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This guide provides a framework for community involvement in the complex process of modernizing or building new public school buildings.

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Planned school-YMCA called 'transformative'
-- CYNTHIA SEWELL, Idaho Statesman

Idaho: November 21, 2014 -- Marti Hill and Dixie Cook long envisioned turning part of their South Meridian family farm into a community park. The Treasure Valley YMCA has envisioned building a new facility and aquatics center in that area. The West Ada School District needs a new elementary school in the same part of town. And the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation has a long and storied tradition of supporting education and community projects. Earlier this year, in a shop on the Hill family farm, these groups came together with the idea of collaborating on a project that would accomplish all of these needs and wants. On Thursday, the Albertson Foundation and Hill family took the first steps to tip the project from dream to reality: a $4 million donation from the foundation and a 22-acre land donation from the family. "Dixie and Marti have set into a motion a transformative project," Jamie MacMillan, president of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, said at a news conference in the same shop where the project was conceived. "This community will be blessed with a wonderful place to play, to learn and to grow at their family YMCA, and their city park and a new elementary school."

At some overcrowded Nashville schools, the student body is only getting bigger
-- ANDREA ZELINSKI , Nashville Scene

Tennessee: November 20, 2014 -- Kristen Vaughn had been warned. Bring a blanket, they said — you're going to need it. She volunteered for the assignment anyway: to teach in a portable classroom behind Tusculum Elementary School. A few inconveniences, she expected. But nobody told her she'd have to battle so many wasps. Or what it would really be like to keep her students' attention when her classroom's temperature soared to 82 degrees in the first days of school. Or when temperatures plunged last week, with winter yet to begin. She'll have to keep the heat on in her classroom overnight through the winter months. That way it will be warm when students get there the next morning, and it'll stay heated throughout the day — though she admits that's an art she hasn't mastered yet. She'll have to hope all her kids have jackets, hats and gloves and don't lose them during the day, as happens all the time in schools across the city. At her school, many parents can't afford to replace them. These are daily concerns when you're teaching in a metal box, Vaughn says, as her third-graders chatter around her. "They know that this doesn't happen at other schools," she says. "They can sense that this is a little bit unfair." But they're hardly alone. This particular box, a stone's throw from Nolensville Road, is surrounded by 21 others just like it. The beige modules are filled — not only with second-, third- and fourth-grade students, but with their teachers, reading specialists, music teachers and family resource officers. They are scattered around the school's backyard like rows of Monopoly houses. And without them, there would be nowhere for these students to go. Tusculum, known as home base for the divisions-winning South Nashville Little League team, is only one of 69 schools placing demands on the district's 335 portable classrooms. They're a quick fix meant to defer a situation that's primarily a problem at schools here on the city's south side — but which affects the entire Metro school system.

SPECIAL REPORT: Stewart Middle School closes, community at odds with district
-- Kirsten Glavin, KETK

Texas: November 20, 2014 -- TYLER, TX (KETK) — "A great school makes a great community," said Carl Johnson, a former student and substitute teacher at Stewart Middle School. "Stewart is a great school that makes for a great community." It was the height of the Civil Rights Movement when, on August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. Two weeks later, Stewart Middle School opened its doors to the community. "That pride of that moment, of that time, not only in Tyler, but in America as a general whole, and what pride was being exhibited there by the black community [is what made this possible]," recalled Carl Johnson. "We were having a black school in a black neighborhood by black educators that were part of our generation and it was very exciting at that time." After recently celebrating it's 50-year anniversary, those doors will soon be closed forever in a devastating blow to the community. Many are holding on to the fond memories of school pride closer than ever before. "There's not a person or family inside of the attending community of Stewart that will ever want to see that building close," Johnson said. The students agree.

Board of Education approves $223 million in plan
-- Donna Broadway , The Sentinel

Maryland: November 20, 2014 -- ANNAPOLIS – The Montgomery County Board of Education approved an additional $223.3 million in amendments to Dr. Joshua Starr’s six-year Capital Improvements Program (CIP). Starr said the funds will help Montgomery County Public Schools address its growing enrollment, which is estimated to increase to 165,000 students by the 2020-2021 school year. “Our space shortage is an urgent matter for our students, staff, parents and community members. We need to add space as quickly as possible not only to serve our current students, but to serve those we know are coming in the near future,” said BOE president Phil Kauffman. “Montgomery County Public Schools is Maryland’s largest, fastest-growing district and we simply need more help from the state to meet our district’s construction needs.” During the 2014 legislative session, representatives from Montgomery County, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County went to Annapolis to ask the General Assembly to approve additional funds to help with school construction, but the General Assembly did not approve the funds. The school system’s CIP budget for fiscal 2015-2020 was approved at $214 million less than requested. The board’s requested amendments would increase the six-year CIP to $1.75 billion.

North Allegheny redistricting prevented crowding in schools, officials say
-- Tory N. Parrish, TribLive Neighborhoods

Pennsylvania: November 20, 2014 -- The North Allegheny School District's redistricting helped offset the demographic shifts the district has been experiencing for several years, an official said. School administrators presented enrollment and facilities and capital funding plan updates at a board meeting Wednesday. There were 8,229 students enrolled in the district on the third day of school this academic year, compared to 8,257 in 2013-14 and 8,212 in 2012-13. In February, the school board approved a controversial plan to redraw school boundaries because Franklin and McKnight elementary schools and Ingomar Middle School were or soon would be crowded because of population shifts, district officials said. There were 3,549 students enrolled in the elementary schools and 1,927 enrolled in middle schools on the third day of school, but the redistricting plan that took effect at the start of the school year alleviated or prevented crowding problems, said Roger Botti, director of transportation and operations. Ingomar Middle School, for example, is considered to have a maximum capacity of 600 students. Without the redistricting, 645 would have been enrolled, instead of the 566 enrolled now, according to district data. Franklin Elementary School can accommodate 550 students. Without the redistricting, 514 would have been enrolled, instead of the 430 enrolled now, according to district data.

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