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Johnson City BOE protests county’s school plans
-- COLLIN BROOKS, Herald & Tribune

Tennessee: September 21, 2016 -- Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge made a rare appearance in front of the Johnson City Board of Education on Monday, September 5 to address what he thought was going to be a series of updates on the capital projects that the county school system is planning. Instead, it turned into— at times — a heated discussion between some school board members and the Washington County mayor about the $0.40 cent property tax increase recently imposed by the county, $0.32 of which will be placed in a capital funds project for county use. Johnson City Superintendent Dr. Richard Bales summoned Eldridge, along with Washington County Finance Director Mitch Meredith, Johnson City Mayor Clayton Stout and Johnson City City Manager Pete Peterson to discuss the tax increase with the school board, however it was Eldridge that bore the brunt of the questioning during the almost one hour exchange. “There is a concern about the implications of the approach that the county is planning to take with that $0.32 cents from the recent tax increase that they are going to be putting into their capital projects account,” explained Johnson City Board of Education Chairman Dr. Tim Belisle to the Herald and Tribune a couple of weeks after the exchange.

Franchot, NAACP seek DOJ action on school air conditioning
-- Pamela Wood and Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun

Maryland: September 21, 2016 -- Comptroller Peter Franchot and the NAACP are asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the lack of air conditioning in public schools in Baltimore city and Baltimore County. In a letter sent Monday, Franchot and Gerald Stansbury, president of the state NAACP, said many of the students in schools without air conditioning come from low-income families. Studying in hot schools amounts to "a blatant neglect of their civil rights," Franchot and Stansbury wrote. "These students deserve to have the same educational experience as Maryland students who are privileged to live in more affluent communities," the men wrote. "It's time that these issues are addressed, and we respectfully hope you concur." The Department of Justice would not comment on the request Wednesday. Baltimore City schools officials defended their efforts to install air conditioning amid other pressing facilities issues, such as broken boilers and furnaces, leaky roofs and poor plumbing. "We manage our limited facilities and capital budgets to address prioritized student safety concerns," the school system said in a statement. "Despite these challenges, we are providing air conditioning in all new and renovated buildings under the 21st Century School Buildings Plan and are installing air conditioning on an accelerated timeline in other buildings across the city."

Yancey board votes to close three schools
-- Julie Ball, Citizen-Times

North Carolina: September 20, 2016 -- BURNSVILLE - Yancey County school board members voted Monday to close and consolidate three community schools that had served generations of Yancey families. Bee Log, Bald Creek and Clearmont elementary schools will be consolidated into a single, new school to serve the west end of the county. “There’s nobody on this board that wanted to close those community schools. Our children went to those schools. My wife went to one of those schools. It’s very much a part of Yancey County," said Yancey County School Board Chairman Mike Orr. But Orr said the school district has no choice with declining enrollment and aging buildings and infrastructure. The school board voted in favor of consolidation at a sparsely attended meeting Monday night at Mountain Heritage High School. No one spoke during a public hearing on the matter.

Overcrowding still issue in Laramie County School District 1
-- Kristine Galloway, Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Wyoming: September 20, 2016 -- The addition of Cheyenne’s Meadowlark Elementary on the east side of Cheyenne improved the overcrowding in the elementary schools, but some students still are not attending their neighborhood schools. Part of the reason is the enrollment in Laramie County School District 1 continues to increase each year. Tracey Kinney, LCSD1’s assistant superintendent of instruction, presented annual enrollment information to the LCSD1 Board of Trustees at its Monday meeting. She said, “The conservative count today is 13,849 students across the district. Last year’s enrollment this time was 13,833.” Kinney said that increase is smaller than the increase the district has seen in the past five years, but she said the enrollment sometimes increases over the school year as well. She also said the number of students enrolled in the elementary schools increased by more than 1,000 students in the past five years. Kinney presented a slide that shows the enrollment growth in the district’s elementary schools over those past five years. It shows a population of 7,723 for the 2016-17 school year, up from 7,481 in the previous year. That enrollment growth is now affecting the junior high and high schools as the students grow older, Kinney said.

Parents launch effort to get new Towson High School built
-- Rachael Pacella, The Baltimore Sun

Maryland: September 19, 2016 -- Next year, Steve Prumo's daughter, Rosa, 13, will enter her freshman year at Towson High School; three years later his daughter, Sofia, 10, will follow, then Rafael, 7, and finally, Olivia, 4. Prumo said that's why he's a member of the steering committee for a new Towson High School, which is asking the Baltimore County Public Schools system to replace the existing facility with a new one that would be ready to open in 2022. This month, the effort gained steam and its members became more vocal with the committee's launching of a Facebook page called "Families for a New Towson High School." The committee also will hold an organizational meeting on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Towson branch of the Baltimore County Public Library. The existing school, which was built in 1949, is aging and deteriorating, said Prumo, a 1986 graduate of Towson High. "I walked around the school recently," he added. "If any parent were to see what that structure looks like from the inside out, [they] would be concerned, too."

Frankfort Independent Schools get help funding facilities projects
-- Rosalind Essig, The State Journal

Kentucky: September 19, 2016 -- Frankfort Independent Schools has received a $3 million bond for health and safety renovations at Second Street School and Frankfort High School. The school board voted Monday to accept the funding. The Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) from the Kentucky Department of Education allows schools to borrow — with low or no interest — to complete renovations on existing school facilities. Second Street School and Frankfort High are the top two priorities on the district’s facilities plan, with estimated needs of over $3 million apiece. “I’m just excited. It’s a great opportunity,” Superintendent Houston Barber told the board members Monday. “We’re one of the few schools that got this opportunity.” The school district requested the maximum $3 million, according to the QZAB application provided at the Aug. 22 board meeting, and was notified by the Department of Education that it received the full amount requested.

Gainesville school board again delays decision on naming facilities
-- Ron Bridgeman, Gainesville Times

Georgia: September 19, 2016 -- Naming school facilities for Gainesville City Schools continues to be a source of dispute — six months after the issue was raised. The Gainesville Board of Education tabled a proposed policy for naming facilities Monday night after objections from board member Sammy Smith. The board approved a series of policies in the spring, but it delayed action on the naming of facilities and the evaluation of the superintendent. A policy for the evaluation was unanimously adopted Monday. It calls for the superintendent’s evaluation to be completed by the end of the school year. It also says the board members will provide “informal feedback” at the middle of the year. The immediate need for a way to name facilities is the construction of a new elementary school in the Mundy Mill subdivision. The proposed policy Monday called for naming facilities after “geographic locations, streets and/or other landmarks.” Option 2 on the policy broadened that to “geography, neighborhoods, streets, landmarks, historic events, exceptional personal honor, grade designation or other established purpose.”

New option in school building plan would give Akron six high schools
-- Colette M. Jenkins , Ohio.com

Ohio: September 19, 2016 -- The Akron Board of Education is on the clock, again, to secure state money to build the city’s final high school. “Since our last joint school board/City Council meeting in June, we have $4 million less that the state will fund because of projected enrollment losses … the board needs to decide in early October, which is now, where to build the final project with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission,” Superintendent David James told board and council members on Monday during a presentation at the Austen BioInnovation Institute. James shared a new sixth option (along with the same five presented in June) for moving forward. The sixth option would leave the city with six of its existing seven high schools — Buchtel, East, Ellet, Firestone and North would remain intact, provided they have no enrollment changes, and a new community learning center that consolidates Garfield and Kenmore would be built at the Garfield site.

The man who helped bring historic school house to fairgrounds
-- Bobbie Hanstein, Daily Bulldog

Maine: September 19, 2016 -- FARMINGTON - The person credited with getting the historic Red School House moved for permanent installation at the fairgrounds was honored on Sunday. Ronald Pratt of Farmington, was applauded and received a plaque noting the accomplishment of saving and finding a location for the circa 1852 one room school house building and its large collection of artifacts, which can now be enjoyed by generations to come. Known affectionately as the Little Red School House and located in West Farmington, closed its classroom door in 1958. It was a trend at the time when many neighborhood schools closed as the new school district moved to consolidate into larger classes in the more modern facilities. Once closed, the Red Schoolhouse Museum Committee was formed by members of the Farmington and Wilton historical societies. They became the caretakers of the school building, which was situated on land owned and leased to them by JJ Nissen Baking Co. When the historical societies could no longer afford to pay the insurance to keep the school house open and Nissen was looking to sell the parcel at the corner of Wilton and Red Schoolhouse roads, a decision had to be made. "It was either find another location for it or raze it," said Susan McCleery Small, the volunteer director of the school house museum.

Equity in funding public schools still eludes policymakers
-- Maureen Downey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia: September 18, 2016 -- At least seven commissions have attempted to remedy school funding inequities in Georgia without success, a record not atypical for school finance reform across the country. In most states, school funding relies on property taxes, which hinge on local will — how much a local community is willing to tax itself for education — and local capacity — how much those taxes will raise — rather than how much it actually costs to educate a child. As imperfect as the approach may be, Americans seem reluctant to break with it, likely because it works for higher-income communities. Those communities contend they should be able to provide greater resources for their schools if their taxpayers are willing to do so. States attempt to equalize disparities in high- and low-wealth areas, but a gap remains. During the 2017 legislative session, Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to seek changes to Georgia’s decades-old school-funding formula based on his own recent reform commission but it’s doubtful he will delve too deeply into the property tax debate. No one else has.

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