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


Equity in funding public schools still eludes policymakers
-- Maureen Downey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia: September 18, 2016 -- At least seven commissions have attempted to remedy school funding inequities in Georgia without success, a record not atypical for school finance reform across the country. In most states, school funding relies on property taxes, which hinge on local will — how much a local community is willing to tax itself for education — and local capacity — how much those taxes will raise — rather than how much it actually costs to educate a child. As imperfect as the approach may be, Americans seem reluctant to break with it, likely because it works for higher-income communities. Those communities contend they should be able to provide greater resources for their schools if their taxpayers are willing to do so. States attempt to equalize disparities in high- and low-wealth areas, but a gap remains. During the 2017 legislative session, Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to seek changes to Georgia’s decades-old school-funding formula based on his own recent reform commission but it’s doubtful he will delve too deeply into the property tax debate. No one else has.


'Nickel tax' dollars being used to renovate, build school facilities
-- Erin Schmitt, The Gleaner

Kentucky: September 18, 2016 -- Parents and other visitors may have noticed a portable sign posted outside some schools that says "Your Nickel Revenue" at work. The sign is moved from school to school where renovation or construction projects funded by Henderson Schools' nickel tax are underway. Construction to replace Spottsville Elementary has started and is by far the most visible project being undertaken with capital outlay funds. However, most of the nickel tax money is being used for less-noticeable projects like replacing lighting, roofing and HVAC systems -- things that won't be visible to people driving by the schools.


After Texas high school builds $60-million stadium, rival district plans one for nearly $70 million
-- Marisa Gerber, Chicago Tribune

Texas: September 17, 2016 -- On Fridays the football faithful gather, setting up grills and tailgating for hours in a vast parking lot before packing into the stadium built with rose-colored brick. The high-definition video screen towering over one end zone magnifies their favorite players, and the three-tier press box offers a panorama of the field below. The cost: $60 million. The home team: The Eagles of Allen High School. In bigger-is-better Texas, Eagle Stadium, which rivals the Staples Center (home of the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers and Kings) in capacity with 18,000 seats, gives the suburban Dallas high school serious bragging rights. But in the battle of one-upmanship among Texas high schools, a challenger is rising close to home. The school district just up the street in McKinney plans to break ground within a month on a nearly $70-million stadium — the newest competitor in a spend-off critics call a stadium arms race. “Oh, it’s a rivalry,” said Adam Blanchet, a junior at McKinney North, one of the three high schools in the McKinney Independent School District that will use the new stadium. “I have pride knowing my district is going to have the most expensive stadium in the country.”


MAYOR WALSH ANNOUNCES UPDATES TO BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOL FACILITIES
-- Staff Writer, City of Boston

Massachusetts: September 16, 2016 -- BOSTON - Friday, September 16, 2016 - As Boston Public School (BPS) students complete their first full week of classes, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the physical improvements made to Boston Public Schools, overseen by BPS's Capital & Facilities Management and the City of Boston's Public Facilities Department. The investments, totaled at over $89 million, are funded primarily through Building a Better Boston, Mayor Walsh's $1.9 billion five-year capital plan. "I'm proud to highlight the progress we have made in improving our Boston Public School buildings as students begin their school year," said Mayor Walsh. "These improvements reflect the City's dedication to providing the best resources for Boston's schools and students." "At Boston Public Schools, we are enthusiastic about welcoming students, teachers and administrators back for the 2016-2017 school year," said BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang. "These projects, both completed and ongoing, will create an improved learning environment for all."


California Backs $9 Billion School Bonds Blasted by Brown
-- Romy Varghese, Bloomberg

California: September 16, 2016 -- California is poised to take advantage of near-record low rates and its highest credit rating since 2001 by borrowing to fix crumbling schools. Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, who helped lead the turnaround to surpluses from deficits, doesn’t want it to. Voters in the most-indebted and populous state will decide in November whether to approve $9 billion in general obligations for school construction and modernization, the first statewide education-debt measure in a decade. They have approved about $40 billion of such bonds since 1998, and an April poll showed most respondents support the latest one, which would also aid community colleges and technical programs. A coalition of education advocates and building industry representatives, with backing of politicians across the Golden State, pushed for the proposition and raised $8.9 million. While Brown has characterized it as a "developers’" bond that would deepen inequities in a state where high rates of poverty collide with Silicon Valley riches, no money has been donated to oppose it. The measure is just one of 17 statewide questions Californians will consider on Election Day, and it comes after the state used budget surpluses brought on by the growing economy to pay down debt, helping win credit-rating upgrades. Other questions include extending a tax increase on the wealthy and requiring statewide approval for revenue bonds exceeding $2 billion.