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

State construction money available for private schools
-- Jesse Yeatman, Southern Maryland Newspapers Online

Maryland: April 18, 2014 -- The state government again next year will offer $3.5 million to private schools to make repairs to facilities. This year, seven private schools in St. Mary’s County received a total of about $63,000 in public funding during the renovation program’s first year. The state also provides money each year — including $6 million this year — for nonpublic schools to use for textbooks and computer hardware and software. Any school eligible for the textbook money can apply for the construction grant money. The textbook money for nonpublic schools was first put in the state budget as a one-time expenditure, but became an annual expense to the state. The construction money could be headed the same direction. Del. John Bohanan (D-St. Mary’s) said the governor included the nonpublic aging schools money in next year’s budget and, despite a lot of opposition from House of Delegates members, it remained in the budget. “We looked out for it and shepherded it through,” Bohanan said, crediting himself and Del. Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore). The capital budget this year also includes $8.1 million for the aging public schools program, which is distributed based on a formula incorporating the average age of local public schools. The state also funded nearly $350 million for school construction, including new schools and renovation work.

New Orleans school building repair fund bill clears House committee; $1.8 billion investment underway
-- Danielle Dreilinger,

Louisiana: April 17, 2014 -- A bill to maintain New Orleans' newly built and renovated public school buildings cleared the Louisiana House Education Committee Wednesday with no opposition. The city's two school systems are collaborating on HB 941, which was sponsored by Rep. Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans. The Recovery School District took over most of the public schools from the Orleans Parish School Board after Hurricane Katrina. Leger called it "a school facilities preservation program." The Orleans Parish School Board never had a dedicated funding stream for facility maintenance; when the storm hit, most of the buildings were in a deplorable state. Now the city is in the middle of an unprecedented school rebuilding plan paid for by $1.8 billion, mostly from FEMA. State and local officials pledge that by 2017, every child will be in a new or renovated school. But the FEMA funds don't cover maintenance, leading to concern that the new buildings could crumble over decades just like the old ones did. Leger said it was important to protect them. "Not making that kind of investment in maintenance eventually costs us more dollars in the long run," he said.

D.C. parents raise questions about funds for at-risk students, school renovations
-- Emma Brown, Washington Post

District of Columbia: April 17, 2014 -- Also a subject of much discussion Thursday was Gray’s proposal to spend $400 million for school renovation projects next year. Many parents complained that Gray’s plan delays renovations that had previously been planned for next year. “Our school has so many issues that need to be addressed,” said Bernetta Reese, a parent at Watkins Elementary on Capitol Hill. The school’s fire alarm system is not up to code and there is no sprinkler system, Reese said, while its faulty heating system leaves students shivering in winter coats on cold days. Catania signaled that he will seek to fund promised renovations at Watkins and other schools by shifting money away from a proposed renovation of the old Spingarn High. Gray is seeking to spend $62 million during the next two years to reopen Spingarn as a vocational education center with a special focus on training for transportation-related careers. Catania said it makes no sense to spend those capital dollars on Spingarn because another career-oriented school — Phelps ACE High — is next door and underenrolled. Ann McLeod, a parent leader at Garrison Elementary in Logan Circle, said that modernization decisions seem to be random and politically motivated and that the constant shifting of renovation schedules — and testifying before the council -- takes parents’ time and energy away from volunteering in schools. Garrison’s renovation funds have been yanked and restored several times in recent years, and the school is now scheduled to be fully modernized by fiscal 2016, a victory that McLeod compared to surviving a plane crash in which others are not as lucky. “We don’t understand what happened or why, and why we are the ones who survived and others did not,” McLeod said, adding that decisions should be driven by hard data and transparent analysis. “There is currently no strategy whatsoever in the whole modernization planning.”

Prince William capital improvements plan includes 20 new schools
-- Amanda Stewart, InsideNova

Virginia: April 17, 2014 -- In the next 10 years, Prince William County school officials plan to build 20 schools, complete an extensive renovation at one school and build additions to 11 schools. The school board recently adopted its capital improvements plan, which includes plans for school construction projects to be built now through fiscal 2024. The plan is based on enrollment projections for the county’s elementary, middle and high schools. As of Sept. 30, 2013, 85,055 students were enrolled in county schools, up 1.8 percent from 2012 enrollment, according to school division enrollment data. School officials are projecting that enrollment will reach 87,108 students next year, and will climb by more than 10,500 students in the next five years. To make room for more students, school officials plan to build new schools and, where possible, to build classroom additions to existing schools, according to the capital improvements plan. In September, two new schools, Haymarket Elementary School and The Nokesville School, a kindergarten through eighth grade school, are slated to open. Additions to River Oaks Elementary and Parkside Middle schools and a renovation at Dumfries Elementary School are also slated to be complete for September 2014.

Grand Forks Air Force Base to close school
-- Staff Writer, SFGatecom

North Dakota: April 16, 2014 -- GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — The Grand Forks Air Force Base School Board has voted to close an elementary school to deal with declining enrollment on the northeastern North Dakota base. Starting next school year, students from Carl Ben Eielson Elementary School will go to Nathan F. Twining Elementary and Middle School. The move ends years of debate and will save the base and Grand Forks school districts more than half a million dollars annually, KNOX radio reported. "I know it was a difficult decision for the school board to make," Grand Forks Public Schools Superintendent Larry Nybladh said in a statement. "However, it speaks to their resolve to find efficiencies." There currently are about 350 students on base, down from a peak of about 1,500 in 1995, when the base still had its KC-135 air refueling tanker mission. The base lost that mission in the last round of military base closings, in 2005. It has since gained a smaller unmanned aircraft mission but still has lost about half of is population and is down to about 2,400 people.