Tab for fixing Phila. School District facilities: $5 billion
Kristen A. Graham,, Philly.com
February 11, 2016
-- Fixing every Philadelphia School District building - more than 300 schools, athletic fields, offices, shops, and garages - could cost $5 billion, district officials said Thursday.
But amid a perpetual budget crisis, the school system manages to allocate just $160 million yearly on maintaining its buildings, leaving thousands of work orders unfilled and putting students' health at risk daily, some suggested.
"We find ourselves in a very difficult position of having to play catch-up. We focus on things" that are emergencies, said Danielle Floyd, the district's director of capital programs.
Her comments came Thursday evening at a hearing convened by Democratic State Sens. Vincent Hughes and Art Haywood.
Repair Bill for Decaying Detroit Schools Could Top $50 Million
Corey Mitchell, Education Week
February 8, 2016
-- The outgoing emergency manager of the Detroit public schools estimates it would cost more than $50 million to address the immediate maintenance issues in the district's aging buildings.
In the meantime, the district has begun using money budgeted for other departments to fix the most urgent building problems. The district announced Monday that $300,000 will be redirected to handle existing work orders, property maintenance, and safety violations uncovered by the city during recent inspections.
"The district remains committed to making the necessary repairs to its buildings in order to provide our students and staff with a clean, safe environment in which to learn and work," Darnell Earley, the district's emergency manager, said in a statement.
Earley's statement did not indicate what departments the funds were diverted from. The district has faced withering criticism in recent weeks because of the poor condition of many of its schools.
Under orders from Mayor Mike Duggan, city workers have inspected about half of Detroit's nearly 100 schools, uncovering issues with mold, rodents, and broken glass.
Vote on smaller June school construction bond possible within a week
JIM MILLER, Sacramento Bee
February 8, 2016
-- The Brown administration and the Legislature’s Democratic leaders are moving to craft a school construction bond package for the June ballot significantly smaller than one already scheduled to come before voters in November.
The move would require a rapid series of committee and floor votes to meet ballot deadlines over the next week, and success is far from certain. There is no final agreement on how big an alternative June bond should be or on potentially significant policy changes in how school construction money is allocated.
Any bond needs a two-thirds vote, requiring the support of Democrats and at least a handful of Republicans. Any legislation to place an alternative bond before voters in June, moreover, would need to reach Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk by next Tuesday to avoid a costly supplemental ballot. That’s the same day lawmakers return from the long Presidents Day weekend.
“Time is running short,” Senate President Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, said in an interview Monday. “That’s why it’s important for all the stakeholders to find common ground so we can put the best school bond out there that meets its objective and at the same time takes into account the political environment, either in June or in November.”
Rains wreak havoc on Los Angeles school roofs
Mike Kennedy, American School & University
February 8, 2016
-- Rainstorms last week in Southern California have put a big strain on maintenance workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The Los Angeles Times reports that after rains from El Niño descended on the area, workers in the nation's second-largest district were inundated with rain-related service requests.
As of Friday, the district had a backlog of 1,167 unresolved rain-related issues.
Most of the reported problems are attributed to leaks from aging roofs in a number of the school system's 13,000 buildings. Maintenance officials say workers can address only 40 to 50 service requests, leading to a significant backlog.
Florida House moves to curb school construction costs, support charter school capital projects
Jeffrey S. Solochek, Tampa Bay Times
February 8, 2016
-- Rep. Erik Fresen's pledge to "address the overspending of school districts on school facilities" takes a step forward Tuesday, when the House Appropriations Committee takes up a sweeping measure that would force districts into construction spending limits while also sharing local capital projects tax revenue with charter schools.
The proposed committee substitute for HB 873, which surfaced over the weekend, would prohibit districts from spending more per student station than outlined in statute, restricting their access to state PECO funding if they exceed the amounts. It further would give charter schools that meet set criteria, such as being in operation more than two years, a percentage of the local property tax that currently goes to districts only.
Helena school board meets Tuesday; trustees to focus on educational vision before facilities
MARGA LINCOLN, Independent Record
February 7, 2016
-- At Tuesday night’s Helena School Board meeting, the trustees plan to share insights they gained at their recent board retreat with facilitator Virginia Tribe exploring board governance.
The board meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9, at Ray Bjork Learning Center, 1600 8th St.
What they learned in the retreat is causing them to take a step back from facilities planning to first focus on the district’s educational vision, said board chair Aidan Myhre. “We need more clarity.”
The board intends to use two upcoming board retreats in March and April to outline the educational pieces in more detail before it takes the next steps in school facilities planning. School facilities should match the district’s educational vision, said Myhre. For instance, the district can’t promote more rigorous science standards if it doesn’t have science labs or classroom sinks needed for the classes.
“I think people want a stronger science program,” she said. “What do we need to make that happen?” She also noted that art and music programming have facility needs, as well.
Construction cost to be significant for possible WCPS middle schools expansion
AARON MUDD, Bowling Green Daily News
February 6, 2016
-- The defeat of a bill to exempt school construction projects from prevailing wage means Warren County Public Schools won’t get relief from unexpected construction costs to expand middle schools.
District Superintendent Rob Clayton said expanding middle schools to accommodate sixth-graders would cost the district a projected $27 million. The original price point of the project was between $16 million and $17 million in 2014, he said.
The Kentucky Labor Cabinet defines prevailing wage as “the hourly base wage and fringe rate paid to workers, laborers and mechanics of each classification when working on public works projects that are estimated to cost more than $250,000.”
Before it was defeated in a Kentucky House committee, Senate Bill 9 would have exempted “elementary, secondary or postsecondary education buildings and facilities” from the definition of public works. Essentially, that would mean freeing school districts and postsecondary institutions from prevailing wage requirements.
Clayton said the cost of complying raises costs for a construction project by 20 percent to 30 percent. He supports exempting educational construction projects from the law.
LW Parent Group Insists School Closing Decision be in Court's Hand
LAUREN TRAUT, Frankfort Patch
February 6, 2016
-- It’s not up the Lincoln-Way District 210 Board of Education whether one of the district’s schools should close, an attorney representing infuriated parents argued in court Thursday.
Lincoln-Way Area Taxpayers Unite previously filed a lawsuit asking the court to intervene to stop the closing of Lincoln-Way North High School. The district fired back with a request for dismissal, but the parent group isn’t backing down.
On Thursday, the group’s lawyer spat back that the school board does not have “unfettered discretion,” and therefore the final decision rests in the hands of the court.
The group maintains its position that the board’s August 2015 decision to close the eight-year school was “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.”
Ocean City School Refinancing Plan to Save $1 million
Donald Wittkowski, OCNJdaily.com
February 6, 2016
-- Ocean City’s school district is undertaking a debt refinancing plan that will allow it to capitalize on lower interest rates and save more than $1 million for taxpayers.
Essentially, the district is following the same strategy as myriad homeowners who have refinanced their mortgages in recent years to take advantage of historically low interest rates.
“That’s exactly it,” said Tim Kelley, the district’s business administrator. “We are simply refinancing our existing debt. We are not taking on additional debt.”
Under the plan, the district will replace about $11.7 million in existing bonds that have an interest rate of between 4 percent and 5 percent with new debt ranging from 2 percent to 3 percent.
Kelley estimates a total savings of $1.05 million in interest costs over the life of the new bonds through 2022.
The refinancing will also decrease the tax rate on the school district’s debt service by two-tenths of a cent, resulting in a savings of about $10 per year for the typical homeowner whose property is assessed at $500,000, Kelley said.
On Jan. 20, the Board of Education introduced an ordinance to authorize the bond refunding. The board is scheduled to hold a public hearing and take a final vote on the plan at its Feb. 24 meeting.
Assuming the ordinance is approved, the new bonds are expected to be sold to investors in late March, Kelley said.
Construction Ongoing After Crescent Public Schools Damaged By Earthquakes
JOLEEN CHANEY, News9.com
February 5, 2016
-- CRESCENT, Oklahoma - Areas of Crescent Public Schools are in shambles after earthquakes in July shook some of the buildings so hard the walls are bowed. Construction has been going on for months, but they're making progress.
"We've had to seal the building off and evacuate,” said Crescent Public Schools Superintendent Mickey Hart.
The earthquake that caused the damage happened back in the summer, but for months repair work has been ongoing - the hammering and clamoring are another nail closer to fixing the $4,000 in damages.
"The deductible is per building, and this was the only building that had enough damage to go ahead and pursue that deductible,” said Hart.
It's a $50,000 deductible per building, and the gym is the only building with enough damage to submit a claim. The school district will absorb the couple of thousand dollars for the other buildings.
The Oklahoma Risk Management Trust deals with about 40 percent of the state's public schools that are insured. With recent budget cuts many just can't afford to add the extra optional cost right now, but for schools that do, there are exclusions and limitations.
“Anything other than natural earth movement then there may not be coverage even if they've purchased earthquake coverage on their policy,” said Kelly Mclemore of the Oklahoma Risk Management Trust.
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