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PK-12 Public Educational Facilities Master Plan Evaluation Guide
Use this guide to learn school facilities master plan standards and rate your school district on their use of the guide's standards in planning.

For Generations To Come: A Leadership Guide to Renewing Public School Buildings
This guide provides a framework for community involvement in the complex process of modernizing or building new public school buildings.


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Texas schools spare no expense for huge football stadiums
-- David Warren, The Boston Globe

Texas: April 29, 2016 -- A suburban Dallas school district grabbed national attention in 2012 when it opened an eye-popping $60 million high school football stadium. Not to be outdone, school officials near Houston next year plan to unveil a $62 million stadium plan. And a district north of Dallas is considering spending more than $50 million on its own football arena. Are such exorbitant price tags for high school stadiums the new normal? Only in Texas, it seems. Football fields in other states are far less expensive, often in the range of $5 million to $10 million. One Southern California district built four stadiums for about $72 million. Texas school officials say their districts are teeming with new students and that the stadiums reflect their communities’ need for larger, more modern facilities. ‘‘The size dictated the cost, no question,’’ said Tim Carroll, spokesman for the Allen school district, which built the $60 million stadium about 25 miles northeast of Dallas. ‘‘Some say we build things with no concern for expense, with columns made of marble, but that’s not the case.’’ Many of the facilities are designed to serve multiple schools and multiple sports and host special events. And they should last for generations.


Whitehall Schools want more state aid to ease overcrowding
-- Jim Siegel, The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio: April 29, 2016 -- The student population problem at Whitehall Schools now has the Ohio School Facilities Commission questioning whether it needs to change a long-time rule and give the district more money. The last of Whitehall’s new $78 million school buildings, of which 61 percent was paid for by the state, opened just two years ago. But the moment the doors opened, the facilities were over-capacity, even after the state approved an expansion of the original 2008 design. In 2013, three new elementary schools built to house 1,275 students were already 250 students over capacity. And it’s only getting worse — district enrollment is currently 113.5 percent of capacity and is projected to reach 128 percent by the 2021-22 school year. Experts say when a school's capacity exceeds 90 percent it's too crowded to allow flexibility for students and programs. “We’re an exceptional case in many ways,” Superintendent Brian Hamler told the Facilities Commission on Thursday. He tried to persuade members to change a rule that would not make Whitehall eligible for more state funding until 2019. That means new classroom space wouldn’t be open until about 2022. “We cannot educate over 900 students in a middle school built for 652 … and we are more dependent than ever on the (state) to provide assistance,” he said.


Some Fresno schools will double as parks on weekends
-- TIM SHEEHAN, The Fresno Bee

California: April 29, 2016 -- Fresno hopes to augment its documented shortage of open city park space by working with school districts to open their campuses for recreation use on weekends starting this summer. The Fresno City Council approved an agreement Thursday with the Central Unified School District for weekend use of playground areas at Steinbeck and McKinley elementary schools in the western part of the city. An agreement between the city and the Fresno Unified School District for the use of 14 elementary, middle and high school sites is expected to be approved in May. All but three of the school sites are south of Ashlan Avenue, and in areas that have been identified as underserved by city parks. Manuel Mollenedo, the city’s director of parks, after-school, recreation and community services, told the council that the agreements will open up between 350 and 400 more acres of green space for residential recreation. Mollenedo described the joint-use plan as “extremely exciting” and a “bold decision in trying to not only provide additional green space for the entire community of Fresno but also, in a very dramatic and cost-effective way, attempt to deal with the parkland shortage that this community faces.” Late last year, the City Council earmarked $1.2 million to establish weekend recreation and fitness programs at the school sites. On Thursday, the council rejected both of the bids it received from outside organizations to run those programs, instead opting to have Mollenedo’s parks/recreation department handle the chores.


Md. panel considers how to build a better school building
-- Tamela Baker, HeraldMailMedia.com

Maryland: April 28, 2016 -- ANNAPOLIS — Aging schools, population shifts and changing educational needs — not to mention changes in the economy — present new challenges as state and local governments try to keep up with construction and renovation needs. A new state panel looking into the methods and costs of school construction met for the first time Thursday in Annapolis, and got an overview of current funding and construction requirements. The 21st Century School Facilities Commission, which includes state officials and private-sector professionals, will spend the next seven months reviewing building specifications, construction practices, enrollment, maintenance and financing to make recommendations for future projects in the state's 24 public-school systems. Key to the discussions will be how curricula and technology will change the way schools educate students, said state Sen. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, and building facilities with the flexibility to handle it.


Oakland County school districts say funding is inadequate
-- Anne Runkle, Oakland Press

Michigan: April 28, 2016 -- One of the boilers at Lake Orion High School doesn’t work. It would cost $20,000 to repair it and $30,000 to replace it. Wes Goodman, facilities manager for the Lake Orion Community Schools, says the building has several other boilers that keep everyone comfortable. But all the boilers were installed when the building opened in fall 1996. Others could go at any time, he said. “I always tell my staff that we need to keep the dollars in the classroom,“ he said. But at the same time, he knows that students’ learning experience is affected by their environment — including staying warm in the winter. The Lake Orion Community Schools Board of Education voted 5-2 Wednesday to ask voters to approve a sinking fund of two mills for 10 years for building upgrades and repairs. A mill equals $1 in tax for every $1,000 of taxable value. A number of bond issues or sinking fund millages will appear on the May and August ballots throughout Oakland County. Many districts that aren’t placing school building fund questions before voters in those two elections have put them on the ballot over the past year. About a dozen of Oakland County’s 28 school districts already have a sinking fund. Michigan state law requires that school districts use that term.


D.C. offers small historic school, huge parking lot for lease and redevelopment
-- Michael Neibauer, Washington Business Journal

District of Columbia: April 27, 2016 -- The District has a school it would like to lease you. And a much larger parking lot. The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development has released a solicitation for the long-term lease and redevelopment of the historic Alexander Crummell School site in Ivy City, a 108,000-square-foot parcel bounded by Okie, Kendall and Gallaudet streets NE. The site, 1900 Gallaudet St. NE, is one block west of Douglas Development’s Hecht Warehouse District, a block south of New York Avenue NE, and just northeast of the D.C. Department of Public Works campus on West Virginia Avenue — a site slated for redevelopment as the DPW headquarters, plus retail and commercial space for the private sector. The school building was designated a D.C. landmark and listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. While it requires exterior restoration, it should be retained. The parking lot, however, accounts for the vast majority of the site. It is currently leased to the Union Station Redevelopment Corp. for bus parking, but the USRC has never used it for that purpose (litigation put an end to that), and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is now negotiating to end the lease.


State to Crack Down on Wasteful School Construction Spending
-- Allison Nielsen, Sunshine State News

Florida: April 27, 2016 -- A newly-signed law aims to curtail wasteful public school construction spending in the Sunshine State, and it could have a big impact on schools statewide. When House education budget chair Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, found out Florida schools were overspending on construction costs, he vowed to do something about it. School districts have always had limits from the state on how much they could spend to build new infrastructure, but there were no caps on local spending for school construction projects. The current caps were established 10 years ago and were set to around $22,000 per student for elementary schools, $23,000 per student for a middle school, and around $30,000 for a high school. Bolstered by a report which found Florida’s 67 school districts have spent more than $1.2 billion more than they should have over an eight-year period from 2006 to 2014, Fresen sponsored legislation to cut back on construction spending.


Billion-dollar question: Can Modesto rebuild and do it better?
-- Nan Austin, The Modesto Bee

California: April 26, 2016 -- Modesto City Schools is pushing forward to transform teaching into an interactive, collaborative process. But its early-grade campuses are stuck in another century, and as the district makes plans for major repairs, there seems to be little appetite to shake the status quo. If the district wants voters to get behind $1 billion in school repairs, however, it has to convince them it can set aside its fiefdoms and rethink how it has always done things. On many levels, the school district cannot afford to simply patch up what exists today. For one thing, it costs too much. Bulldozing the buildings and starting over in many cases would be cheaper. Perpetuating the same design, moreover, fails to convince anyone the district is serious about equity. Inescapable comparisons show glaring disparities between new and old, the north and the south. As retired Sylvan district school facilities planner Henry Patrino put it, “Something has to happen, or the kids that need it the most will be getting the least.” The district did a needs assessment of cracked pavement, deteriorating pipes and peeling paint at its 34 schools and five administrative sites, toting up a jaw-dropping total of $746,803,000. Add in architects, engineers and permits, and it rounds up to a $1 billion investment to create a shiny version of what was, just with better wheelchair access and reliable plumbing. But there were greater needs the assessment did not cover, such as reinventing the spaces for how schools function now, or flexibility for what they might do in the future.


Excessive lead levels reported at 6 schools in Tacoma, Wash.
-- Mike Kennedy, American School and University

Washington: April 26, 2016 -- A day after the Tacoma (Wash.) district disclosed that two schools were found to have extremely high levels of lead in their water, officials revealed that tests at four more schools showed high lead levels. Meanwhile, the district’s safety and environmental health manager, who is responsible for monitoring test results, apparently failed to report the excessive readings to district administrators, and has been placed on paid administrative leave. The Tacoma News-Tribune reports that the district has alerted parents of students at Whittier, DeLong and Manitou Park elementary schools and in the Madison Head Start program that tests performed in 2015 showed high lead levels in isolated area of those schools.


Six more Memphis schools to close; three others get one-year reprieve
-- Micaela Watts, Chalkbeat

Tennessee: April 26, 2016 -- The Board of Education for Shelby County Schools voted Tuesday evening to close three more Memphis schools and revoke the charters of three others, while opting to give three additional charter schools another year to improve their test scores. All nine schools had been on the chopping block as part of cost-cutting and school improvement measures aimed at low-performing or under-enrolled schools. Ultimately, the board chose to close the three charters on the state’s priority list of the 5 percent of lowest-performing schools in Tennessee. The board also approved plans to rezone two schools and reconfigure grades at one other as part of the district’s strategy to retain students at three struggling schools being taken over by the state-run Achievement School District. The changes could allow the shrinking district to partially plug the exodus of students — and per-pupil funding — to the state’s school turnaround district, which Shelby County officials say has contributed to the local district’s $86 million projected funding gap for next year.

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