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Schools hope state match triggers building boom
-- Jeremy P. Kelley , Dayton Daily News

Ohio: October 14, 2016 -- Aging buildings with no air conditioning, ailing mechanical systems, leaky roofs and substandard technology are among the reasons five local school districts are seeking money on the Nov. 8 ballot to build new schools. Xenia, Fairborn, Valley View, Jefferson Twp. and Preble Shawnee are all trying to take advantage of a funding match from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. The state program contributes a multimillion-dollar share of local projects if voters agree to cover the rest via bond levies. The number of school building issues locally is higher than in any election this decade. School officials say the building upgrades would dramatically improve the learning environment for students. “Every time it rains, water is coming through certain areas of the roof and the walls into the hallways. Would that affect you at your work?” Fairborn Superintendent Mark North asked. “Or if your computers are not working, or the heating system is not working right? … It’s not a good environment for learning or for teaching either.”

Five firms fined $825K for school construction fraud
-- Justin Murphy and Brian Sharp, Democrat & Chronicle

New York: October 13, 2016 -- Five contractors that worked on Rochester's massive school renovation project have agreed to pay $825,000 in fines as punishment for allegedly skirting rules regarding the use of minority- and women-owned businesses, New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Thursday night. The firms reported they had sub-contracted with minority- and women-owned businesses (M/WBEs) for a portion of their materials or labor, as required by law. In fact, according to a whistleblower and Schneiderman, they actually got the materials and labor from non-eligible firms, then in some cases gave the M/WBEs a kickback in exchange for falsified documentation. "These contractors engaged in flagrant schemes that flouted the diversity rules they were required to meet, and in the process, denied minority- and women-owned businesses a fair shot a winning valuable sub-contracts," Schneiderman said in a statement.

Boston Public Schools envisions future of education and school facilities
-- Jule Pattison-Gordon, The Bay State Banner

Massachusetts: October 12, 2016 -- School Committee officials have put the spotlight on current and future conditions of Boston Public Schools facilities. At last week’s meeting, BPS officials presented survey findings in which many respondents reported a desire for renovations, more spaces for special education students’ needs and bathroom improvements. Casting an eye to the future, Superintendent Tommy Chang presented a vision of a fluid educational system in which learning is less tied to specific classrooms and buildings and features designs that engender team collaboration. The presentations also provided an unintentional spot-check on BPS’s abilities to reach and involve stakeholders; many School Committee members critiqued BPS’ Community Engagement survey on current facilities because it brought in a small number of responses compared to the wider school population and because respondents were disproportionately English-speaking white parents.

Major fixes needed for high school buildings
-- Kevin Forestieri , Mountain View Voice

California: October 12, 2016 -- Mountain View and Los Altos high schools may look radically different in the coming years as the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District prepares for an onslaught of 500 additional students at campuses already packed to the brim. But adding new classrooms is really just one piece of the puzzle: A new report shows some of the school buildings are decades past their prime, crumbling and badly in need of replacement. The 200-page facilities report from the firm Quattrocchi Kwok Architects revealed that although the district has done a good job maintaining school buildings dating back to the 1950s and 1970s, time has taken its toll. The small gym at Los Altos High School, for example, is plagued with problems -- the walls are cracked, stained and water-damaged, the roof is falling apart, and there are signs that the structure has dry rot. In a roundabout way, the report suggests that district officials might need to tear down the gym. "Future master planning should evaluate the useful life and functional appropriateness of the small gym," according to the report. "Considering adjacent portable classrooms, demolition in this area may allow for future growth and facilities."

Frisco ISD considers keeping 4 new schools closed next year to cut costs
-- Valerie Wigglesworth, The Dallas Morning News

Texas: October 12, 2016 -- Fast-growing Frisco ISD faces a financing conundrum: While it has the funds it needs to build new schools, it does not have enough money to operate them. The elimination of a state fund next year, combined with voters' rejection in August of a tax rate hike, have the district looking to trim about $30 million in operating costs in the 2017-18 school year. One possibility under consideration to help balance the budget: delaying the opening of one — or all — of the four new schools under construction. The school board will hold a work session Thursday night and is scheduled to vote at its Monday meeting. District staffers will recommend keeping all four new schools closed. That would save the district slightly more than $15 million. But those savings would come at a cost. That "means our existing schools become overcrowded, which puts pressure on the whole system," Superintendent Jeremy Lyon told state legislators at a hearing last month.