approve a bond proposition to reallocate an existing tax. If voters approve, the proposal would permit the district to issue up to $108 million in bonds and reallocate one-mil of a six-mil tax currently used to pay off previous bond issues. The bonds would be issued in series and each issue would have a life of 20 years. Jim Lee, the school district's chief financial officer, said the bonds would be issued in increments. The proposal, district officials say, allows the school district to operate more efficiently, create better educational opportunities for students, eliminate unnecessary facilities not needed to house the district's students, prepare for population shifts, upgrade technology to focus on STEM instruction and career education and rid the district of temporary buildings.


Group protests school closures, takes over board meeting
-- George Lettis, WBALTV 11

Maryland: December 18, 2014 -- Baltimore City's school board meeting Wednesday night was one to remember. It featured a protest over the closure of some schools, and then those protesters took over the meeting. City school leadership has said that closing some schools is part of the district's bigger plan to address enrollment and building renovations, but a group of graduates said they think there's a different agenda, and they caused the meeting to take a bizarre turn. Citing low performance, declining enrollment and other issues, the Baltimore City School Board voted Wednesday night to close five schools after the end of this school year: Heritage High School, Dr. Rayner Browe Elementary-Middle School, Langston Hughes Elementary School, Northeast Elementary-Middle School and W.E.B. Dubois High School. The board decided to table the decision on Abbottston Elementary School until a later time. But seconds after the board unanimously voted to close Heritage, some of its graduates staged a protest in the middle of the meeting. "The School Board has failed us," the group of about a half-dozen young people said while holding their hands in the air. When the board tried to move on, the group interrupted again, staging a die-in and likening the closure of Heritage to the recent high-profile cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. "Hands up! Don't shoot," the protesters said while lying on the ground in front of board members. "The education system, there is no value on black life in this country. That's nothing new, it's not a secret. It's the status quo, which is why these things are allowed to happen," said Heritage graduate Antwain Jordan.