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Greenbelt city council votes no on cell towers on school property
-- Kate Ryan, WTOP

Maryland: November 25, 2014 -- Can't get a decent cell phone signal in parts of Greenbelt? It could be due to the scarcity of cell phone towers in the municipality but council member Rodney Roberts doesn't mind. "Our civilization lived a long, long time, and survived quite well without cell phones." When it comes to having cell phone reception, Roberts said, "It's not a requirement of life." On Monday, the members of the Greenbelt City Council voted to make their feelings on putting cell towers on school properties clear: They are opposed. And they're not alone. Groups from Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Prince George's counties have formed to prevent the construction of cell towers near schools. The council voted to draft letters to the Prince George's County board of education and Superintendent Dr. Kevin Maxwell asking for greater transparency on the site selection for cell towers in the city of Greenbelt. As the members hashed about the language of their proposal, council member Edward Putens said, "I want to know if there's any plans or any leases or anything that has to do with a Greenbelt school." A contract to construct cell towers on as many as 70 public school properties was approved in 2011, when the Prince George's County schools partnered with Milestone Communications, but Greenbelt council members say there was little to no transparency or opportunity for public input.

Mahoning Valley lawmakers push for state funding reform for school buildings
-- TIFFANY L. PARKS, Daily Legal News

Ohio: November 25, 2014 -- A new piece of proposed legislation designed to cut local taxes and reduce the costs of funding school construction has been filed into both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly. Senate Bill 376, led by Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, and House Bill 650, sponsored by Rep. Ron Gerberry, D-Austintown, would require the state to pay set percentages of school construction costs while decreasing the cost of local school improvement levies by 12.5 percent for local property taxpayers. In a statement, the lawmakers said the proposed changes would increase the fairness of school construction funding. The proposal would cap local matching funds at 75 percent of total school improvement costs through the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program and establish a 50-50 cost share between the state and local districts for construction under the Exceptional Needs Program, a funding model that prioritizes single building replacement based on student health and safety. The current funding system is based on an assessed property valuation per student. “The state needs to make a greater investment into public education now and into the future,” Schiavoni said. “This legislation will take some of the burden off local taxpayers while ensuring that our young people have more opportunities to succeed.” If enacted, the measure would reduce the increased cost of local levies for some schools by reinstating the 12.5 percent state cost sharing for local school improvement levies that was eliminated in the last state budget.

Hundreds of Brooklyn Heights parents seek solutions for P.S. 8 overcrowding
-- Staff Writer, Brooklyn Daily Eagle

New York: November 25, 2014 -- Hundreds of parents who attended Thursday night’s meeting about overcrowding at P.S. 8, Brooklyn Heights’ only elementary school, were presented with stark numbers and scant options. Detailed figures presented by PTA co-presidents Kim Glickman and Ansley Samson show a rapidly building student population that threatens to overwhelm the school. So many families are pouring into the area that some kindergarteners in P.S. 8’s zone may have to seek placement elsewhere next September – an idea that shocked many in the audience, who said they moved into the zone just so their kids could go to school there. Traditionally, families who live in a school zone are guaranteed a space there. Last year P.S. 8 was operating at 142 percent capacity, even after eliminating pre-K, Glickman said. “That puts us in the top 10 percent or higher of New York City public schools.” The problem is only going to get worse, Samson said. Roughly 3,750 new housing units in the school’s zone are already in the pipeline, with completion expected by 2017. Incoming students significantly outnumber outgoing students. “Another 1,750 units have yet to be incorporated into our numbers,” she said. Using a ratio developed by the School Construction Authority (SCA), this works out to 1,088 additional elementary school children just from approved new housing by 2017 – and this doesn’t take into account the rising birth rate in the zone. It also excludes the proposed Pier 6 towers and the Brooklyn Heights Library tower. “The PTA is not taking a position on new housing. All we are saying is if you are going to include additional residential housing in the P.S. 8 zone, you need to account for elementary school needs of that housing before you approve it,” Samson said, garnering applause.

Federally run Indian schools can't escape tainted legacy; schools among nation's lowest
-- KIMBERLY HEFLING Associated Press, Daily Reporter

National: November 24, 2014 -- WINSLOW, Arizona — On a desert outpost miles from the closest paved road, Navajo students at the Little Singer Community School gleefully taste traditional fry bread during the school's heritage week. "It reminds us of the Native American people a long time ago," says a smiling 9-year-old, Arissa Chee. The cheer comes in the midst of dire surroundings: Little Singer, like so many of the 183 Indian schools overseen by the federal government, is verging on decrepit. The school, which serves 81 students, consists of a cluster of rundown classroom buildings containing asbestos, radon, mice, mold and flimsy outside door locks. The newest building, a large, white monolithic dome that is nearly 20 years old, houses the gym. On a recent day, students carried chairs above their heads while they changed classes, so they would have a place to sit. These are schools, says Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, whose department is responsible for them, "that you or I would not feel good sending our kids to, and I don't feel good sending Indian kids there, either." Federally owned schools for Native Americans on reservations are marked by remoteness, extreme poverty and few construction dollars.

Problems with an old school - a Student's Perspective
-- Jeremiah Munson , Fillmore County Journal

Minnesota: November 24, 2014 -- The Rushford-Peterson School District just passed their new school referendum this past election. Many members of the community had heard different reasons for why the referendum should be passed but perhaps could not fully grasp the need. Some of the people who can appreciate this decision the most, however, are the students. Teachers can also recognize it being in the school as much as they are, but students, who navigate more throughout the school, know the full range of problems in the building. A current student in the high school would start out their day on the old, creaky, wooden floors and squeeze their school materials into their cramped locker. The student would then go to their classes, which are either extremely hot in the summer or equally cold in the winter, due to poor air conditioning and heating. If you have a class on a different floor than your locker, then you have to maneuver your way up or down the stair cases. One of the stairways is not quite wide enough to fit two people going in opposite directions. If one is handicapped and cannot use the stairs, be careful as at least one of the elevators has been known to get stuck on occasion. When it is time for lunch they would head to the cafeteria which also doubles as the elementary gymnasium. When lunch is done the student would then go back to classes and have to deal with drafty windows and excessive heat/cold. Between their classes, they would have to navigate the narrow hallways to get to and from class on time. If the student is in band, choir, or the play, during a performance they would have to ignore the loud refrigerator that would turn on with a squeal, run noisily for a while, and then turn back off. The refrigerators are on the stage because there is not enough room for them in the small kitchen.

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