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School facilities study could become plan costing $100 million
-- Rick Wagner, TimesNews

Tennessee: April 19, 2015 -- Sullivan County’s school facilities study, set to be accepted by the county school board May 4, and the parallel but separate Kingsport study may morph into a capital plan costing about $100 million total instead of more than $300 million. Or at least that’s the take county Director of Schools Jubal Yennie gave to the county Board of Education during a Thursday evening work session. When Ohio-based consultant Tracy Richter gives an update on the facilities study to the school board 6 p.m. Monday, Yennie said to look for a plan calling for two new high schools with a twist. Instead of building two new 1,700 or 1,800 high schools to replace the four existing county high schools, Yennie said the plan may be tweaked to build two 1,200-student schools of two pods with a third pod to be built later. He said that would shave about $20 million off the cost of a two new high schools option that would cost more than $200 million.

Districts could soon share construction funding with charter schools
-- Erin Kourkounis , The Tampa Tribune

Florida: April 19, 2015 -- Traditional public schools in Florida could soon be required to share money designated for construction and maintenance with charter schools in their districts. Last month, the majority-Republican House approved a bill that includes a last-minute provision that calls for school districts to divert some of the local property tax money they can raise for construction and maintenance costs to charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run. Local school district officials say the move — praised by charter school operators — could place financial burdens on districts that are already operating under tight capital budgets that go toward expenses like maintaining aging school buildings, building new ones and purchasing new school buses. “We’ve already, over the last several years, had less dollars to use for our own maintenance,” acting Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins recently told the Tribune’s editorial board. “Any additional dollars we would lose would definitely be a challenge for us. It will create a bigger backlog on our maintenance issues for our buildings and a strain on our budget.” A Florida Department of Education analysis distributed to school districts earlier this month estimates that Hillsborough County charter schools could be up for about $8 million of the capital outlay money the school district draws each year from local property taxes, if the Legislature does not set aside money to go to the charters. This year, Hillsborough is slated to receive a total of a little over $100 million from a 1.5 mill property tax. Of that, $66 million will go toward debt service payments. If the Legislature sets aside $100 million for charter school construction and maintenance as the House has proposed, the amount Hillsborough County would have to provide to its charter schools would drop to $1.5 million. Those numbers could change, as state budget talks are not expected to wrap up until this summer.

State Breaks Ground on New School in Ranchester
-- Anthony Hughes, Wyoming School Facilities Department

Wyoming: April 13, 2015 -- CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Bill Panos, director of the state’s School Facilities Department (SFD), has announced the groundbreaking of a new elementary school in Sheridan County School District #1, Ranchester. Designed by Plan One Architects, Tongue River Elementary will span 51,308 square feet and have the capacity to serve 365 students in grades K-5. A formal groundbreaking ceremony will be held Tuesday, April 14, 2015. “It’s very exciting to see this project take another important step toward reality,” Panos said. “We are fortunate to live in a state where both the governor and Legislature are committed to providing children with high quality educational facilities.”

Historic school building in Harnett County has a new purpose
-- Chick Jacobs, fayobserver.com

North Carolina: April 12, 2015 -- DUNN - This fall, a historic school in Harnett County will be a school again. And a barber shop. And an apartment complex for seniors, with a recreation center for the young. It's an amazing renovation for a building that, a year ago, was home only to memories and pigeons. "This is a very impressive project and one that will benefit a lot of people in Dunn," said Steven Neuschafer, the assistant city manager. He was standing in what was once a classroom of the Harnett County Training School. The imposing red-brick building on Dunn's northeast side was one of the largest black schools in eastern North Carolina and a monument to education's segregated past in the state. Last year, it was included in a list of 17 historic state buildings. Now the main school building is being converted into senior housing. Nearby classrooms are being restored for use by Central Carolina Community College. A day care next door and the Dunn Police Athletic League program will use the renovated gym, meaning the former school will be meeting the needs of three generations of Harnett County residents. The project, which will renovate or replace more than 80,000 square feet, is budgeted at more than $9 million. It is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year.

Unified sets plan for more than 350 maintenance projects
-- AARON KNAPP, The Journal Times

Wisconsin: April 12, 2015 -- It’s now possible to see what maintenance projects the Racine Unified School District plans to do over the next 10 years. The to-do list includes more than 350 maintenance projects throughout most of the district’s buildings, along with a planned completion date for some of the projects. The list may change as new needs arise. “The purpose of the plan is not to lock the district in and say this is what we’re going to do; the purpose of the plan is to say that as we save up money these are the things we could be doing with that money,” said Unified Chief Operations Officer Dave Hazen at a school board meeting last month. The plan The new plan adopted by the school board last month is a revised version of the five-year maintenance list put together last year. The amount of deferred and upcoming maintenance needs on the previous list was one of the most pressing reasons why the district sought $128 million in additional local tax revenue over 15 years through a maintenance and technology referendum, which district voters approved in November. The new list identifies nearly $117 million in facilities upkeep over the next 10 years. That amount doesn’t include work finished last summer. Projects listed in the 10-year plan generally include maintenance like replacing interior finishes, wiring, plumbing, HVAC systems, roofs and other tasks.

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