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


Repair Bill for Decaying Detroit Schools Could Top $50 Million
-- Corey Mitchell, Education Week

Michigan: February 8, 2016 -- The outgoing emergency manager of the Detroit public schools estimates it would cost more than $50 million to address the immediate maintenance issues in the district's aging buildings. In the meantime, the district has begun using money budgeted for other departments to fix the most urgent building problems. The district announced Monday that $300,000 will be redirected to handle existing work orders, property maintenance, and safety violations uncovered by the city during recent inspections. "The district remains committed to making the necessary repairs to its buildings in order to provide our students and staff with a clean, safe environment in which to learn and work," Darnell Earley, the district's emergency manager, said in a statement. Earley's statement did not indicate what departments the funds were diverted from. The district has faced withering criticism in recent weeks because of the poor condition of many of its schools. Under orders from Mayor Mike Duggan, city workers have inspected about half of Detroit's nearly 100 schools, uncovering issues with mold, rodents, and broken glass.


Rains wreak havoc on Los Angeles school roofs
-- Mike Kennedy, American School & University

California: February 8, 2016 -- Rainstorms last week in Southern California have put a big strain on maintenance workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The Los Angeles Times reports that after rains from El Niño descended on the area, workers in the nation's second-largest district were inundated with rain-related service requests. As of Friday, the district had a backlog of 1,167 unresolved rain-related issues. Most of the reported problems are attributed to leaks from aging roofs in a number of the school system's 13,000 buildings. Maintenance officials say workers can address only 40 to 50 service requests, leading to a significant backlog.


Florida House moves to curb school construction costs, support charter school capital projects
-- Jeffrey S. Solochek, Tampa Bay Times

Florida: February 8, 2016 -- Rep. Erik Fresen's pledge to "address the overspending of school districts on school facilities" takes a step forward Tuesday, when the House Appropriations Committee takes up a sweeping measure that would force districts into construction spending limits while also sharing local capital projects tax revenue with charter schools. The proposed committee substitute for HB 873, which surfaced over the weekend, would prohibit districts from spending more per student station than outlined in statute, restricting their access to state PECO funding if they exceed the amounts. It further would give charter schools that meet set criteria, such as being in operation more than two years, a percentage of the local property tax that currently goes to districts only.


Helena school board meets Tuesday; trustees to focus on educational vision before facilities
-- MARGA LINCOLN, Independent Record

Montana: February 7, 2016 -- At Tuesday night’s Helena School Board meeting, the trustees plan to share insights they gained at their recent board retreat with facilitator Virginia Tribe exploring board governance. The board meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9, at Ray Bjork Learning Center, 1600 8th St. What they learned in the retreat is causing them to take a step back from facilities planning to first focus on the district’s educational vision, said board chair Aidan Myhre. “We need more clarity.” The board intends to use two upcoming board retreats in March and April to outline the educational pieces in more detail before it takes the next steps in school facilities planning. School facilities should match the district’s educational vision, said Myhre. For instance, the district can’t promote more rigorous science standards if it doesn’t have science labs or classroom sinks needed for the classes. “I think people want a stronger science program,” she said. “What do we need to make that happen?” She also noted that art and music programming have facility needs, as well.


LW Parent Group Insists School Closing Decision be in Court's Hand
-- LAUREN TRAUT, Frankfort Patch

Illinois: February 6, 2016 -- It’s not up the Lincoln-Way District 210 Board of Education whether one of the district’s schools should close, an attorney representing infuriated parents argued in court Thursday. Lincoln-Way Area Taxpayers Unite previously filed a lawsuit asking the court to intervene to stop the closing of Lincoln-Way North High School. The district fired back with a request for dismissal, but the parent group isn’t backing down. On Thursday, the group’s lawyer spat back that the school board does not have “unfettered discretion,” and therefore the final decision rests in the hands of the court. The group maintains its position that the board’s August 2015 decision to close the eight-year school was “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.”