Central School parents demand a solution -- soon
MARGA LINCOLN, Independent Record
May 27, 2016
-- Central School parents and staff were back in front of the Helena Public Schools Board of Trustees Tuesday night asking for a solution -- soon.
It’s been three years since Central School faced an emergency evacuation order after an engineering report warned of serious structural damage in case of an earthquake.
At that time, Central students were “temporarily relocated” from their downtown campus to Lincoln School, 1325 Poplar St.
One option put on the table Tuesday -- moving Central students to Ray Bjork School -- was met by stiff opposition from the Early Childhood Special Ed Preschool program at Ray Bjork, which is also shared with Head Start.
Both Central and Ray Bjork schools deal with the school district’s most vulnerable, at-risk students.
Trustee Sarah Sullivan agreed to head up a task force of board trustees, parents and community members to immediately explore Central School options to bring back to the board.
In opening the Central School discussion, board chairman Aidan Myhre said it’s time for the school district to reinvigorate its facilities discussion, which it put on hold after the school bond failed in June 2015.
Parent council spokesperson Jennifer McKee said that Central parents “are asking the board for a new analysis of student placement.”
P.S. 14 parents, community continue to protest plans to double size of school
Patrick Rocchio, Bronx Times
May 27, 2016
-- P.S. 14’s expansion plan has come under fire.
A coalition of community members and parents believe the enlargement of the Hollywood Avenue school is too big and are calling on the School Construction Authority to halt the project until they have their questions answered.
The project has probably already been put out to bid, according to sources.
The opposition voiced their displeasure at a Community Board 10 meeting at the school on Thursday, May 19, and a CB 10 Youth and Education Committee meeting on Monday, May 23.
Traffic conditions at pick up and drop off time, proximity of the annex to a nearby house, the loss of parkland, were some of the concerns addressed.
“Let’s stop and rethink this and get a consensus so that people feel that they are part of the process,” said WLCA board member Mary Jane Musano, who favors a smaller addition.
Judge rules against school closures
Mike Lamb, Desert Dispatch
May 26, 2016
-- SAN BERNARDINO — A Superior Court judge has ordered the Barstow Unified School District to vacate the project to close both Thomson Elementary School and Hinkley Elementary School.
The ruling was delivered May 17 by Judge Gilbert Ochoa. It follows his February ruling that the district rescind its 2012 resolution to close Hinkley and Thomson elementary schools. The order came after California's Fourth District Court of Appeals reversed his earlier ruling in the Save Our Schools vs. Barstow Unified School District case.
Thomson is now the site of the district's STEM Academy, while Hinkley remains closed.
"The approvals of the school closures and student transfers as well as the CEQA determinations must be set aside and vacated within 90 days," attorney Abigail Smith said Thursday. She works for Johnson & Sedlack, which is representing the petitioner, Save Our Schools.
"The District must prepare a new CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) determination if it intends to re-approve the project. There should be a new public hearing, although the District could technically proceed withhold holding one," Smith said.
Superintendent Jeff Malan said Barstow Unified will comply with the terms of the writ as directed by the court.
"Yesterday, the District received a signed copy of the writ of mandate issued by the San Bernardino County Superior Court in the Save Our Schools v. Barstow Unified School District case," Malan said Thursday.
Small Town School Closing its Doors After 144 Years
BEN OLDACH, WHOtv.com
May 26, 2016
-- WALNUT, Iowa -- While metro schools make decisions to meet growing student populations, some schools in Iowa are facing a much harder decision.
Just last week, the Waukee School District approved a land purchase for a second high school. But it’s the exact opposite for the town of Walnut, closing its schools’ doors after 144 years.
The Iowa census estimates 776 people live in Walnut, 121 fewer people than what it says on the sign that greets you. It’s a statistic reflected in the lone school.
“Too many times schools are academically bankrupt before they are financially bankrupt, and that's certainly the position Walnut was in,” said Superintendent Jesse Ulrich.
The Walnut Community School District has seen a dramatic drop in enrollment over the past five years, with 171 students in 2010 and just 72 students in 2015.
That’s why the school that has taught students since 1872 is closing its doors to merge with the neighboring AHST Community School District.
“It's never going be the same. I just hope the town itself can survive without the school,” said Walnut resident Donna Harris-Heiny.
The school's been the focal point for many years.
Study says schools in Yonkers, N.Y., are 20 percent over capacity
Mike Kennedy, American School & University
May 25, 2016
-- Student enrollment in the Yonkers (N.Y.) district is 20 percent over the capacity of the city's aging public school facilities, a study of district schools has concluded.
The building capacity study finds that the district's December 2015 enrollment of 26,736 was 4,428 more than the functional capacity of the district's 39 schools—22,308.
The findings from the building capacity study are the latest step in an effort by the Yonkers school district and its supporters to persuade the New York State Legislature to support a $2 billion, 13-year plan to rebuild all 39 public schools in the city of Yonkers. The average age of the schools is 75 years old, and many of the campuses have deteriorating conditions.
“So many Yonkers schools are over 100 years old,” Superintendent Edwin M. Quezada says. “They are crumbling around our students and staff. Patchwork repairs are no longer acceptable.”
Hogan wants details of Baltimore County school air conditioning plan
Michael Dresser, Baltimore Sun
May 25, 2016
-- Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday welcomed Baltimore County's decision to accelerate plans to install air conditioning in all of its public schools, but refused to back off the Board of Public Works' decision to withhold school construction money until he sees a written plan.
The Republican governor and Democratic Comptroller Peter Franchot took full credit for the county's decision to finish installing central air at all elementary and middle schools by 2017 and high schools by 2018 rather than waiting until 2021 to complete the job.
"It's an encouraging sign that they finally seem to be getting the message," Hogan said.
At its last meeting two weeks ago, the board voted 2-1 to withhold $10 million in state school construction aid from the county and $5 million from Baltimore city unless both install portable window air conditioning units by the start of school this year. Hogan and Franchot approved the action over the objections of Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, a Democrat elected by the General Assembly.
Hogan said he is pleased that after what he called years of "excuses and procrastination," Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced the new timeline plan last week. But the governor said he needs to see more than a press release before the state releases the school construction funds.
Building Codes Require New Schools To Include Tornado Shelters, But Many Won’t Have Them
Jason Allen, CBS DFW
May 25, 2016
-- Building codes published last year require new schools in North Texas to include tornado shelters, but many new campuses under construction now won’t have them. Districts are citing higher construction cost, and they’re waiting for cities to adopt the new codes first.
In West, the new secondary campus under construction is one of the few in North Texas adding a shelter that will meet the new codes. During the school day it will be an auxiliary gym. But its 14-inch thick concrete walls, and roof construction similar to a parking garage, is designed to stand up to the 250 mph winds of an EF5 tornado.
“You have to design for about 4 times the wind pressure, and about 5 times the roof live load,” said Ben Harris, the director of engineering at Fort Worth firm Huckabee. “That’s to account for all the debris that can pile up on top of the roof.”
Cardiff School District gathering community feedback to address aging facilities and safety needs
Staff Writer, Seaside Courier
May 25, 2016
-- The Cardiff School District is considering a school improvement bond measure for major capital improvements to its facilities ahead of the upcoming November 2016 ballot, according to the district.
The district’s primary needs are to improve safety and make major repairs and facility improvements to the aging 55- to 65-year-old buildings on the Cardiff School campus, the district reported.
Cardiff School was founded in 1913 with 23 students. It was rebuilt in 1950, modernized in 2002, and currently serves 369 kindergarten through third grade students. Ada W. Harris Elementary School, which presently serves 350 third through sixth grade students, was originally constructed in 1960 and was completely rebuilt in 2002 using a school improvement bond measure.
Emergency loan pool proposed for school construction needs
Kimberly Beltran, Cabinet Report
May 25, 2016
-- School construction officials are set this afternoon to consider a new loan program for districts in dire need of building capital once provided through state bond funds which are no longer available.
The plan before the State Allocation Board calls for the loan proceeds to be repaid with monies from a new school construction bond headed for the November ballot. If the measure fails, districts could increase the school impact fees they are allowed to collect from housing developers whose projects bring in more students.
Regulations currently governing a program for districts that meet ‘extreme financial hardship’ would be expanded, creating a new loan program to cover the state and/or district share of new construction projects, according to a staff report prepared for the SAB, which approves expenditures for K-12 building projects under the state’s School Facility Program.
Funding for the loans would require a new budget allocation or could come through the state’s Pooled Money Investment Account.
The PMIA, according to the State Treasurer’s website, is a pot of taxpayer dollars invested “to manage the State’s cash flow and strengthen the financial security of local governmental entities.” At the end of April, the site reports, the PMIA portfolio totaled approximately $67.6 billion.
Chicago school board approves expanded private maintenance program
Juan Perez Jr., Chicago Tribune
May 25, 2016
-- The head of the labor union representing Chicago Public Schools' building engineers called plans to privatize his group's work a "money pit scheme" as the district's board approved an expansion of a privately managed maintenance program.
The unanimous vote by the Chicago Board of Education doubles the size of an upkeep program managed under contract of up to $80 million won by SodexoMAGIC, a company partly controlled by former NBA superstar and Mayor Rahm Emanuel supporter Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
The district, citing its bleak financial condition, privatized many building maintenance duties in 2014 but quickly started receiving complaints about dirty schools.
"These are the same companies with complaints against them for dirty, filthy schools," William Iacullo, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 143, told the school board Wednesday. "But you guys are going to reward them with an expansion."
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