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

Auditor: D.C. school system’s capital program lacks accountability
-- Michael Alison Chandler, Washington Post

District of Columbia: July 1, 2015 -- The District government has failed to adequately monitor its school modernization program, leading to violations of multiple laws designed to improve transparency and accountability, according to a report being released Wednesday by the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor. The report, covering fiscal years 2010 through 2013 and $1.2 billion in spending, found that the Department of General Services and D.C. Public Schools did not provide basic financial management, allowing for the misuse of taxpayer funds. “Across the city, public school students are benefiting from modern, new facilities, and there is much to commend in the priority given to school construction,” said D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson. “But District resources are finite. We owe it to taxpayers to see that modernization funds are spent well and prudently, to assure our ability to complete the task of upgrading all of our schools.” The capital program came under new scrutiny this year after dozens of school projects were pushed back in the renovation queue in Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s $1.3 billion, six-year school construction plan. The changes were the result of major cost overruns and a slowdown in capital spending as the city prepares to pay down what amounts to a major debt load after several years of aggressive borrowing.

-- Amara Pinnock, YEP

District of Columbia: June 30, 2015 -- I teach at a school in Ward 8, and every day I drive past dilapidated school buildings in the area. When I attend professional development seminars in school buildings in other parts of the city, they look nothing like the building I teach in. Those schools have amenities that, unfortunately, my school building in Ward 8 doesn’t claim: walls to separate each classroom, new doors in all of the doorways, ample technology for each classroom, and no sign of rodents. It is a travesty that in our nation’s capital, so many of our schools are falling apart, particularly in neighborhoods serving the neediest student populations.

No summer break for school maintenance crews
-- Hannah DelaCourt,

North Carolina: June 29, 2015 -- SOUTHEASTERN N.C. -- The halls have emptied and the classrooms remain mainly dormant for schools in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties as students and teachers settle into their first few weeks of summer vacation. But for school maintenance staff, work is just getting into full swing. At Wrightsboro Elementary, crews started ripping up tile flooring and replacing it June 16 -- the day after teachers left, said Chris Peterson, director of maintenance in New Hanover County Schools. While summer can last about 3 months for students, Peterson said there is really only about 8 weeks from the time teachers are gone to complete major projects that might either be too loud or disruptive to students while school is in session. This summer Peterson said the list of repairs is long like usual. But for bigger projects, such as the one at Wrightsboro Elementary, the school district contracts work out. He said by contracting big projects out, his staff is able to be more productive and complete projects in a timely manner.

Plan for more solar arrays underway at Santa Fe schools
-- Chris Quintana, Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico: June 28, 2015 -- The Santa Fe school district plans to leverage a combination of state and federal money to install nearly $4 million worth of solar arrays, the district’s largest solar-energy project to date. The district already has solar arrays at eight schools. These provide about 5 percent of the energy used by the school system and cut energy bills by $115,000 annually, district officials said. But the newest project will be much bigger. The plan calls for arrays at four schools, which could cut $750,000 from the district’s annual power cost. ‘This just hasn’t been done before,” said Lisa Randall, the district’s energy and water conservation coordinator. The Santa Fe school board approved the locations for the solar collectors last week. The plan calls to install carports topped with solar panels at Ortiz Middle School, César Chávez Community School and Ramirez Thomas Elementary. But the Santa Fe High School project is far larger. The largest arrays will cover parking areas adjacent to the school’s stadium. Others will be scattered throughout the campus.

Camp Pendleton schools may lose construction funding
-- Pat Maio, The San Diego Union-Tribune

California: June 27, 2015 -- CAMP PENDLETON — Fallbrook Union Elementary School District may lose $72 million from the Department of Defense to rebuild two blighted schools at Camp Pendleton because it can’t raise an $18 million matching grant from the state before a 2016 deadline, district officials said. Since the Pentagon issued a study four years ago that noted two public elementary schools on the base needed a complete overhaul, funding possibilities for the work have slowly evaporated. That’s despite nearly $945 million that has been spent on an ongoing program to rebuild or remodel 170-plus schools on U.S. military bases throughout the country. Last year — when it looked like the Fallbrook district might get a slice of that federal money — school board trustees approved a $4 million contract with an architectural firm to begin design work on new K-8 campuses for the overcrowded and aging May Fay Pendleton School and San Onofre School campuses. The Department of Defense’s Office Economic Adjustment pledge up to $72 million for the $90 million work, on the condition that Fallbrook officials come up with the remaining $18 million. That’s where the district has run into trouble.