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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.
Solar panels to save Long Beach Unified $2 million over next 25 years
Nadra Nittle, Press-Telegram
April 13, 2014
-- LONG BEACH >> Thanks to the newly installed solar panels at Cabrillo High, Long Beach Unified School District expects to slash its utility bills by $2 million over the next 25 years.
At the end of March, solar power system provider SolarCity completed the installation of more than 2,500 solar panels on top of carports at Cabrillo.
“The $2 million saved will come from an incremental difference in what utility would have charged and what the panels themselves will be producing over a 25-year period,” said Les Leahy, LBUSD’s business services administrator.
The 805-kilowatt system has been in the works at Cabrillo for just over a year, according to Leahy.
The school, located in the Santa Fe Corridor, isn’t the only Long Beach high school with solar panels. Both Millikan High and the newly opened McBride High have solar panels, but Leahy said that Cabrillo’s installation has the distinction of being the largest.
The district estimates that the panels on top of the carports will prevent roughly 28 million pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted annually over a 25-year period. The panels will also provide shade for drivers, which the district hopes will lower the amount of carbon emissions from vehicle air-conditioning. Long Beach Unified also predicts that the installation will conserve more than 130 million gallons of water because solar power does not depend on water to produce electricity.
School districts owed millions from state
SARAH HOFIUS HALL, thetimes-tribune.com
April 13, 2014
-- Delinquent state reimbursements may force school districts to hit taxpayers with increases, cut staff and programs or deplete meager reserves to make up the shortfall.
The state owes Carbondale Area, Mid Valley and Western Wayne school districts more than $2.6 million in reimbursements for projects completed as many as three years ago. The districts budgeted debt service payments based on what was expected from the state. State officials claim there is not enough state revenue to make the promised payments.
"We did all the financial planning that was necessary to build this building," said Western Wayne Superintendent Clay LaCoe, Ed.D. "We followed the rules by the state. They're not following through on their obligation."
When districts start a building project, they can apply for reimbursement from the state through a process called PlanCon, an acronym for Planning and Construction Workbook. After being approved for PlanCon A through PlanCon H steps, gradual reimbursement begins. The percent districts receive varies based on each project. A moratorium on new PlanCon projects that started in 2012 still exists, and districts starting new projects are not guaranteed reimbursement.
The 2013-14 budget includes $296.2 million for reimbursements. As of last month, about half of the appropriation had been distributed. Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed 2014-15 budget also calls for an appropriation of $296.2 million.
As of now, the state estimates that to pay for the 347 projects in Part A through Part G of PlanCon, $1.7 billion is needed. The estimate does not include any project that has received Part H approval and is starting to receive reimbursement.
The state has not told area districts when they can expect payment.
The $296.2 million is in addition to nearly $10 billion in state funding that is provided to schools through other line items in the state budget, Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller said.
"Perhaps, if pension reform is achieved, additional dollars could be redirected to construction reimbursements," he said in an email.
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association has called for a more sustainable process for construction reimbursements and supports a bill in the House that would simplify PlanCon.
Area legislators said addressing the backlog for reimbursements must be a priority.
Deteriorating Schools Require Funding for Construction, Upkeep
Letter - Kathryn LeRoy - Superintendent of Schools, TheLedger.com
April 13, 2014
-- Public school buildings in Florida are rapidly deteriorating because funding for maintenance and repairs has been declining for several years. The state has relied on the Public Education Capital Outlay trust fund, a program established through an amendment to the Florida Constitution and funded through the gross receipts tax on utilities and land-line telecommunications, to fund maintenance, repair and new construction for all public schools.
Because of rapid growth in the state and the need for new school buildings in the early 2000s, the state issued bonds to generate immediate funds. The downside to this is that the state is now forced to use almost all of the PECO funds collected to pay the debt-service cost of these bonds. As a result, PECO funding is virtually nonexistent.
School buildings are designed for a useful service life of 50 years. However, systems such as roofs, air conditioning, windows,and cafeteria equipment require regular replacement at 15- to 20-year intervals. When funding is not available to replace these systems, they become deferred-maintenance costs, simply meaning that you are putting off a problem because you lack the funds to fix the problem now.
The Polk County School District is facing critical needs from both the need for new construction as well as deferred maintenance. We have identified the need for $233 million for new construction and $389 million for deferred maintenance. Without these funds, our students will be housed more and more in portable classrooms, and our existing permanent classrooms will become increasingly substandard because of deteriorating building conditions.
D.C. school proposals trigger debate over future of neighborhood schools
Emma Brown, Washington Post
District of Columbia:
April 12, 2014
-- Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s proposals to overhaul the District’s school boundaries and the policies that decide how students are assigned to schools are bound in a book. It is hefty with maps and charts and — to the casual observer — inscrutable permutations of set-asides, choice sets and feeder patterns.
But buried within the details is a central question that has riveted parents: Is the District ready to give up on neighborhood schools in favor of expanded lottery admissions that could scatter the city’s children, seemingly at random?
City officials say the effort to retool how students are matched with schools aims to improve education by making sense of a complex system that leaves some schools nearly empty while others face serious overcrowding, some schools struggling while others thrive. But their proposals pit the rising philosophy of school choice, which aspires to untether the quality of a child’s education from his Zip code, against a long-standing American ideal: the school down the block that serves as the center of the neighborhood, the anchor for the community.
The suggestion of a dramatic overhaul has triggered a firestorm of protest, particularly in affluent upper Northwest Washington, where many families bought homes based on the promise of the right to attend good schools nearby. They fear that their emotional and economic investments in their neighborhood could be ripped out from under them, their property values could plummet, and the future of their children’s education could fall into limbo or be left to chance.
“I love that my kids can walk to school,” said Katherine Martin, PTA president at Janney Elementary in Northwest. Martin also is a real estate agent who predicts a run on Montgomery County homes — an exodus from the city — if families are forced to trade guaranteed access to schools for a lottery ticket. “You get to know all your neighbors and all the kids who surround your house. The community thrives on that.”
“You buy a house in a neighborhood for a school within walking distance,” said Nicole Fisher, another Janney parent. “You don’t buy a house to trek miles up the road.”
City officials will settle on a plan after considering community feedback in coming months. But both candidates vying to replace Gray (D) as mayor received the proposals with skepticism last week, setting up the possibility that the proposals could be significantly altered or scrapped after Gray’s term ends.
Democratic nominee Muriel Bowser, a D.C. Council member representing Ward 4, said she is interested in some of the ideas Gray floated, including replacing students’ right to attend one neighborhood elementary school with lottery admissions to one of three or four nearby schools. But she said she would neither support replacing neighborhood high schools with a citywide lottery nor cutting families off from good schools that their children currently can attend, saying that “parents want predictability.”
Independent David A. Catania, an at-large council member, vowed not to adopt any of the proposals if he is elected, and to focus instead on strengthening schools across the city. Catania said he does not support reassigning anyone to a lower-quality school or introducing changes that would “shock that fragile confidence” parents are building in city education.
Though the plans have stoked concern, for most families in this historically segregated city of disparate education options, neighborhood schools are already a thing of the past. Just 25 percent of D.C. children attend their assigned neighborhood schools. The rest forgo their local option in favor of charter schools, out-of-boundary traditional schools or selective magnet high schools.
DOE approves 6 schools for state-funded construction projects
Nell Gluckman, BDN Staff, The Bangor Daily News
April 11, 2014
-- AUGUSTA, Maine — Fred P. Hall School in Portland has deteriorating wood siding and windowsills, a roof that leaks periodically and it does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to Peter Eglinton, the Portland School Department’s chief operations officer. On top of that, the school had an electrical fire in 2012 that forced students out of the building for two weeks.
The condition of the school, which was built to be a temporary building in 1956, “takes both a physical and emotional toll,” Eglinton said.
On Wednesday, the school was put on a path to recovery. It was one of six schools that the Maine State Board of Education voted to add to a list of schools slated for state-funded construction projects.
The other five schools are Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham, Martel School in Lewiston, Monmouth Middle School, Teague Park School in Caribou and Morse High School in Bath. They bring the state’s list of approved projects to 12 dating back to 2012.
Officials from the districts whose schools made the list expressed appreciation for the planned state aid that would be coming their way.
“Replacing Hall has been our district’s top priority for building improvements,” Portland Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk said in a prepared statement distributed Wednesday.
“Combining state and local funding is the only way we can address our critical needs while reducing the burden on Portland taxpayers,” he said.
Lewiston School Department Superintendent Bill Webster said work on the Martel School will help his district address a rapidly growing student population.
“We’re bursting at the seams classwise,” he said. “We have classes as high as 28 and 29 but we have no additional rooms.”
But it will likely be years before any of the schools that made the list see improvements.
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