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

PSD plan: Build three new schools by 2020
-- Rob White, Coloradoan

Colorado: March 26, 2015 -- Construction of two new high schools — one boasting an athletics complex — plus a new elementary school, is included in a long-range planning proposal introduced late Tuesday by Poudre School District Superintendent Sandra Smyser. The plan presented Tuesday to PSD's Board of Education will be updated over time and won't be voted upon until March, 2016. It is designed to help the district relieve school-capacity pressure and anticipate future growth, particularly in the district's southeast and northeast sections. As Larimer County's population expands, PSD expects enrollment to grow to more than 30,000 within the next two years. Enrollment in 2015 came in at 29,053, about 500 students more than projected. One new high school and athletics complex is slated for the district's 100-acre site on Prospect Road east of Interstate 25. The new elementary school would also be located east of I-25. A second high school is planned for the Wellington area. Each would open by 2020, with the high schools opening as combined middle schools and high schools. Bond funding, which would be voted upon in fall 2016, would likely be required to fund the new schools, said PSD spokeswoman Danielle Clark. The district's existing voter-approved funding supports previously identified facilities improvement work in the district through 2020, Clark said.

St. Regis school maintenance engineer making a difference
-- Colin Murphey, Mineral Independent

Montana: March 26, 2015 -- ST. REGIS – As the students and staff at the St. Regis High School go about their daily tasks like taking tests, giving tests, studying for ACTs and SATs, worrying about who to take to prom and all the other things that happen on a daily basis at this school, it might be easy to take for granted the work of one man who arrives at the building before they even get to the bus stop or their parking spot. But for John Pienciak, the work he does isn’t meant to be noticed or necessarily appreciated (although it is by many). It’s just his job and what that job entails is making sure things work at the high school in St. Regis. From making the sure the gym floor sparkles for the next home game to making sure light fixtures provide a safely lit facility, Pienciak goes about his rounds doing what is necessary beginning in the wee hours of the morning. Pienciak, who hails from New Jersey originally and who has called Montana home for the last eight years, said for him, his position as maintenance supervisor for St. Regis High School affords him the opportunity to put his skills to use for a worthy cause. “I maintain the whole building inside and outside,” Pienciak said. “I do painting, cleaning…whatever it takes. I fix the boilers, fix the tractor.” Pienciak gets to the school at 6:30 a.m. every morning. He said he starts by getting projects out of the way that might otherwise cause commotion that could disrupt normal school operations and then it’s business as usual performing whatever tasks are required that day. But he doesn’t just stop at fixing the building and making sure things run smoothly. He also makes time to help students when they have something that needs fixing.

Enterprise BOE approves school rezone plan
-- Michelle Mann, The Southeast Sun Enterprise

Alabama: March 26, 2015 -- The rezoning of Enterprise elementary and junior high schools was officially approved at a Board of Education meeting Tuesday, March 17. The rezoning became an agenda item as part of a three-phased capital plan which included the closing of two schools, opening a new school, doing a grade reconfiguration and an effort to attain socio-economic equity across the school system. Enterprise City Schools Superintendent Dr. Camille Wright outlined the process that had gone into devising the zoning lines and called the project “a real balancing act.” Wright said a facilities assessment had been conducted with consideration of enrollment projections, capacity of each school and the socio-economic status across the 6,800-student district and each individual school. “The rezoning effort has been a very difficult process,” Wright said, adding that the school system had retained the services of an Atlanta, Ga., demographer to have a “third party objective person” to assess the situation.

25 Public Schools Awarded School Garden Grants to Increase Student Exposure to Healthy Food Choices
-- Victoria Holmes, OSSE

District of Columbia: March 26, 2015 -- (Washington, DC) – The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) announced today that 25 District of Columbia public and public charter schools have been awarded school garden grants, totaling $360,595. Through the School Garden Grant Program, under the DC Healthy Schools Act, six additional schools will plant new gardens and introduce students to new nutritional foods, how their food is grown and the physical and enjoyable benefits of gardening. “Increasing access to educational tools that teach students to make healthy choices is essential to child development,” said State Superintendent Hanseul Kang. “We are extremely pleased that our school garden program continues to grow in the District to demonstrate the importance of firsthand learning experiences that develop lifelong healthy habits.” With107 active school gardens in the District, this grant aims to support schools and the 37.4 percent of children in DC who live in households that are food insecure, according to DC Hunger Solutions. The funds will establish a school wellness committee and a school garden coordinator for both new and active school gardens in order to implement school garden and farm to school programming and integrate overall wellness in to the mission of the schools.

Senate panel moves school bond bill
-- Kimberly Beltran, Cabinet Report

California: March 26, 2015 -- (Calif.) A plan to put a statewide bond measure on the 2016 ballot to help pay for new school construction and modernization projects moved ahead Wednesday in action before a key legislative panel. Concurrent to approval of SB 114 by the Senate Education Committee, the Secretary of State’s office announced that proponents of a separate initiative calling for a $9 billion school facilities bond to go on the same ballot were cleared to begin collecting the signatures needed to put that measure before voters. Lawmakers appear poised to press the bond issue using either vehicle. “The winding down of the current program and the governor’s call for change presents an opportunity to rethink the administrative and programmatic structure of the state’s facilities program, and to better align the program design with the state’s policy objectives,” said committee chair Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Canada Flintridge, the bond bill’s author. Officials have been trying for the last several years to figure out how to salvage the state’s School Facility Program, which uses cash from the sale of voter-approved, general obligation bonds to match school district contributions for new construction, modernization or other types of facility projects such as seismic repair or overcrowding relief. That program, administered through the Office of Public School Construction, has since 1998 doled out some $35 billion in matching grants to schools but the funds are now depleted. The last statewide school bond was passed in 2006.