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

Starr proposes changes to school facility planning guidelines
-- Lindsay A. Powers, Maryland Community News Online

Maryland: October 22, 2014 -- The Montgomery County school system’s guidelines for planning future school construction projects may undergo several changes, including ones that would affect preferred enrollment and school site sizes. Superintendent Joshua P. Starr released Oct. 15 his proposed changes to a regulation concerning long-range facilities planning, which was last updated in 2008. One series of changes would shift the enrollment ranges the school system prefers for schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels. The current elementary school enrollment range stands at 300 to 750 students, and would change to 450 to 750 students. The middle school range — now 600 to 1,200 students — would become 750 to 1,200 students. If changed, high school enrollment would increase to a range of 1,600 to 2,400 students. The range is currently 1,200 to 2,000 students in the regulation. Exceptions would be possible both below and above the ranges, said Bruce Crispell, director of the school system’s Division of Long-range Planning. The school system’s average enrollments are 565 students at elementary schools, 874 at middle schools and 1,816 at high schools. At all three levels, Crispell said, schools with larger enrollments are able to offer more classes and programs and operations are more cost effective. The county’s high schools need to be built to address increasing enrollment, he said.

Parents: Bronx Housing Boom Could Crowd Classrooms
-- Cassandra Basler , NY City Lens

New York: October 22, 2014 -- Dozens of primary school kids clustered together, ready to head home, as their backpacks bumped against each other in the cement courtyard at P.S. 214 on a recent Monday afternoon in West Farms. Meanwhile, middle school students finished their lunch in the cafeteria, where elementary school students used to line up for dismissal, said PTA President Migdalia Moure, 56. Two schools—and more than 1,000 students—occupy P.S. 214’s three-story building in the Bronx. That’s nowhere near overcrowding levels in other schools. At the Walton Avenue School in the South Bronx, for example, nearly 260 primary school students attend classes in an area built for 60, according to a recent article in the New York Post. But the big number of students does cause a bit of confusion on occasion. “The dismissal gets a little crazy sometimes,” said Moure, whose 7-year-old grandson is a second grader here. “But other than that, we share good.” Overcrowding may not be an issue in schools like P.S. 214 now, but it could get a whole lot worse in a few years. By next fall, students at P.S. 214 will study down the street from the construction zone of the Bronx’s largest private real estate development to date: a 1,300-unit, 10-building mixed-income housing project called Compass Residences. The development company, Signature Urban Properties, plans to break ground on two buildings down the street from the school in June 2015. The project would bring more than 200 new tenants to the former industrial zone— and more potential students. Neighborhood residents and community activists worry an already crowded public school building may be further squeezed with hundreds of new residents’ kids. “We are trying to plant the seed for people and start raising awareness now. In another five years we are going to have thousands of units and today, the schools are totally overcrowded,” said Ivine Galarza, the manager for Community Board Six that includes West Farms. According to Galarza, the time to address school overcrowding is now, before the influx of new students further strains school resources in West Farms.

Pasadena Unified School Board will vote on school boundary changes; will not include school closures
-- Sarah Favot, Pasadena Star-News

California: October 21, 2014 -- PASADENA >> After months of discussion about possible school closures and consolidations, the Pasadena Unified school board will not consider closing any district school Thursday night when it votes on new school attendance boundaries. “We’re not discussing any school closures for 15/16 (school year),” said PUSD spokesman Adam Wolfson. A steady enrollment decline since 2000 has caused many district schools to be below its recommended enrollment size. The school board tasked the Master Planning and Boundaries Committee with analyzing enrollment and other data to make recommendations about school boundary changes. School boundaries have not been adjusted in more than 10 years. The proposed changes affects attendance boundaries for all but two of the district’s schools. Wolfson said the proposed boundary changes will only affect incoming kindergarten students, not students already enrolled at a school. “No child will move schools,” he said. Potential school closures are not off the table. The committee will also recommend that the board direct interim Superintendent Brian McDonald to recommend any school closures or consolidations. He must make recommendations to the committee by January.

CPS to announce the first sale of a shuttered school
-- Lauren FitzPatrick , Chicago Sun Times

Illinois: October 21, 2014 -- Chicago Public Schools will announce on Wednesday the first sale of the 47 school campuses it shuttered in a massive 2013 closing — selling Peabody Elementary School on the near Northwest Side for about $3.5 million, district officials confirmed Tuesday. It’s also putting several more shuttered schools on the market, Chief Operating Officer Tom Tyrrell said. Peabody, a property of two buildings in the 1400 block of West Augusta Boulevard, will be sold to a private developer who plans to split the property with the Northwestern Settlement should the Board of Education approve the sale at its monthly meeting. The property will be split, with half going to Northwestern as a community center with services such as child care, workforce development and after-school programming, and the other half going to a developer believed to be interested in building homes. But the district failed to find a buyer for the former Marconi Elementary School building, 230 N. Kolmar, and the former Wentworth Elementary School, 6950 S. Sangamon, put out to bid during the summer, Tyrrell told the Sun-Times on Tuesday. “The bidder has to do two things. Offer one of the two highest bids. The other thing is it has to conform to community preference” determined by the alderman, he said. Marconi in East Garfield Park, which the alderman wanted to become an alternative school to educate dropouts, had just one bid, he said. Meanwhile the shuttered school is costing the district about $47,000 a year. CPS also will put out to bid the former Trumbull Elementary School, 5200 N. Ashland, in Andersonville; Near North, 739 N. Ada, in River West, and Overton Elementary School, 221 E 49th St., in Bronzeville. And it is considering the cost of moving the overcrowded Decatur Classical School currently at 7030 N. Sacramento into the building at 4525 N. Kenmore, which used to house Stewart, he said. That building costs about $79,000 a year to maintain as empty. Sixteen months after their doors closed for the last time, 37 of the 47 emptied campuses remain (that’s 41 of 52 buildings), Tyrrell said, adding that some will prove tougher to sell than others. The listings come with conditions as determined by aldermen, who were supposed to hold community meetings to see how residents wanted the buildings used.

NYU Extends Construction Deadline for Proposed Bleecker St. Public School
-- Danielle Tcholakian, DNAinfo New York

New York: October 21, 2014 -- GREENWICH VILLAGE — A proposed public school in Greenwich Village is back on the table, after New York University agreed on Tuesday to give the city more time to decide whether to build it. NYU had offered the 130 Bleecker St. site to the city as part of the university's $6 billion expansion plan, on the condition that the Department of Education commit to building a school there before the end of 2014. With that deadline rapidly approaching and the DOE showing no sign of claiming the site for a public school, City Councilwoman Margaret Chin and residents pushed NYU to extend the year-end deadline so that the city would not risk losing the space for a future school. On Tuesday, NYU agreed to extend the deadline to the end of 2018, according to a letter NYU senior vice president Lynne Browne sent to Chin's office. "I know how important the matter of an extension for the School Construction Authority (SCA) to decide on the Bleecker Street site has been for you, and you know how much we respect your role as an elected official," Browne said in the letter. "So I am glad to be able to convey that NYU will extend the time period during which the SCA may decide if they need the site."