LA Unified works overtime to repair air-conditioners as summer school begins
Mike Szymanski, LA School Report
June 20, 2016
-- A much-touted heat wave hitting the Southland resulted Monday in 108 service calls — but no emergencies — for air-conditioning units at LA Unified schools as summer school begins for elementary and middle schools on Tuesday.
The technicians for the school district’s facilities division began working overtime over the weekend in preparation for the anticipated high temperatures, according to Elvia Perez Cano of the LA Unified communications department.
“They will and continue to work overtime all week,” Cano said.
Colorado districts look to spend millions upgrading classroom locks
Mike Kennedy, American School and University
June 20, 2016
-- Colorado school districts looking to bolster security are planning to spend millions of dollars upgrading locks on classroom doors.
The Denver Post says the districts need the equipment retrofits to comply with an updated Colorado Division of Fire and Prevention Control code requirement that that calls for public, charter and junior colleges to have locks in designated classrooms that can be locked from the inside.
According to the revised regulation, non-compliant locks must be removed by Jan. 1, 2018.
The Denver district has scheduled a $572 million bond election for November and has earmarked $4 million for classroom door locks that enable students and teachers to secure a room without having to go into the corridor. District officials say the planned upgrades are less about the fire code requirement and more of a proactive desire to enhance the safety of students and staff.
Senators Stewart-Cousins And Latimer Announce Passage Of Major School Construction Program For Yonkers
Staff Writer, Long Island Exchange
June 17, 2016
-- (Long Island, NY) State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Senate Democratic Leader, Senator George Latimer, Assemblymember Shelley Mayer and Assemblymember Gary Pretlow today announced that legislation they sponsored to help rebuild crumbling Yonkers City schools and invest in new construction has been passed by both houses of the State Legislature. The Yonkers City School District Joint Schools Construction and Modernization Act will authorize financing up to $523 million for new buildings and improvements to existing structures.
“No student should be forced to attend classes in a building that is crumbling around them,” Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “The process started through this legislation will help construct three new school facilities and modernize current buildings. It is crucial that we invest in our school infrastructure so our children have equal opportunities to learn, grow and succeed in the new economy. I was happy to lead the push for this legislation through the Senate and I congratulate Mayor Spano and the students of Yonkers.”
Assembly passes schools modernization aid bill
Steve Orr, Democrat & Chronicle
June 16, 2016
-- After a delay forced by a stubborn Assemblyman David Gantt, the state Assembly approved a bill Thursday considered crucial to Rochester's schools modernization program.
The delay has already forced postponement of some work in the next phase of the modernization program, and could cause larger problems if the measure is not signed into law relatively soon by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. As of Monday, the Cuomo administration had not yet indicated that the governor would sign the bill.
The bill was approved on the legislative session's final day. Two years ago, another Rochester school modernization bill went down to the wire until it was approved on the 2014 session's final day.
Gantt, D-Rochester, had said he opposed this bill because he wasn't consulted when it was drafted and because he has unanswered questions about the minority-business component of the modernization program's first phase. He expanded his arguments Thursday to say he had other questions about Phase I work.
But his colleagues weren't persuaded. After a relatively tame 22-minute debate between Gantt and Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, members voted 103 to 7 in favor of the measure. It passed the state Senate June 6.
Rochester's school modernization program, for which planning began a decade ago, would spend up to $1.3 billion to bring several dozen aging city school buildings into the 21st century. Much of the cost would be covered by state education aid.
Denver school board approves $628 million bond and mill package, new charter schools
Nicholas Garcia, Chalkbeat
June 16, 2016
-- Denver voters will be asked in November to raise an additional $628 million in taxes to pay for school construction and the expansion of educational programs after the Denver school board Thursday voted unanimously in favor of a bond and mill levy override.
The board also approved two new charter schools and voted to place three other charter schools in buildings owned by the school district.
The $572 million bond would allow Denver Public Schools to build new schools, renovate old ones, install heat mitigation systems such as air conditioning in its hottest schools and increase the number of schools able to provide devices such as computers to every student.
“There’s a lot of good things in this proposal for schools, especially the hottest schools,” said board member Rosemary Rodriguez.
Due to rising property values and decreasing debt, DPS figures it can raise the $572 million without increasing the current tax rate.
Issaquah School District to work on host of new projects following bond passage
Staff Writer, Issaquah Reporter
June 16, 2016
-- After the recent passage of the $533.5 million bond for school construction and maintenance, the Issaquah School District has a host of exciting new projects in its future.
The bond, approved on April 26 by a whopping 71 percent of voters (only 60 percent were needed), will pay for the creation of four new schools in the district — two new elementary schools, a sixth middle school and a fourth high school. Additionally, Discovery, Endeavour, Sunset, Cougar Ridge, Maple Hills and Clark elementary schools will be renovated and enlarged so that each school receives four to eight new classrooms. The 36-year-old Pine Lake Middle School will be entirely rebuilt with all the latest technological and environmental advances.
The plans have been in the works for quite awhile already, as school district employees and residents alike noticed the impact that a quickly growing population was having on local schools. In the past four years alone, the district gained 2,000 new students, and estimates show another 1,500 to 2,000 kids joining in the next five.
"We could foresee there were going to be growth issues," Issaquah School District Director of Capital Projects Steve Crawford said. "Community members were asking how we were going to accommodate it."
Issaquah and Skyline high schools already have around 2,200 students each, and if there is no new high school built, then these numbers could go up to 2,400 or 2,500 within a few years, Crawford said. He explained that ideally, a high school should have no more than 1,600 students.
Jumbo-sized schools have many drawbacks, such as a schedule with three to four different lunch periods and large class sizes.
School playgrounds in ‘disrepair’
Anna Maria Lemoine, thewesterlysun.com
June 16, 2016
-- WESTERLY — The condition of the town’s elementary school playgrounds is once again in the spotlight after a comprehensive report on municipal fields and parks showed that the town spends less than 40 hours annually on upkeep.
School Committee member Gina Fuller, who had previously raised concerns about the state of the playgrounds at State Street, Bradford, Dunn’s Corners and Springbrook schools, said the playgrounds are in “complete disrepair and have been almost all school year.”
During the committee’s meeting Wednesday, Fuller pointed out that the playground surfaces are uneven and have holes, and there are missing swings, for example.
“We dedicate nine hours a year to each individual playground,” Fuller said. “Just over a thousand elementary students have recess twice a day for 184 days a school year. I still haven’t seen any improvements.
“I would like to see, now that we have some data, a plan put in place and some money to take care of our playgrounds properly.”
Maryland official proposes drastically cutting back public school inspections
Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun
June 15, 2016
-- The Maryland official who oversees public school construction has proposed to drastically cut back inspections of local school buildings, saying that the state does not have enough staff to keep up.
With hundreds of millions of state dollars each year invested in public schools, Maryland has had an aggressive program of inspections. State inspectors aim to visit more than 200 schools a year to check such things as roof condition, electrical and plumbing systems, the upkeep of grounds, recreational equipment and fire safety.
Any problems are reported to the local superintendent with instructions to get them fixed.
David G. Lever, head of the state's Interagency Committee on School Construction, proposed Wednesday that the target for inspections be reduced from this year's 220 schools to 100 during the fiscal year that begins July 1. That would extend the time between inspections from once every six years to once every eight.
Lever floated the plan at Wednesday's meeting of the powerful five-member body that oversees the work. He said the agency cannot maintain the inspection schedule because of staffing problems.
"We're dealing with reality — the reality of getting the job done," he said. "It's been a struggle every year because of staffing issues."
Baldwin-Whitehall warned that proposed custodian cuts could reduce schools' cleanliness
STEPHANIE HACKE, triblive
June 15, 2016
-- The cleanliness of Baldwin-Whitehall's schools likely would decline — some to a level “not normally acceptable in a school environment” — if board members move forward with proposed cuts to custodial staff for 2016-17, a consultant said.
In the past 10 years, Baldwin-Whitehall went from 47½ full-time equivalent custodians to 33 custodians now cleaning the district's 985,547 square feet of building space, consultant John Frombach told board members June 9, as he presented a review of the district's facilities department.
“You're stretching the custodial staff about as far as you can stretch them,” Frombach said.
“You have to look at what else is being done by the custodian other than cleaning.”
That can include shoveling snow or preparing for special events, he said.
Baldwin-Whitehall administrators in April proposed cutting 13 professional jobs and reducing 22 full-time operational positions to half time for 2016-17 in an effort to balance the district's $62.4 million budget.
That included a proposal to eliminate eight full-time equivalent custodial positions.
The proposed cuts were based on program changes and fluctuating enrollment, administrators said.
County schools applying for $5 million in interest-free bonds to fix roofs
Trent Moore, The Cullman Times
June 15, 2016
-- With the system facing several capital needs due to aging facilities, the Cullman County Board of Education is pursuing approximately more than $5 million in interest-free funding to address some critical problems within the next few years.
The system has applied for $5.5 million in QZAB (Qualified Zone Academy Bonds) funds, which are made available through the Department of Education. The system has a laundry list of repairs, with most centering on leaky roofs and general maintenance for facilities that are reaching several decades in age.
The system previously received $1.3 million in QZAB funds last year.
“This could help alleviate a lot of capital needs in the next few years,” system finance director Ed Roberson said.
The funds would mostly be used to repair roofs, make necessary upgrades and maintenance (i.e. electrical, HVAC issues, replace old windows, etc.) across the system’s 28 schools. The system was actually forced to close Garden City Schools last year due to foundation issues at the 80-year-old school house. The money cannot be used for athletic facilities, meaning the money could not be used to repair Fairview High’s stadium, which was condemned for structural concerns. Repairs are on track to be completed this fall at Fairview.
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