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


School building approved for National Register of Historic Places
-- Staff Writer, The Journal

Minnesota: May 21, 2015 -- ST. PAUL - At its meeting on Tuesday, May 19, the State Review Board of the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) unanimously approved the nomination of the former New Ulm High School (more recently, ISD 88 District Administration Center) to be officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Representing three distinct eras, the building is an excellent representative of the transformation of public high schools in Minnesota during the period of significance, 1915-1965. When the school opened in 1915, its curriculum reflected Progressive Era reforms embraced by its new superintendent of schools, Herman C. Hess. The "newer education" placed emphasis on practical training for those students not on a college track. Plans for the building included significant space for rooms for instruction in manual training, home economics, teacher training, physical education, and business. During the Great Depression, the school board obtained funds for construction of major additions, including the auditorium, through the Work Projects Administration (WPA), aided by the leadership of Linus Glotzbach, a local lawyer who was first district, and then, state administrator for the WPA. Following World War II, in the midst of the national baby-boom years, district student enrollment nearly doubled over a 10-year span, and the city responded with an addition to the school, completed in 1956. The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation's cultural resources worthy of preservation.


West Fargo school building committee tackles enrollment explosion
-- Wendy Reuer, Inforum

North Dakota: May 20, 2015 -- WEST FARGO – A 40-person community task force has five meetings to come up with a plan for facilities that can accommodate the West Fargo School District's expected 60 percent growth during the next 10 years. The Long Range Facility Planning Committee, which is made up of teachers, principals, parents and community members chosen by Superintendent David Flowers, met for the first time Wednesday night. The committee will explore ways the district can keep up with student enrollment that is projected to grow by 500 to 600 students each year. The group is charged with presenting a plan to the School Board by Aug. 10. The district faces overcrowding at the elementary level as early as the 2017-18 school year. To have another elementary school open by 2017, the board needs to open bids in 2016 and have a referendum passed as early as this November. "[The timeline] is a goal, it's an estimate to manage the work we have to get done," Flowers said. "This kind of process does take time. The paradox is that we don't have a lot of time."


Reversing its promise, CPS may allow charters to move into closed school buildings
-- Lauren FitzPatrick, Chicago Sun Times

Illinois: May 20, 2015 -- Chicago Public Schools will now consider allowing charter schools to move into shuttered school buildings, if there’s community support, despite a promise by CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett not to allow that, the district said Wednesday. Byrd-Bennett, who is currently on leave, had vehemently opposed adding charter school students to CPS buildings with too few children in 2013 to justify keeping them open. She promised repeatedly to the state legislature and community at large that charters wouldn’t move into the 50 schools she closed. “CPS continues to follow the commitment made during the 2013 consolidations to not permit closed school sites to be repurposed as charter schools,” spokesman Bill McCaffrey said. “We’ve also committed to a community-driven process to identify a future use for each former school site that meets the needs of the surrounding community.” “If a community determines that a charter school is a desired option, CPS will consider that option,” McCaffrey said. When she closed 50 schools, Byrd-Bennett pointed to the loss of school-age children, mostly in African-American neighborhoods on the South and West Sides. She reasoned that the district’s resources weren’t being used efficiently by supporting too many schools with too few students.


Wake County starts work on new student assignment plan
-- T. KEUNG HUI, The News&Observer

North Carolina: May 19, 2015 -- Wake County school board members asked administrators Tuesday to explore a new student assignment plan that would move students in or out of some elementary schools to help their academic performance. Administrators said that they didn’t intend to make new assignments for the 2016-17 school year specifically to balance achievement and poverty levels at individual schools – unless directed to do so by the board. Given the board’s response, the staff will now study ways to make assignment changes at 12 elementary schools that will be receiving extra resources because of their low student test scores. “Is assignment a tool that can be used in the support of those schools?” school board member Keith Sutton said. “I don’t know enough to know the answer, but it’s something worth at least thinking about, talking about. It may not. I’m OK with that.” Historically, Wake has tried to help lower-performing schools by reassigning some of their low-income neighborhoods to more affluent and higher-performing schools. Wake has less frequently moved students in affluent neighborhoods to lower-performing schools, because of the opposition from affected families. From the 1980s through the 2000s, Wake was nationally known for its efforts to bus students for diversity, first by race and later by family income. Since low-income students on average don’t do as well academically as more affluent students, the goal was to try to balance income levels in student populations.


D.C.'s Hospitality High School to be sold, converted to condos
-- Michael Neibauer, Washington Business Journal

District of Columbia: May 19, 2015 -- Plans have just been filed to convert the historic Hospitality High School building at 1851 Ninth St. NW into a 29-unit condominium complex. The building, designed by architect Albert Cassell, was constructed in 1932 for the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Grand United Order of the Odd Fellows in America. It has also served as home to the Maya Angelous Public Charter School and, currently, Hospitality High School. Hollow Creek Investment Group LLC of Potomac is the contract purchaser of the building, last acquired by Hospitality High School in June 2012 for $7.5 million. It is located in the Greater U Street Historic District, which protects it from major changes, especially on the outside. Per an application filed with the Board of Zoning Adjustments, the “history of the building proves that a school use cannot be sustained,” and “it is apparent that this structure requires substantial investment to permit the adaptive reuse of the building for residential use.” Hollow Creek will require significant variances from zoning regulations in order to proceed with the project. The 6,461-square-foot lot size, for example, would only allow for seven units, but Hollow Creek is requesting permission to build nearly 30. Seven units, per the application filed Tuesday, would be “excessively large and unmarketable.” A 29-unit structure “is required for the project to be financially feasbile.”