Lafayette’s new school superintendent says a tax proposal to upgrade school buildings could go to voters
LANIE LEE COOK, The Advocate
July 24, 2015
-- Lafayette Parish School System facilities are in dire need of expansions and enhancements, with new Superintendent Don Aguillard estimating a bond or tax proposal for those needs could go to voters as early as next spring.
With some schools out of space for temporary buildings, several in need of wing expansions and most in need of vital amenities like air-conditioned gyms, Aguillard on Monday said attention to those matters can’t wait any longer.
Should the Lafayette Parish School Board pull together a proposal this month, voters could decide on it in the March election, Aguillard told the Acadiana Press Club. Otherwise, the board would have until October to put a measure on the April ballot.
“We’re going to be moving quickly to try to put together some packages to present to the board,” Aguillard said.
The school district has about $94 million in bonding capacity, Aguillard said. Should it retire its existing debts over the next two years, the district would be able to accrue new debts “at no additional cost to Lafayette citizens,” he added.
6 Farmington schools could be closed in 2016
Nathan Mueller, Detroit Free Press
July 22, 2015
-- It seemed fitting that John Herrington, the longest tenured teacher and most recognizable coach in Farmington Public Schools, was the first speaker to pour his heart out and plead for the future of Harrison High School.
Herrington has been the only football coach in the school’s history, dating to 1970, and has been a teacher in the district for 52 years. But his historic career at Harrison could soon be coming to a close as the school is on the Building and Site Utilization Committee’s report for recommended closure and repurposing.
Herrington said: “My heart and soul is here,” and cannot “imagine closing a school of that caliber.”
“I know it’s already hurt the morale of our teachers at Harrison and it’s hurt the students I’m in contact with, the football players, because they ask us every day what is happening and I just say ‘I don’t know,’” he said.
A house near a high-performing D.C. school will cost you. Here’s how much.
Perry Stein, Washington Post
District of Columbia:
July 21, 2015
-- So how much does it cost to purchase a house within the boundaries of what is considered to be a high-performing school? A lot. The median price for a typical three-bedroom home, for instance, zoned for a D.C. Public School elementary school where 80 percent or more students are proficient or advanced in reading costs more than $800,000.
The always-interesting District, Measured — a blog from the city’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer — sifted through this data to determine how much it would cost to purchase a house in a neighborhood zoned for a top public elementary school. The main, and expected, takeaway: The best schools are not equally distributed throughout the city. The most expensive homes and best schools are in upper Northwest neighborhoods, and the cheapest homes are east of the river, along with a high concentration of low-performing schools.
Wasuma Elementary home to first dome-style school building in California
MACKENZIE MAYS, The Fresno Bee
July 20, 2015
-- The New Orleans Saints play in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the St. Louis Rams play in the Edward Jones Dome, and the Wasuma Elementary Wildcats will soon play ball under a dome, too.
Wasuma Elementary, located in Ahwahnee, plans to open a gymnasium for students this fall that developers say is the first dome-shaped public school building in California.
“I don’t want people to think they’re stepping into the Save Mart Center — it’s still an elementary school built for an audience of about 300 small children,” Bass Lake School District Superintendent Glenn Reid said. “But it does look pretty cool when you step inside.”
“Cool” wasn’t what Reid was going for, though. After the district passed a bond in 2006, there were several facility issues that took priority over providing Wasuma Elementary with a gym. Up until now, the cafeteria has doubled as its gym and events venue — forcing staff to host separate assemblies because the student body couldn’t fit into one room. The funding had dwindled, but Wasuma needed the space, so Bass Lake officials “got creative.”
The dome-shaped building cost the district around $2 million — about half of what it would’ve cost to build a traditional gym, Reid said.
The building was constructed using the techniques of the Monolithic Dome Institute in Texas, which boasts significant energy savings and less construction and maintenance costs than traditional buildings.
21 abandoned Gary schools add to urban decay
Marc Chase, nwitimes.com
July 19, 2015
-- GARY | The wreckage of 21 brick behemoths pockmark struggling Gary neighborhoods, providing sanctuary for crime and urban decay.
At one time, these former public schools were the nucleus of thriving sections of the city, nearby residents and former students recalled.
But that's a bygone era. Now, vast swaths of school property are overrun with weeds, and the shuttered buildings, some in visible decline, display the territorial tags of gang graffiti.
A Times investigation of every shuttered Gary school revealed at least two that are openly accessible to gang activity and other crime. A host of others sit moldering with broken windows, overgrown lots and in some cases crumbling exteriors.
Lincoln-Way school officials will closely examine school closure scenarios
FELIX SARVER, The Herald-News
July 18, 2015
-- NEW LENOX — Lincoln-Way school officials plan to tweak school closure scenarios for each of the four high schools in the coming weeks as they consider closing one of the buildings in an attempt to fix the district’s financial crisis.
Board members are focused on closing a school after Thursday’s meeting. The board recommended district administrators drum up more closure scenarios and look into bringing in an outside consultant.
State education officials are requiring Lincoln-Way come up with plan by September that will reduce the deficit spending that has landed the district on the state financial watch list.
Lincoln-Way Superintendent Scott Tingley already has given board members scenarios for the closing of each school, which focus on keeping feeder schools together if a high school closes or drawing new boundaries.
“I think the biggest discussion now is, do we look at keeping our junior highs? Or does the board look at implementing boundary lines and break the junior highs up?” Tingley said.
Construction season in full swing at Columbia Public Schools
Roger McKinney, Columbia Daily Tribune
July 18, 2015
Charles Oestreich is a busy man.
The facilities and construction services director for Columbia Public Schools on Wednesday opened a file cabinet to display dozens of construction contracts in various stages of completion. They varied in size and scope, including the finishing touches on Battle Elementary School, continuing work on Beulah Ralph Elementary School, preliminary work on an early childhood center, and flooring replacement in several schools.
The school district’s 2015-16 capital projects budget is $80 million, though not all of those projects will be completed during the year.
Oestreich said summer is the busiest construction period for the district, and a lot of the work has to be complete by the time students return on Aug. 18.
Classroom expansions at Shepard Boulevard and West Boulevard elementary schools — two of the biggest projects outside of new buildings — are set to be completed in November. Oestreich said the Shepard Boulevard project involves a 27,687-square-foot addition with a total project cost of $5,067,100. West Boulevard Elementary will expand by 20,740 square feet at a total project cost of $4,560,800. Both projects are financed by a voter-approved 2012 bond issue.
Inglewood schools move to use $90M languishing in bond fund
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, 89.3 KPCC
July 17, 2015
-- The Inglewood Unified School District took a step Thursday toward cleaning up, renovating, and improving its dilapidated school facilities.
School officials installed an 11-member citizen committee that will oversee the district as it taps into a $90 million bond fund for school improvements. Voters approved the bonds in November 2012.
The money has gone unspent despite unsafe and unsanitary school conditions detailed last year in a KPCC investigation.
“Tonight is a milestone,” Don Brann, the state appointed trustee who runs the school district, said at a Thursday evening meeting attended by Tom Torlakson, the California superintendent of public instruction.
The state took over Inglewood Unified in September 2012 after the school board asked for a $55 million bailout loan. Torlakson appointed Brann as the district's third trustee in 2013.
Under the takeover, the district's elected school board members act as advisors to the state trustee.
Superintendent Avossa: County school infrastructure “almost a crisis”
Andrew Marra, PalmBeachPost.com
July 17, 2015
-- Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa has plenty to worry about as he finishes up his first month on the job.
But the thing that he says keeps him up at night? The county school system’s decaying infrastructure.
“I would argue that it’s almost a crisis,” he told The Post’s Editorial Board Thursday.
It’s no secret that the county’s public schools are suffering from breakdowns, decay and poor maintenance.
The problem, school administrators say, is a perennial shortfall in the school district’s budget for construction and maintenance.
The shortfall has been prompted in part by large debt payments for past construction projects and a change in state law that reduced the amount of property taxes that the school system can collect to fund construction and maintenance.
Buildings Committee upheaval: New members appointed, 'unauthorized' board dissolved
SANDY SEOANE, The Valley Breeze
July 16, 2015
-- NORTH SMITHFIELD - After heated debate and a 4-3 vote, the North Smithfield School Committee effectively dismissed 13 members of a board who previously provided advice about changes to school facilities - such as the project to spend the $4.3 million in bond money and decommission Halliwell - and replaced them with 11 new members.
The group, referred to as the School Buildings Committee, is required by the Rhode Island Department of Education for advisory on school construction projects. According to RIDE regulations, a group should be formed for advice on the project according to the local charter and bylaws.
But that never happened, at least according to School Committeewoman Merredythe Nadeau and other members of the school board.
"There's no vote where the School Committee authorized this group to function in any capacity whatsoever," Nadeau said at a meeting on the issue this week.
Instead, some committee members say a long-standing group - the Use of Facilities and Capital Advisory Committee - was simply redirected to the project and has been acting without proper authority.
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