NCEF News summarizes and provides links to news stories about educational facilities nationwide. Links to older articles may no longer be active.
Portland, Oregon schools quietly build bond supportJennifer Anderson, Portland Tribune
May 31, 2012
OREGON: Portland Public Schools' $548 million construction bond measure failed last May by 578 votes.
Stuart Emmons was part of that dissent, but he says this time around -- if and when the school board refers a capital bond measure to the November ballot -- he's a yes vote. "I think there's been a lot more transparency and community outreach this time," says Emmons, an architect and parent of a senior at Lincoln. "It's going to be more from the community -- it's our problem, not just PPS' problem. These are our schools. The community needs to own this challenge."
After last year's narrow defeat, Emmons was one of 31 activist parents, teachers and students; elected and business leaders; and construction and design experts who volunteered to serve on the district's Bond Development Committee.
The committee will recommend to the school board one of four possible bond options, which the public has previewed in recent weeks. All are cheaper than last year's big request that would have cost $2 per $1,000 of assessed property value. That bond would have increased a homeowner's property tax by about $300 a year for a home assessed at $143,000. Three of the proposed packages now on the table would cost half as much, and one would cost $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The two options that have generated the most support are to capitalize on the help of potential funding partners (rebuilding one high school, two K8s and two elementary schools); and to focus on the high schools (rebuilding three high schools and one K8).
Illinois School District Spending $1.1 Million on Energy UpgradesDian Schaffhauser, THE Journal
May 30, 2012
ILLINOIS: A small school district in Illinois has signed a $1.1 million contract to do work on its facilities that will reduce its energy needs. Grayville Community Unit School District #1 has chosen Ameresco to handle structural and environmental improvements after working with the same company to perform an assessment of the work required.
The district, which has about 320 students, issued a request for proposal for a guaranteed energy cost savings contract in March 2011 and signed the agreement with Ameresco a year later. In this type of contract energy cost savings are guaranteed to the extent necessary to make payments for the upgrades. Ameresco will handle purchasing, design, construction, commissioning, and project management.
California schools rev up bond drivesDiana Lambert, Sacramento Bee
May 30, 2012
CALIFORNIA: Year after year of state budget cuts have pushed school districts throughout California – and several locally – to ask voters to approve new revenue streams in the form of bond measures for building repairs and new technology. The districts seem to want the same things – roofs that don't leak, efficient heating and air conditioning systems and infrastructure that supports computers in classrooms, among other things.
Statewide, school districts are asking voters to approve $2.67 billion in bonds in the June 5 election, said David Kline of the California Taxpayers Association.
Locally, only a $9 million bond in the Pollock Pines Elementary School District will be on the June ballot, but other districts throughout the Sacramento region are lining up to secure voter approval for bond measures in November.
San Juan Unified is considering a $350 million general obligation bond. Washington Unified in West Sacramento may go for a $30 million bond, while Folsom Cordova Unified is looking at a bond of about $60 million. "The bond is important to our ability to prepare students for the future by providing safe learning environments," said Cathy Allen, San Juan's senior director of facilities and planning.
But districts that choose to go for a bond in the fall may be facing an uphill battle. Not only will they be in competition with two statewide tax initiatives to fund education, but residents in the city of Sacramento also may be voting on a sales tax hike.
School bond measures have shown varying degrees of success at the ballot box in recent years. Statewide, about 26 percent of 95 school bond measures introduced between 2009 and 2011 failed, a website run by municipal finance expert Michael Coleman shows. Sacramento-area voters rejected six of the last 10 bonds on election ballots. The districts must convince voters of the merits of the bonds, which are paid for by adding fees on property taxes. The maximum allowed per bond is $60 per $100,000 of equity for unified school districts, and $30 for elementary or high school districts.
Virginia Tech working toward camera-covered campusTonio Moxley, Washington Post
May 29, 2012
VIRGINIA: Northern Virginia-based X7 Systems Integration is working under a nearly $1 million contract to install a networked video security system around Virginia Tech campus. Since the April 16, 2007, campus shootings, the university has become a testing ground and even model for campus safety, including an extensive threat assessment program. The project could result in up to 2,500 security cameras being installed around the 2,600-acre campus over the next several years, and add one more layer to Tech’s security efforts. “You never stop trying to make the campus safer,” university spokesman Mark Owczarski said.
The contract with X7 Systems, dated April 2011, allows for three phases of the project, including the already completed $221,098 installation of cameras in the Perry Street parking garage that opened last year. Phase two of the project will upgrade the approximately 250 cameras scattered across campus. That work is expected to be completed by December and cost $708,736, Owczarski said. For a decade or more, there have been security cameras on campus, but the technologies and the oversight have been decentralized. They range from cameras on automated teller machines installed and monitored by banks to a camera trained on a piece of the moon kept in the dean of engineering’s suite.
While cameras already are part of campus life, “what hasn’t been in place is a policy and a directive to manage them more effectively,” Owczarski said. Police have talked about a centralized security camera system for years, Owczarski said. Now with the X7 contract, that process is under way. The centralized system includes a strict acceptable use policy for the cameras and those who monitor them, and outlines ethical and legal guidelines, as well as regulations for archiving and using footage. The policy also establishes a five-member Surveillance Oversight Committee, including representatives from Tech police, student affairs, facilities, emergency management and university relations to review all requests for cameras. The police department, in cooperation with the information technology division, ensures that best practices are followed for all cameras installed, according to the policy.
Wellesley College takes on $100 million campus renovationMary Moore, Boston Business Journal
May 29, 2012
MASSACHUSETTS: Wellesley College is undertaking a $100 million renovation of its campus buildings, to be paid for through a total $150 million in bonds the college issued on March 28. The renovation package includes upgrades to the facade of the college's Tower Court residence hall, a 95-year-old structure that was leaching water through its stone and brick exterior. The renovations planned for other campus buildings are wide ranging, and include running new steam lines for heat to some of the campus residences, as well as incorporating sustainable elements – new lighting, for example – in all of the projects.
The order in which buildings are prioritized for renovation will depend on the outcome of a planning document, called the 2025 Campus Renewal Plan, now in the works at Wellesley College. The document should be completed in the next three to four months, said Andrew B. Evans, Wellesley's vice president for finance and college treasurer. If, for example, strengthening some of the college's science programs is considered a more urgent concern, science buildings would be among the first to be renovated, Evans said.
Nature play area to nurture all; Inclusive play area will offer outdoor education and funMary Shapiro, Suburban Journals
May 29, 2012
MISSOURI: A two-acre field behind Keysor Elementary School will soon be gone and replaced by a fully-accessible, all-inclusive outdoor learning and play area. Construction will begin in June on phase one of Project IDEA, which stands for "Imagination, Discovery, Exploration, Adventure."
At a student groundbreaking on May 23, Bryan Painter, principal of Keysor, called the planned project a way to champion both the environment and the importance of play. "It will be the first of its kind among metro St. Louis area schools, much more than just an accessible playground," said parent Mike Knopfel, a Project IDEA volunteer. "It will take kids out of the indoor classroom and into a landscape for learning."
As part of a garden lab, the school has purchased a greenhouse and science probes and sensors, Painter said. "So students can take real-time data on plants, air temperature and humidity, for instance, and later analyze it," he said.
Brandie Martine, a parent who serves as Project IDEA cochair with Painter, said the site will have handicapped-accessible play equipment, trees, berms, rain gardens, a garden lab, a prairie, a small amphitheater that can be used by Keysor classes for classes and small performances, and two IDEA houses.
Painter said the houses will be for kids to play and learn in. "We plan to have growing plants on trays on the roof of one house, so students will be able to do data collection," he said. "For the second house, we're working with companies to put solar panels on the roof to potentially power a pump that would take rainwater from a rain barrel to water the roof of the other house." Part of that second house will be underground with a Plexiglas wall so kids can look below the surface of the ground. "The ideas is to plant plants outside the house with different root structures so the kids will be able to watch the root development of the plants underground," Painter said. Project IDEA is meant to help kids become better stewards of the environment, and it will be open to all area residents and groups. The first step in taking care of the environment, Painter said, is helping kids appreciate nature by being in it. "For example, through composting, which we'll do at the site, we hope kids will think twice about what they might otherwise throw away and think about whether it might end up in a landfill," Painter said. Planning for Project IDEA started about four years ago.
Baltimore Mayor Calls for Bottle Tax Vote to Pay for School ConstructionAdam Bednar, North Baltimore Patch
May 29, 2012
MARYLAND: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is pressuring members of the City Council’s Taxation and Finance Committee to hold a vote on her proposed increase of the city’s bottle tax. The mayor issued a news release calling on members of the committee to hold the vote, after Hampden Elementary and Middle Schools were closed because of the heat.
"The needs of our school buildings—which are the oldest in the state—are great," Rawlings-Blake said in the release. "Every year, thousands of children lose school days because of preventable infrastructure issues. I know that many members of the Council are willing and ready to take concrete action to help improve our schools. A small minority of members continue to stall our efforts to improve the schools with more talk and diversions. I am tired of talking—it is time for us to take action."
The mayor, as part of her Better Schools Initiative, has proposed increasing the city’s bottle tax from 2 cents to 5 cents to help leverage bonds to pay for a proposed $300 million in school construction and renovations.
Yonkers' aging schools see hope. District eyes $1.7B project in public, private pactGary Stern, The Journal News
May 28, 2012
NEW YORK: The aging and overcrowded school buildings of Yonkers are in such disrepair that school officials want to create a public-private partnership that would renovate the city’s schools and potentially transform school construction across the country. That’s if the numbers add up.
School officials envision a 15-year, $1.7 billion project that would involve a team of private companies renovating and maintaining city-owned schools in exchange for a set monthly fee paid by the city and state. The idea is that a private team could do large-scale work more efficiently, making reliable profits for itself while offering Yonkers the only affordable way to house its growing student body.
Private-public partnerships have been developed elsewhere to build bridges, courthouses and more, but Yonkers would be the first community in the mainland United States to rebuild schools with what is known as a P3. “No one has challenged the way schools are built in New York, but this is exactly what Yonkers is doing,” said Robert Hendriks, a veteran school construction consultant on Long Island. “In Yonkers, they recognize the magnitude of their challenge and they see that they need an approach that changes everything. If this works, it could replace the old model of doing things.” Yonkers Superintendent of Schools Bernard Pierorazio and other officials have spent the past several years studying private-public partnerships and simultaneously preparing state and local educators and politicians for their possibly game-changing plan. “Everybody knows it’s coming,” Pierorazio said. “Everyone is watching, and a lot of people want this to work.”
Much will be known about the project’s feasibility by late summer. A team of blue-chip advisers hired by the school district in April is expected to release a report that will evaluate whether such a massive P3 would make economic sense for the city and the state.
New Minneapolis school district headquarters shine brightSteve Brandt, Star-Tribune
May 28, 2012
MINNESOTA: Its new neighbors hope the new Minneapolis school headquarters will be good for business. But school leaders' most prominent hope is that the twinned buildings will transform how school employees work. The $41.7 million complex, which is nearing completion, marks the first time the Minneapolis district has built a headquarters, decades after St. Paul and Anoka-Hennepin, the other two big metro districts, built theirs.
The first employees are scheduled to move in six weeks into space at 1250 W. Broadway that projects a utilitarian image, in contrast with such government palaces as City Hall and the Hennepin County Government Center. But judging by a preview tour Friday, it's light-years ahead of the rambling warren of offices in a former factory the district has occupied since the 1930s, a little more than 2 miles east on Broadway. The current space "kind of sucks the life out of you," architect Tod S. Elkins said. The district sought a flexible, modern headquarters, but also one that wasn't too fancy for the tough economic times, he said.
The district reserved the frills for technology, not furnishings. There's no marble or granite, unlike the monuments to city and county government downtown. Floors are mostly finished in carpet squares of varying hues, with slate-like vinyl in some high-traffic areas. The complex's technology reinforces the district's push to go as paperless as possible. Computers will have fewer printers. Desks will have fewer filing drawers. The district digitized and shredded more than 90,000 pounds of paper that it won't have to haul to the new quarters.
It's an open design intended to encourage collaboration. Meeting space was at a premium in the old headquarters, and trucks on Broadway or window air-conditioners sometimes drowned out discussion. The new space has dozens of conference spaces, many of them concentrated in a glass-walled link that connects a four-story building on Broadway with a five-story twin set behind it. But cubbyholes for two-person sessions also dot the complex. The district and its contractors are aiming for gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council after setting out to get the silver level. Besides handling all of its stormwater on the site, the design maximizes natural lighting, uses movement-triggered lights that also adjust themselves for outside light, and flushes urinals with just a quart of water. Carbon dioxide monitors will adjust ventilation according to the number of people occupying space.
The district will even ban most small portable appliances, such as heaters and refrigerators, from individual cubicles, something it never could have done at the drafty 1914 onetime light-bulb factory it now occupies.
The complex will house some 600 workers, coming from four scattered buildings. The district projects it will spend $2 million less annually on administrative space by halving the amount of space those workers use. But with an expected 1,000 people a day using the space, counting adult basic education, employee training and school registration, demand for parking could exceed the supply, according to Mitch Trockman, a district's project team member. The district is reserving spots for carpools, encouraging employees to bus, and providing showers and lockers for bikers.
Many district residents visit its headquarters mainly to attend board meetings, and they'll get a boardroom that's plush only in comparison to the homely room now used. It's one-third bigger, with wiring to handle board meetings on the dais and less-formal discussion meetings. Projection screens and speakers will make the discussion more accessible. The building's cafeteria will serve as overflow space with more screens.
Green-tech high school surprisingly expensiveWayne Bryan, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
May 27, 2012
ARKANSAS: The Arkansas Board of Education has designated the Bismarck School District as “fiscally distressed” because it is spending more than it takes in and is drawing down its reserves. District Superintendent Susan Stewart-Harper said at least some of the district’s money problems come from the change orders required in constructing its $12 million high school that opened in 2010 and the unexpected costs of maintaining and operating the “green” facility that was designed to save water, energy and expenses while improving environmental quality.
The high school was built with some of the state-of-the art, high-tech features that meet standards established to promote sustainability and efficiency in operations while creating a better environment for learning. “We’re very proud of our building,” Stewart-Harper told the state education board on May 14 when she appeared before the board in Little Rock to answer questions about the district’s financial problems. “With the new ‘green’ technology, there are so many things that are unexpected. Issues come up that you have never heard of and never dealt with before.”
This is far from what Bismarck school officials said they expected from the 875,000-square-foot high school that is not yet 2 years old. In June 2010, Stewart-Harper and Larry Newsom, principal of Bismarck High School, conducted a tour of the new school building before it was opened. “There are energy-saving features all through the high school,” Newsom said at the time.
Asked if the Bismarck High School is a lemon for the school district, Stewart-Harper said no. “I really don’t think it is,” she said. “It’s a great building, but there are so many costs associated with a green building that were not anticipated.”
When the school was first built, district officials were told that in similar green-technology schools built around the state, energy savings and lower maintenance costs would allow school systems to recover almost the total cost of the building in the first 12 years of operation. “We’re not seeing that yet,” Stewart-Harper said this week. Stewart-Harper reported to the state education board that the school’s waste-management system requires daily monitoring at a cost of $2,000 a month. She also said the nontraditional, forced-air heating and air-conditioning system requires a level of maintenance that must be done by specialized workers instead of school-district maintenance employees. Newsom explained in 2010 that air moving over pipes in which water circulates would come into the classrooms about waist high or lower and that the air would only move up when it hits a student’s body. Stewart-Harper explained during the 2010 tour that as more students entered a room, causing the air temperature to rise, the cooling system would respond to the changes and adjust the temperature.
Stewart-Harper said the change orders totaled $331,000. “The changes came from things such as correcting the subgrade for the entrance drive, constructing a handicap accessible sidewalk to the gym, additional electrical wiring, an audiovisual system for student performances, and relocation of the waste water treatment plant due to unstable soil,” she said in a statement.
Echo Pacific Construction Begins Modernization in the Anaheim City School District With Lease-Lease Back ProjectPress Release, Market Watch
May 27, 2012
CALIFORNIA: Echo Pacific Construction, Inc. is pleased to announce the commencement of construction on the Gauer Elementary School campus in Anaheim. As one of the largest elementary school districts in California, Anaheim City School District offers a broad range of programs and learning opportunities, enhanced by strong support from families and the community. We at Echo Pacific Construction share in the District's vision "to work together to create a culture of excellence." The modernization project is part of the District's $163 million bond measure. Measure G was approved by voters in 2010 for new construction and modernization on 24 campuses.
This is the first Lease-Lease Back project between the Anaheim City School District and Echo Pacific. "This is a District with strong leadership and a clear vision for its student base and facilities. There is a successful track record here of project delivery using Lease-Lease Back. We are grateful for the opportunity to bring some of our experience to the table to help take the program to the next level of value and execution," said Chris Rowe, Owner and President of Echo Pacific.
As part of a district wide plan to create learning environments that will promote a "culture of excellence," the scope of the seven building modernization is to include full scale demolition of all interior and exterior finishes, removal and replacement of outdated infrastructure and the installation of the most up-to-date learning technology. New construction includes restroom upgrades with new fixtures and finishes, new cabinetry, windows, doors, hardware, floor and wall finishes, new ceilings and lighting, as well as modified plumbing and HVAC systems, and a new roof. The replacement of exterior utility lines, new asphalt paving, striping, exterior finishes, landscaping, and replacement of irrigation systems, will tie it all together to give the project the look, feel, and technology of a new campus.
Careful attention was paid by the District, its design team, Architect Adolph Ziemba AIA & Associates, and Echo Pacific to insure the latest and most efficient equipment and systems were integrated into the project as well as the very latest cutting edge learning technology. Responsible "Green" building practices, creating value and long range efficiency are being used, not just from a project execution perspective, but perhaps more importantly, from an ongoing operational standpoint.
Study: New schools lead to higher test scores in New Haven; researchers contend property values also increaseJim Shelton, New Haven Register
May 25, 2012
CONNECTICUT: City school officials are touting a new study that says the massive school building program is reaping both educational and economic benefits. The independent study, conducted by Yale University doctoral students Christopher Neilson and Seth Zimmerman, suggests that new school buildings led to higher reading scores, increased property values and better school enrollment within neighborhoods. “We believe that school construction is a key part of the school and neighborhood revitalization toolkit, and we view New Haven as a leader in this respect,” Neilson and Zimmerman, who both live in New Haven, noted in their conclusion.
Schools Chief Operating Officer Will Clark sent a copy of the study to members of the Board of Aldermen earlier this month during debate over spending additional money on city school construction. Since 1995, New Haven has embarked on a wave of school construction and renovation encompassing 40 projects at a price tag of $1.4 billion — with 80 percent of the funding coming from state and federal sources.
The main findings of the study included: Within six years of a new building’s occupancy, elementary and middle schools were able to raise Connecticut Mastery Test reading scores to a level comparable with students at “high-performing” charter schools. “If these gains can be maintained through the completion of school construction phase-in, they will reduce the gap between New Haven schools and schools in the rest of the state by 36 percent,” the study said. Yet the study found “little to suggest” that school construction made an impact on math scores.
Home prices rose by 11 percent in neighborhoods that saw an “average level” of school construction, compared to home prices in other city neighborhoods.
Public school enrollment increased in neighborhoods where new school buildings were constructed.
Detroit Public Schools, city officials team up to redevelop empty schoolsJennifer Chambers, Detroit News
May 25, 2012
MICHIGAN: They range from a two-story English Tudor-style building with a swimming pool, fireplace and two glass conservatories to a sprawling, graffiti-laden structure ravaged by thieves. But almost all of the 84 properties for sale by Detroit Public Schools once stood as thriving school buildings, bustling with children and long established landmarks in Detroit's storied neighborhoods. Today they sit vacant, victims of plummeting enrollment due to Detroit's population slide and the rise of charter schools. More than 100,000 children have left the hallways of DPS schools in the last decade.
To address the problem, school and city officials announced Wednesday they are collaborating on a citywide effort to reinvent vacant school buildings and sites into innovative redevelopment projects. At the same time, the Detroit Planning Commission, in order to speed the process of redeveloping school properties, has recommended an ordinance that would add 19 additional uses for buildings originally constructed as schools in residential zones.
The ordinance is before the city's law department and is expected to be considered by Detroit City Council in coming weeks. DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts said it costs the district from $300,000 to $900,000 to tear down a school. Roberts said he would rather see the buildings and sites repurposed and money from the sale going toward the students in the district, which is under state control and working to shed a multi-year deficit. Since 2009, DPS has made more than $8 million from the sale of vacant school properties. "We have over 100 closed schools," Roberts said at a day-long forum in Detroit dedicated to showcasing the schools and sites. "We want to make sure they don't become eyesores. The sale of these properties will do that."
No tax breaks — other than the ones that already exist — are available for the properties, Marcell Todd Jr., director of the City Planning Commission said. Historic tax credits could be available for the school buildings, many of which are eligible for a national tag. With 41,000 vacant seats in its schools, district officials have said more school closings are on the horizon. With 84 schools up for grabs and another 156 pieces of vacant land on its hands, officials reiterated they are ready to work with buyers. "It doesn't benefit any of us to have a vacant building," Deane said. "We are about getting deals done quickly. We want this property in your hands and out of ours."
Power SaveSara Cardine, Pasadena Weekly
May 24, 2012
CALIFORNIA: From June 2011 to the beginning of 2012, Pasadena Unified School District offset nearly $400,000 in energy spending, thanks partly to the efforts of newly hired energy education specialist Chris Anderson. Anderson, who segued from teaching math at Pasadena High School to take the position last May, is on a mission to save $1 million in a single year through rebates and energy saving efforts at the district’s 29 school sites. In a presentation Tuesday before PUSD’s Facilities Subcommittee, Anderson reported a total of $398,367 worth of costs had been avoided in six months time.
Cost avoidance is different from concrete savings, Anderson explained. For example, if last year the district paid $10 for 1 kilowatt of power and used 10 kilowatts, the cost would be $100. And then, say, this year the rate hiked to $11, but with the energy saving efforts in place, the district used only 9 kilowatts — its concrete savings would be only $1, but its cost avoidance would be $11, the difference between what it would have spent for the old usage at the new rate and what it actually had to pay.
Anderson earned PUSD an additional $19,513 in low energy rebates for guaranteeing unused school buildings would remain in a low-use state throughout last summer. When the totals from a full, one-year cycle are released this fall, Anderson expects the district will have gained nearly $80,000 in rebates.
During the six-month reporting period, Pasadena Unified reduced its energy consumption by an equivalent of 846 metric tons of carbon dioxide, Anderson reported. The impact of that is roughly the same as removing 152 passenger cars from roads for one full year, or the amount of carbon dioxide mitigated by 21,646 trees in a decade. “I like to think of [the reduction] in terms of trees instead of cars, because every time I get on the 110 Freeway, I think 152 of you guys shouldn’t be here,” Anderson joked.
Maryland approves last round of school construction projectsErica L. Green, Baltimore Sun
May 24, 2012
MARYLAND: State officials approved more than $161 million in school construction funding that will allow school systems in the Baltimore area to undertake renovation projects, tackling problems that include sweltering and overcrowded classrooms and dilapidated buildings and amenities.
The Maryland Board of Public Works approved the last round of construction dollars being doled out to schools for fiscal year 2013. The state approved $187.5 million in funding in January, bringing the total amount for school construction projects to nearly $350 million, a more than $85 million increase from fiscal year 2012.
The additional money will fund increased demand from schools to target systemic challenges, state officials said. Collectively, districts requested 40 more projects than they did in the previous year. Those projects specifically address factors that affect learning, including heating and air conditioning.
"Maryland has placed a great amount of emphasis on education, and having first-rate facilities is very important," said David Lever, who oversees school construction for the state. "Those are very effective investments because they extend the life of the facility, and improve comfort and [student productivity]." $25 million out of the $350 million hasn't yet been allocated, he said, but will be targeted toward energy-efficient projects, a growing trend in Maryland schools. Lever said that the state approved funding for 70 percent of the infrastructure upgrade requests.
The basic, but costly, upgrades were a crucial part of Baltimore City's list this year. The system, which has the oldest school facilities, received $16 million more in state construction funds this year, for a total of $42.6 million — among the highest awards in the state. "The money is so plentiful this year that we'll be able to knock out most of our systemic issues in the schools," said Keith Scroggins, chief operating officer for city schools. "It's going to go a long way in improving conditions in the schools. We're going to really be able to make a difference."
Teaching with environmental designRebecca Randall, West Linn Tidings
May 24, 2012
OREGON: Uniquely modern, the new Trillium Creek Primary School honors its surroundings while incorporating green technology and design into its building, always considering what the building itself can teach the students who will walk the halls beginning this September. Before the school year begins this fall, teachers will receive training on the story of the school so that they can pass on the knowledge to their students. A book is also being created to tell the history of the site and explain various features of the construction.
The 20-acre property was purchased by the West Linn-Wilsonville School District from the Erickson family in the 1980s. The land was formerly an orchard and a dairy farm. In 2008, the school district passed a bond that is funding the construction of Trillium Creek, as well as a nearly identical school, Lowrie Primary in Wilsonville. The design maintains some of the wooded natural setting and aims to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver award for the 23-classroom building. Construction should be substantially complete on June 15, said Tony Vandenburg, the project manager hired by the school district.
Mindful of the school’s namesake, the project carved out a footprint for the building by creating new wetlands for the headwaters of Trillium Creek. Subject to rules set by the Oregon Department of State Lands, a wetland biologist determined the depth of the water table and figured out the volume of wetlands the school district needed to create. Workers moved the former Trillium Creek within the property and increased the wetlands area to one acre. “Students will be able to view the wetlands from their classrooms,” said Vandenburg.
Nestled back onto the property, the school is encircled by a 100-year old stand of Douglas Fir trees and other natural plant species. Throughout construction, contractors have been working to remove invasive species and revitalize the area with native plants. Patches of the land were maintained as completely natural spaces, while a finished lawn area closest to the school also provides outdoor space for children. All of this can play a role in students’ education, said Vandenburg.
The building contains a plethora of environmentally friendly features. Within the actual building, the architects worked to incorporate a “demonstration of the flow of water,” said Karina Ruiz, an associate principal architect with Dull Olson Weekes-IBI Group Architects, Inc. The water cycle is intentionally visual for the kids. Water catchment drains, a V-shaped roof, plants and a waterfall installation are all features that direct rainwater to three underground tanks to be filtered before either entering the wetlands or being reused to flush toilets in the building. Solar panels will be installed above the walkway at the front of the school, and the property will also have one wind turbine.
Architects also incorporated the kids’ ideas into the building. During the design process, they visited schools to ask about what they wanted in a school, said Ruiz. “There was a kid that said, ‘I want to be the captain of my own learning,’ and that kind of stuck in our craw,” said Ruiz. A lot of students said that the only spaces that felt like their spaces were the hallways and the bathrooms. To remedy that the architects created “oriels” or bay window seats into each classroom. Additionally, every five classrooms has a “porch” or common space with built-in seating on steps or other crevices that kids can crawl into. The library, which is the central part of the school, has some of its own special kid-friendly spaces meant for reading, including a bird’s nest that is perched in the columns of the room and is accessible by a walkway from the second floor. A twisty slide also makes an entrance from the second floor down into the library. Each floor has its own kitchen with a dumbwaiter between the two. Designed to fit the district’s model for lunch, there is no cafeteria. Instead, students can take their lunch back to their porches or classrooms. The kindergarten wing includes its own kitchen, bathroom and separate entrance leading to the kindergarten play structure. All of the classrooms have their own water fountain and sink. The school will also have a room for a kiln, two outdoor classrooms and a rock wall in the gym.
Use of prototype design will put Baltimore County school on fast trackJon Meoli, Baltimore Sun
May 23, 2012
MARYLAND: The Baltimore County Board of Education reviewed a preliminary site plan for the Mays Chapel Elementary School, and also plans to use a "prototype" school design to expedite the construction process. Officials said use of the prototype design — based on the same design used for Vincent Farms Elementary School in White Marsh — will cut down on engineering and allow the building to be completed in May 2014.
Using an existing design, instead of creating a new one specifically for the site, "saves anywhere from four to five months from the traditional schedule," said Ken Jones, architect for the project. He said a "compressed and accelerated schedule" would allow for site work to begin in the spring of next year while the team finishes up the design of the building, Jones said.
Oregon school districts not taking full advantage of energy efficiency programsSteve Law, Portland Tribune
May 22, 2012
OREGON: Oregon school districts are missing out on taking advantage of subsidy programs that could lower their utility bills and save energy, according to a new state audit. Auditors overseen by the Secretary of State’s office pored through 6,859 measures identified in school energy audits from 2002 to 2010, and found school districts often didn’t implement the most cost-saving recommendations. Often school districts could have taken advantage of Energy Trust of Oregon benefits, or similar ones provided elsewhere in the state, that would reduce the costs of the projects
Auditors estimated that 111 school districts could have collectively saved $40 million in their utility bills and reduced energy use by 70 percent over the lives of the measures.
“I recognize the funding challenges facing districts, and that a school district might choose to replace a boiler so students weren’t faced with cold classrooms, even if that wasn’t the most energy efficient option,” said Secretary of State Kate Brown. “At the end of the day, lower utility bills would mean more money available for the classroom.”
Work to transform Decatur high school buildings under wayValerie Wells, Herald-Review
May 22, 2012
ILLINOIS: More than three years have passed since the first meeting of the High School Task Force at Eisenhower High School in February 2009. Its purpose was to decide what to do about Decatur’s aging public high school buildings and included students, parents, staff and the community. On June 7, the first shovelful of dirt will be turned as the renovations begin. Before that, a lot of other work is being and already has been done.
“It’s kind of a domino effect right now,” said Mike Sotiroff, director of buildings and grounds. “We have some movement in this office space. The book depository will move to the Professional Development Institute, so we can move storage out of the tech academy into our lower level to free up that space for the band room and the choral room for Stephen Decatur (Middle School).” For everything to go smoothly, he said, it all has to work together in a particular order. Stephen Decatur will move to the former Decatur Area Technical Academy on Eldorado and Jackson streets. Eisenhower will move to Stephen Decatur. Furniture and equipment from Eisenhower will move to the tech academy, too, while Eisenhower will use Stephen Decatur’s furnishings, for the most part. Painting and remodeling are under way at the tech academy to get it ready. The Special Education Alternative Placement program will permanently move to Phoenix Academy, and the middle school Life Skills students will move to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, which also required remodeling and the addition of accessible bathrooms with changing tables. “For the past six weeks or so, we’ve already been working on the remodeling of the second floor of the tech academy, making more classroom space,” Sotiroff said. “Currently, Heartland (Technical Academy) is still occupying the first floor of the tech academy, so I can’t do any work there until school is out.”
Most Heartland classes moved to Richland Community College this school year, but some remained downtown and will move to other locations until facilities at Richland are constructed to house them. The child care program will move to the Richland wing of Hope Academy in the fall, for example. The Macon-Piatt Special Education offices will remain where they are. Project manager John Whitlock said he doesn’t expect traffic to be affected along 16th Street during the work on Eisenhower. With school out as of next week, and work confined to the school grounds, the construction shouldn’t cause any inconvenience. “One of the biggest feats we have to pull off is being completely moved out of Eisenhower by the end of June,” Sotiroff said. “We’re trying to minimize the amount of furniture moving if possible.” There is a master plan, he said, and all the affected principals and Superintendent Gloria Davis, along with the buildings and grounds department, have worked together to make that plan as efficient as possible. The entire project, including renovations at MacArthur High School, is expected to be finished by January 2015. Eisenhower students should move back into their completely upgraded building in January 2014, and MacArthur students will move to Stephen Decatur until their building is finished. Eisenhower will be renovated first because it needs the most work, Whitlock said, and in effect, it will be a brand-new school when it’s finished, inside and out. MacArthur will be thoroughly renovated, but more of the existing building will remain because it’s in better shape and needs less work.
Contracts were awarded at the May 8 school board meeting. Nicholas and Associates of Mount Prospect is the general contractor, and the various primary contractors for electrical, mechanical, plumbing, fire protection and technology are all Decatur companies. One issue that arose prior to the awarding of contracts was the question of minority participation goals. The Decatur branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People objected when percentages were not in early drafts of the construction documents. Construction documents all contain standard language and are meant to be edited to suit specific jobs, said Todd Covault, director of business affairs for Decatur schools. The basic documents do not contain language about minority business ownership or minority work force goals because that isn’t always a factor. The documents for the high school renovations have gone through repeated drafts and reviews before being finalized at the end of March for the Eisenhower portion of the project. “All three aspects are in the contract,” Covault said. “We have female business enterprise, minority business enterprise — that’s about (business) ownership. We have the project labor agreement, which is the local union agreement, and we have work force goals in the contract. They’re separate sections of the contract and, each one refers to various exhibits.” The Project Labor Agreement, for example, only creates a relationship between the district and local trades and labor. That portion of the overall document is the district’s agreement to use local union labor and those unions’ agreement to complete the work in a timely fashion with no strikes, stoppages or slowdowns. Once the documents were complete and the goals were spelled out, including goals on specific job categories such as carpenters and plumbers, the NAACP was satisfied. One way the district is ensuring that the highest number of local companies and workers are involved is by splitting the work into smaller chunks and using multiple primary contractors. A single general contractor for the entire almost $80 million project would have to qualify and pay for a bond for that amount, Covault said. That would exclude almost all local contractors. By dividing the work, and thus dividing the bids, more contractors could cover the required bonds. “The board will have contracts with the plumber, the electrician, the mechanical, and with each smaller piece of pie; there’s more potential for locals to be bonded to do the work. So it’s not the general contractor holding the bag, it’s these smaller groups. A lot of thought went into how this was designed.”
Natrona County School District drops last lawsuit against Wyoming School Facilities CommissionElysia Conner, Star-Tribune
May 22, 2012
WYOMING: Natrona County School District trustees voted to end its legal battle over school enhancement funding with the state. “The legal slate is clean,” NCSD Superintendent Joel Dvorak said after the meeting. “We have cleared the deck so we can accelerate the design and construction of the high schools in Natrona County.” The school board voted to withdraw a lawsuit that refuted the SFD’s decision to deny the district’s request for state major maintenance funds to fix the Kelly Walsh High School pool and replace artificial turf at Natrona County High School. The board discussed the legal issue in an executive session prior to Monday’s unanimous vote in a public meeting.
The SFD identified the pool and turf projects as enhancements, meaning beyond what’s needed to deliver curriculum — and therefore not an appropriate use of the state funds. School districts can use up to 10 percent of their annual allocation for projects considered to be enhancements. So far, NCSD has paid for the two projects out of its board priority funds to complete the projects which were finished in 2011, according to Dvorak. The district had a different interpretation of enhancements but chose to drop the lawsuit and accept the School Facilities Commission’s interpretation.
The lawsuit was a barrier to progress on school construction projects because it left questions unanswered about the definition of enhancements that impact the school design process, according to Dvorak. Three projects are planned to renovate NCHS and KWHS and build a new, shared high school that will also house Roosevelt.
Los Gatos school leaders end seismic-related construction stallCorey Johnson, California Watch
May 22, 2012
CALIFORNIA: Los Gatos school trustees have rescinded a contentious decision to close a mountain community's elementary school and halt plans for a new campus over concerns about seismic safety and cost increases.
During a meeting last week, trustees for the Los Gatos Union School District reversed themselves and ordered the district's engineering contractor, Pacific Crest Engineering, to complete the work requested by the California Geological Survey to ensure the seismic safety of a new Lexington Elementary School.
Trustees also voted 5-0 to suspend the transfer of students from existing buildings at Lexington to portable buildings at Fisher Middle School – a decision that was met with loud applause and cheers from about 200 parents and community members present.
Residents were promised school improvements for Lexington Elementary when they voted for school bonds during the 2001 and 2010 elections. Parents gathered about 2,000 signatures in an online petition to keep Lexington open and have been vocal in their displeasure with an April board vote to shutter the school.
"The actions were in the right direction," Los Gatos resident Nancy Moss wrote in an e-mail to California Watch. "But until we get the green light to actual scoop up that first shovel of dirt, it's not over." Last month, school trustees stopped construction at Lexington and approved a plan to close the campus after the state geologist's office found that Pacific Crest didn't adequately account for seismic hazards at the school site.
According to a March 27 letter to the district, state geologists found that Pacific Crest's analysis failed to account for ground moisture in its predictions about land stability, despite test results that showed evidence of water-saturated soil. State geologists also concluded that the engineering report underestimated the severity of earthquake forces at the school. Lexington Elementary has been at its Old Santa Cruz Highway location since the 1950s. The property is vulnerable to landslides and is near the San Andreas Fault, one of the most active in the nation. Pacific Crest's report is based on ground shaking during a 7.3-magnitude earthquake. But state geologists said the school should be designed to withstand an 8.0-magnitude quake, which is what seismic experts recommend for that area:
SC colleges defer $1.1 billion in needed maintenanceAdam Bean, The State
May 21, 2012
SOUTH CAROLINA: South Carolina’s colleges and universities have an estimated $1.1 billion backlog in building maintenance that they have put off, the result of years of state budget cuts and shifting priorities. “It’s been running about that level for some time,” said Gary Glenn, director of finance and facilities for the Commission on Higher Education. “The institutions have been maintaining ... basically the status quo.” But some help — up to $32 million — could be on the way.
However — thanks to the increased ticket sales for the Mega Millions jackpot in April — the state lottery announced earlier this month that it has a surplus of $18 million. The state Senate, which resumes debating its version of the state budget Tuesday, proposes to give most of that money to colleges and universities for building maintenance, increasing the total for maintenance to $32 million, including $4.7 million for the University of South Carolina’s Columbia campus.
Racine Unified School District to spend about $42 million on upgradesLindsay Fiori, Journal Times
May 21, 2012
WISCONSIN: Racine Unified officials plan to spend about $42 million on school building energy-efficiency projects and updated science labs. Money for the projects would initially be borrowed but would eventually come from property taxes. The projects would not increase taxes though, instead maintaining tax levels as other expenses — including a previous referendum — fall off tax bills, district officials said.
With the money, energy-efficiency projects ranging from more efficient lighting to water conservation efforts would be completed at 25 school buildings. Science labs also would be updated at five Unified middle schools. The projects could begin as soon as this summer with all slated for completion by December 2013, district documents show. Projects were identified based on positive learning impacts — like windows that keep students warmer in winter and science labs that allow for more projects and technology use — and the potential for saving money including by eliminating projects from the district’s maintenance list, according to Hazen and Unified documents. The district has estimated that $39 million of the district‘s $90 million deferred maintenance project list would be eliminated through the proposed projects. That savings plus cheaper energy bills should exceed the projects’ total cost, including any interest, in 20 years, if not sooner, Hazen said. He could not provide an exact savings amount because interest rates and amounts are not yet known.
Green schools that go beyond basicsMonika Joshi, USA Today
May 20, 2012
NATIONAL: One Indiana school is not only drilling its students on academics, but it's also drilling holes in its campus to tap geothermal energy. A Vermont college is into burning wood chips as a way to save money. What they share is a passion for environmental sustainability — operating in a way that uses renewable fuels and tries to save money in the process. Interest in sustainability is particularly strong on college campuses.
Princeton Review, in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council, is out this week with its 2012 Guide to 322 Green Colleges and finds in a separate survey that 68% of more than 7,000 college applicants told them that a college's commitment to the environment would play a role in their decision to apply to or attend that school. The guide can be downloaded at princeton-review.com.green-guide or centerforgreenschools.org/greenguide. Further, the number of projects on campuses that have earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, a testament to their environmental attributes, has surpassed the total number of colleges.
"Universities are spending a good amount of time assessing each of their buildings and determining how they're being utilized and which should be prioritized for an energy-efficient upgrade," says Jaime Van Mourik, director of higher education at the Center for Green Schools at the non-profit Green Building Council, which runs the LEED program.
Wake County may reopen former Raleigh schools closed in the 1970sT. Keung Hui-Khui, News Observer
May 20, 2012
NORTH CAROLINA: In the 1960s, nearly every neighborhood in central Raleigh had its own elementary school. But the combination of integration, white flight and population shifts to the suburbs shut down many of these old-time Raleigh schools. Now two of them may be pressed back into duty to help educate the new wave of students moving into the heart of the city.
Wake County school administrators are looking at the feasibility of reactivating the Thompson School and the Crosby-Garfield School, both in Southeast Raleigh near downtown. Both buildings, owned by the county and used for county offices and by community groups, might be returned to the school system and reopened as schools as soon as fall 2013.
“I can’t think of a better use for an old school than what it was originally built for,” said Wake County Manager David Cooke.
Newport school officials to decide whether to renovate or replace buildingsAlex Barber, Bangor Daily News
May 20, 2012
MAINE: Two schools in Newport were selected among six in the state for renovation or replacement. RSU 19 Superintendent William Braun has gotten the ball rolling on what could be a multi-year process, he said. Newport Elementary School and Nokomis Regional High School made the priority list for the Department of Education’s Major Capital Improvement Program. Nokomis is 44 years old while Newport Elementary is near 70 years old, said Braun.
“The question comes down to, do you rehab the structure or do you replace the structure? That’s part of the decision that has to be made at this point,” said Braun. The high school has no sprinkler system, no fire code alarm system and has the original heating system. The roof is also 35 years old, he said. It’s also run out of room. “We don’t have room for all the programs. The ROTC program is housed in the garage out back,” said Braun. He mentioned the high school has 23 modular units that have been added on to the building over the years. “When it was built 44 years ago, we didn’t have a need for technology classrooms or special ed. Once those programs became a structure for a part of education, all of a sudden we began to run out of space.” That’s why building a new high school near the current high school would be the best option, he said. “We own 237 acres up there,” Braun said. “We can maintain the fields we already have instead of building all new fields. That does make the most sense.”
If a new high school is built, what would happen with the old high school? “Some of the discussions have been having a regional, central middle school for grades six through eight,” he said. “Changing to a six through eighth grade — approximately 600 kids could fit in the basic building structure [of the current high school]. We would strip it out and remodel it. The question is, is that a viable use and expenditure for that building?” Having Somerset Valley and Sebasticook Valley middle schools now in one place next to the high school makes financial sense, said Braun. “It would actually reduce some overhead costs,” he said. The two current middle schools are only 10 years old, he said, so it doesn’t make sense to abandon them. A possibility is moving five elementary schools into the two middle school buildings, thus reducing the number of school buildings in the eight-town district from eight to four. “We plow, literally, acres of driveway and parking lots. We cut some 40 acres of grass weekly and in the summer,” said Braun. “If we could cut 20 acres of grass and plow half of that sidewalk, I could save $100,000 a year.”
Dallas Commission wonders whether high school and middle school metal detectors should be removedMatthew Haag, Dallas News
May 17, 2012
TEXAs: Dallas Citizens Budget Review Commission, which began last school year while Dallas ISD was trying to navigate deep budget cuts, has released its final recommendations for the 2012-13 school year. Recommendations include urging the district to improve student attendance and that DISD considers boosting budgets for extracurricular activities. But one recommendation stands out: The commission suggests Dallas ISD consider removing metal detectors in middle schools and high schools.
The commission’s report says that the move could also save Dallas ISD money, because up to four people in each school have to oversee the metal detectors. The report doesn’t say how much the district could save, but recommends that the district’s police department evaluate the cost of having them. The reports states, “Eliminating this practice will also help students to get to classes more quickly and reduce tardiness. Finally, their removal will make the school appear more welcoming and remove the negative external perception concerns that DISD high schools must use them in order to provide a safe environment.” The commission’s chairman, Todd Williams, explained the reasoning to board members last week. He said that schools have many entrances — and many unlocked doors — that would allow for a determined person to bring a weapon to school. Plus, the commission found that neighboring school districts, such as Richardson, DeSoto and Lancaster, don’t use metal detectors on a regular basis. He told trustees that metal detectors were placed in DISD schools in the 1980s, and the practice was never reviewed later on. The commission is not suggesting that DISD consider removing metal detectors from alternative schools. “No one said let’s re-evaluate what we are doing five to 10 years down the road,” Williams said.
Trustee Carla Ranger bristled at the suggestion to remove the metal detectors. She said if Williams and commission members asked school principals about the idea, they would offer a different opinion. Dallas ISD Police Chief Craig Miller declined to offer his opinion about the commission’s recommendation, but said, “The number one goal is the safety and security of the students.” Data from the Texas Education Agency shows that there have been at least 21 incidents in the previous three school years when guns were found in DISD schools. Dallas ISD had at least another 24 incidents of “illegal knives” being confiscated. An illegal knife is defined as a blade longer than 5.5 inches. The data doesn’t indicate whether the weapons were found in secondary schools or with the help of metal detectors.
Joplin Poised to Rebuild Tornado-Damaged SchoolsChristina A. Samuels , Education Week
May 16, 2012
MISSOURI: One year after a tornado devastated Joplin, Missouri, the city is set to rebuild its schools with an eye toward non-traditional design. "Its new schools will feature flexible classroom areas, including spaces where students can work independently or in small groups, called 'think tanks.' And Joplin High School and Franklin Technical High School, once housed in separate buildings, will be brought together in a new facility that will include five 'career academies' where students can follow a college-preparatory academic path as well as take classes that lead directly to the work world."
State-of-the-art sustainable school opens in RichmondD. Fromm, PR Newswire
May 16, 2012
VIRGINIA: A new state-of-the-art sustainable school, Ford Elementary, will be having its grand opening celebration on Saturday, May 19th. Designed to address the whole child, both body and mind, Ford Elementary creates a strong learning environment from a child's point-of-view.
The two-story building, awhirl with bright colors and shapes, was designed by Sally Swanson Architects. Ms. Swanson, founding principal and CEO, explains, "Our goal is to provide a community-based school that is secure, totally green and healthy, and also delightful—relating to the age level of the students and very life-affirming."
A highly collaborative bilingual planning and design process has resulted in joint-use spaces, innovative technology and security systems, and a green and energy-saving campus. The new school was built with the support of the citizens of the West Contra Costa Unified School District, and has received strong support by the WCCUSD Board.
"The school's layout maximizes flexibility, accommodating a variety of diverse teaching methods and programs," explained Carlos Velilla, SSA's Director of Design. The second floor corridor is transformed into a street with light-filled corridors that double as a collaborative in-between space where learning can take place. The design also merges formal classroom spaces with accessible educational play equipment and outdoor programs.
The original school, built in 1949, was an outdated and unsafe learning environment that offered the community few amenities and little sense of ownership. Construction on the new 68,000 square feet school was completed by Alten Construction and overseen by SGI Construction Management. The new school's design references the community culture using an imaginative interpretation of the Mission style with decorative blue and yellow tiles and an outsized arched library window. The cheerful facade signals a school environment that incorporates equal parts fun, creativity and learning. Windows, openings, and building details reduce the large scale to that of a child. The educational program works hand in hand to engage younger minds.
The school's design process included a series of well-attended community workshops. Helping offset the dearth of neighborhood open space, the school includes a community garden, a mini-soccer field, as well as a small plaza with places for adults to sit, meet, and feel at home. The elementary school also provides after-hours joint-use spaces with the community, as well as Adult Education.
Sustainability has been pursued diligently; the building has received one of the highest point ratings from California's Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS). Strategic orientation to create 100% natural light in classroom; maximizing fresh air indoors; green and non-toxic materials; and insulation made from recycled blue jeans are a few of the sustainable highlights. Outdoors, native plants and bioswales add greenery with low water requirements, and are also used as educational components.
Redding School of the Arts Scores Worldwide Achievement for Its Green DesignPress Release, aNewsCafe.com
May 15, 2012
CALIFORNIA: Redding School of the Arts has been awarded LEED® Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized rating system designed to provide owners a path toward “greener” design, building and operations practices. Although there are currently over 12,000 LEED certified projects in 120 countries around the world, Redding School of the Arts is noteworthy for being the first new school campus anywhere to achieve the Platinum rating under the rigorous LEED for Schools 2009 standards.
“Redding School of the Arts’ LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “The urgency of USGBC’s mission has challenged the industry to move faster and reach further than ever before, and this school serves as a prime example of just how much we can accomplish.”
Completed in the Fall of 2011, Redding School of the Arts is a 77,000 square--foot, K--8 public charter school designed by Trilogy Architecture. It was awarded LEED certification for achievements in energy use, lighting applications, water conservation and collection, and building material components, as well as for incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies. The school was funded by the McConnell Foundation and constructed by Gifford Construction.
Lee Salter, President and CEO of The McConnell Foundation, said, “We’re pleased to see Redding School of the Arts and Trilogy Architecture gain this recognition. The Foundation is proud to have funded this project and worked so closely with so many talented and visionary people to achieve our goal of building a sustainable school.”
LEED certification of the school was based on a myriad of green design and construction features that positively impact both the school itself and the broader community. Some of these features include the use of non--toxic paints; the use of more than 25% of building materials with recycled content, and the recycling of almost 85% of construction debris. Water saving devices are expected to save almost 500,000 gallons of water per year. Bicycle and pedestrian walking paths to adjacent neighborhoods, bus service and even electric car recharging stations were all designed to minimize traditional car transportation. With 100 year–old recycled redwood siding, windows into the mechanical spaces and elevator, an exposed steel structure and a building dashboard to show everyone how well the building is actually performing, there is a transparency designed into the school’s inner workings that functions as a story to be absorbed by students, teachers and parents alike.
Trilogy Architecture, the Redding--based firm headed by James Theimer, AIA, previously received several national awards for its design of Redding School of the Arts, including an Honor Award from the National Institute of Building Sciences Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC) and an Award for Design Excellence from the American Institute of Architects.
“The client believes that LEED certification sends a positive message to the students, and to the community, that the environment is an important thing to protect,” remarked Theimer. “With that idea in mind, our mission from the very beginning of the project was to design for the highest standard we could. And Platinum certification tells us we got there.
Critics struggle to end 'pay to play' in school construction bondsWill Evans, Bay Citizen
May 15, 2012
CALIFORNIA: Critics of the practice in which financial firms help pass school bonds that they profit from are continuing to push for reforms, but so far have faced resistance and failure. In California, underwriting companies hired by school districts to sell bonds often make campaign contributions to help convince voters to pass the bond measures. A California Watch investigation found that leading underwriters gave $1.8 million over the last five years to successful bond measures, and in almost every case school districts gave underwriting contracts to those same firms.
Underwriters are essentially middlemen, buying bonds from districts and selling them to investors at a higher price. Underwriters say they generally only give campaign contributions after getting hired; school districts argue the money has no influence. But critics call it a “pay to play” system that potentially costs taxpayers more than a strictly competitive process would.
The California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors has been pushing to end the practice for years. Last year, it sponsored a bill to prohibit financial firms from providing both underwriting and campaign services for bond measures. The bill failed in committee, but its author, Assemblyman Chris Norby, R-Fullerton, vows to bring it back next year and add limits on campaign donations. "It’s a clear conflict of interest. Wall Street brokerage houses are buying local elections," Norby said. "The whole democratic process is being subverted and corrupted." Norby acknowledged his efforts face determined opposition from school districts and some underwriting companies. Similar bills failed in 2010, 2009 and 2008. "You have the public school establishment in an unholy alliance with Wall Street," Norby said. "It’s hard to beat it."
School districts are worried that Norby's legislation would freeze underwriter campaign donations, which are needed to successfully pass bonds, said David Walrath, legislative advocate for the Small School Districts' Association. "We believe this bill, if enacted, would make it less likely that we could pass bonds, which would mean we’d be less able to provide adequate facilities for our students," Walrath said. Walrath said the proposal would especially harm small districts in rural areas, which are less able to raise money for bond campaigns from residents. He also takes issue with the bill for singling out financial firms, while architects, builders and unions also routinely give money to bond campaigns.
"What is it about the service (underwriters) provide that’s so objectionable that they cannot have political free speech rights to assist in a campaign for something they believe in?" Walrath said.
Federal regulators have also expressed concern that restrictions on bond measure contributions wouldn't pass constitutional muster. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld limits on contributions to individual candidates, but not for ballot initiatives.
"It does touch on a person's ability to make constitutional speech," said Ernesto Lanza, deputy executive director and chief legal officer of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board. For years, some financial giants have been pushing the self-regulatory agency to adopt restrictions. In 2008, representatives of Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. urged the board to limit bond measure contributions from financial firms because of "the perception that making such a contribution could cause an underwriter to be selected and to help ensure that the playing field is leveled for all underwriters."
Other underwriters, however, pushed back. School districts and other government entities “are in need of the public policy and campaign expertise of experienced regional investment banking firms," wrote an executive of George K. Baum & Company. The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board ended up requiring disclosure of campaign contributions and is still considering whether more regulations are necessary, Lanza said.
In California, the debate has focused on underwriters that provide election-related services along with their traditional underwriting business. In 2010, for example, Franklin-McKinley School District in San Jose hired George K. Baum to help lay the groundwork for a bond measure campaign and to underwrite the bonds once they passed. The pre-election services included strategic planning, a public information program and a community opinion survey. "George K. Baum & Company offers school districts a turnkey approach to facilities funding," the company advertised in its proposal. "Our school district bond election clients have been overwhelmingly successful." The additional services are supposed to be free. School districts are prohibited from using public funds for bond campaigns. But county treasurers argue that school districts end up paying more under these arrangements. "We feel that these prepackaged campaign and underwriting relationships result in higher fees to the taxpayers," said Jackie Denney, president of the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors. Neither the district nor George K. Baum responded to requests for comment.
But in its proposal to the school district, the company stated, "Our competitors would like you to believe that the District will pay a higher fee for our additional services, but this is patently untrue. The only differences in this regard between our firm and our competitors are our smaller profit margin and our dedication to specialization." Under its contract with the district, George K. Baum stood to make 1.1 percent of the bonds sold. The company gave $8,500 to the campaign for Measure J, a $50 million bond measure on the November 2010 ballot. It also provided $10,000 worth of "Campaign Consulting Services," according to campaign filings. The measure passed with 70 percent of the vote, and George K. Baum has been selling the district's bonds since then.
Historic 1922 elementary school receives Gold LEED distinctionJarreau Freeman, Montgomery Media
May 14, 2012
PENNSYLVANIA: Myers Elementary in Cheltenham Township received the Gold LEED distinction for the environmentally friendly design and function of the school building that was renovated back in 2009. LEED, an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, was designed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2000 as an internationally known symbol of excellence for buildings who aim to achieve high performance in human and environmental health, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency and materials selected for indoor environmental quality, according to the U.S. GBC website.
Myer’s received its distinction for meeting the LEED requirements with environmentally friendly features such as bike ranks, car pool parking perks, motion censored lighting in every room and bathroom, and eco-friendly roofing that reflects light off the roof and back into the atmosphere. Each restroom has low-flow sinks and toilets at a flow rate of 0.5 gallons per flush compared to the standard rate of 2.5 gallons per flush creating 31 percent water use and disposal reduction, said Lorna Rosenberg Myer’s parent, member of the Cheltenham Township Environmental Advisory Council and co-chair of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council. Rosenberg said the low energy light bulbs are used in each room, eco-friendly materials such as paints and flooring for the gymnasium were used and native plants were chosen to landscape the grounds. The building also makes efficient use of natural day light as a result of the windows which have been placed in 90 percent of the rooms in the building.
Also, students, faculty and administrators at Myers are breathing in fresher air because of a special heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system that brings outside air into the building and an air treatment censor that monitors the carbon dioxide levels in the school, Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg said that another interesting feature the Myer’s has is that teachers can use the building as a teaching tool through a dash board that shows the temperature levels in each room and indicates how much energy the building is using. Teachers can reference the dash board in lessons and can encourage students to track the different climate changes that may happen around them on a daily basis.
Myer’s is not just a LEED certified building, but a renovated historic green school. “The most efficient building is the building you don’t build,” Rosenberg said. “When you demolish an existing building, energy is being used and viable materials are being wasted.” Myers has maintained much of its historical charm with a few modern modifications, Rosenberg said. The original 1922 entrance to the building has been restored and functions again as the main entrance to the school. From the outside, the building is a living history book where and students from past and present can see the original structure from the 1922 building, the 1966 building and the additions from the 2009 renovations, which combine to create the new Myer’s“Myer’s has never moved,” Rosenberg said. “It’s still part of the community fabric and it’s still intact. People who graduated 60 years ago can come back and see their school.”
Myer’s student today take great pride in their school’s LEED distinction and are excited to educate anyone on how their environmental friendly school operates. When the newly renovated school reopened its doors in 2009, it was students, known as the Green Ambassadors, who toured commissioners, community members and parents around the building and showed them all the fun features of their environmentally friendly school had, said Sue O’Grady the Director of Communications and Development for the School District of Cheltenham “Having a school like Myer’s has given the students educational improvement because they are living it – [a green lifestyle],” said O’Grady. “They are accustomed to the motion sensors and the low water usage. It’s [knowledge] they can take with them … “The kids are really excited about the school because they have a lot of pride in their school and really see themselves as ambassadors to the community because there’s is the first in the [township] to be a LEED school.”
Myer’s is among 650 schools nationwide who have the prestigious LEED certification. O’Grady said the school district aims to have all the schools in Cheltenham Township to be as environmentally friendly as Myer’s. “The goal is to make every school in Cheltenham meet the standard of energy efficient and environmentally friendliness,” O’Grady said.
Colorado bond companies' role in school construction campaigns raises questionsDavid Olinger, Denver Post
May 14, 2012
COLORADO: When Colorado citizens vote to borrow money to build new schools, a library or a recreation center, the crusader behind the curtain is often the investment banker who gets paid to sell the bonds. For those pushing bond issues in a tough economic climate, help from a bond underwriter can mean the difference between election day success and defeat. But the prevalence of bond house involvement — everything from polling to designing yard signs — also raises concerns from critics who worry they exert undue influence in a campaign. At worst, critics and experts say, governments pay bond companies extra to help pass tax increases, a potential violation of Colorado law.
"It does seem like a backdoor way of using public funds (to finance campaigns)," said Colorado Ethics Watch director Luis Toro. "To say there's no chance of corruption is totally out of touch." The Denver Post analyzed 15 successful Colorado bond campaigns backed by large contributions from investment banks. In every case, the bank that helped finance the campaign sold the bonds. The Post found that individual school districts took as much as $137,500 from a single bond company, and that in six of the 15 campaigns, bond company donations amounted to a majority or nearly half of all contributions.
By comparison, no person can give more than $1,100 to a Colorado gubernatorial candidate, and corporate gifts to state candidates are forbidden. The Post also found that in several cases, a school district paid an unusually high fee for the amount of bonds sold after an investment bank contributed election services to the campaign. That is a potential violation of the state Fair Campaign Practices Act, which forbids government bodies to "expend any moneys from any source, or make any contributions, to urge electors to vote in favor of or against any" local ballot issue.
Maryland Schools to Go Green Under New Eco-Schools USA PartnershipMax Greenberg, NWF Media Center
May 14, 2012
MARYLAND: The Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) and the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program have formed a partnership that will benefit more than 400 schools throughout the state by offering joint resources to make schools and curricula greener, with the intention of growing that number further in the future.
The partnership will link the Maryland Green Schools Program and Eco-Schools USA to encourage schools to go through both awards processes: performing environmental audits; ‘greening’ school buildings and grounds; conserving natural resources; and integrating environmental education into curricula. This new collaboration offers the support and cumulative expertise of two highly regarded organizations with a unique focus on making schools green as well as their most important export—the next generation of American conservationists.
“Change doesn’t happen overnight and it can’t happen unless there are resources that work to get an entire school community involved. This partnership brings together two organizations and their resources in supporting Maryland schools to create a greener learning environment both inside the classroom and out.” said Laura Johnson Collard, Executive Director, MAEOE “Eco Schools USA provides national recognition to schools and the opportunity to broaden perspectives nationally and internationally,” added Maryland Green Schools Coordinator Joanne Schmader.
“Maryland has been at the head of the class when it comes to developing environmental literacy and connecting kids with nature,” said Laura Hickey, Senior Director of Eco-Schools USA. “We’re very pleased to be building on more than 20 Eco-Schools already registered in the state and fostering a true community for green schools.”
A vision for Eugene schools. New plan offers more than bricks and mortarEditorial writer, Register-Guard
May 13, 2012
OREGON: The Eugene School District is in the midst of a decades-long program of school consolidation, replacement and reconstruction that began with voter approval of a $116 million bond issue in 2002 and continued with a $70 million bond last year. The district is gearing up for the next stages of the program, but this time an important element has been given added emphasis. The district intends to focus not just on school buildings, but on what goes on inside them.
Superintendent Sheldon Berman offers a pragmatic rationale for hitching educational goals to the school construction plan. As a practical matter, the only way the Eugene School District can increase its investment in education is through a capital program — property taxes for operating purposes are at their limit, and the district has no control over the level of state support. But Berman thinks the district can build more than just new schools. Berman is relatively new to the district, but he knows that its patrons have long taken pride in having a first-rate system of public education. He also understands that this sense of pride has taken a beating in recent years due to ceaseless budget-related cutbacks. If the district is going to spend a pile of money on new and refurbished schools, Berman thinks it should be done in a way that rekindles people’s feeling that their schools are extraordinary.
The plan aims to correct physical deficiencies and strengthen educational programs in each of the district’s four high school regions: In the Churchill High School region, the Yugin Gakuen Japanese immersion school would move into a remodeled Arts and Technology Academy building, giving the Churchill region its first language immersion school. Churchill, along with some of the schools feeding into it, would gain a new focus on Asian studies and science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
In the North Eugene High School district, Howard and Corridor elementary schools would be consolidated in a new building on the Howard site. River Road/el Camino del Rio dual language immersion school would get a new building. North, the only one of the district’s four high schools to receive a failing grade in an evaluation of buildings’ conditions, would be torn down, rebuilt and given a new focus on international education and the International Baccalaureate degree.
In the South Eugene High School district, Roosevelt Middle School would be replaced, either at its current location or on the Civic Stadium site. If Roosevelt moves to the Civic property, Edison and Camas Ridge elementary schools would be consolidated in a new building at the current Roosevelt site. This would create a kindergarten through 12th grade campus around South Eugene High School. If Roosevelt stays put, the consolidated elementary schools would go into a new building at the Camas Ridge site. The region’s alternative schools would move to a new building at the old Willard School site on 29th Avenue.
The Sheldon High School region would see the fewest changes, mainly because the region’s most urgent needs were addressed in earlier rounds of the school repair and replacement program. City of Eugene libraries might share space with school libraries at Sheldon, Churchill and North. Efficiencies would immediately result for both the city and the school district. Educational, social and cultural benefits would follow.
A significant effect of the plan would be a rebalancing of the district’s four high schools. Churchill and North, with their language programs and respective focuses on science and international studies, could expect to attract students from outside their regions, as South and Sheldon do now. The result would be greater equity and increased choice throughout the district, and all four high schools would be better prepared to thrive in the competitive environment created by a new state law allowing students to enroll in schools outside their home districts. All this adds up to $213 million. The money would be raised by a series of three bond measures, with the first going to voters next year. Much remains uncertain — including the property tax rate needed to support bond repayments and the fate of Civic Stadium. Revisions are likely — past school capital proposals have been greatly altered from their initial forms. But Berman recognizes that a big capital investment should buy the district more than new boilers and plumbing. It can even buy more than 21st century school buildings. The next phase of the school consolidation, replacement and reconstruction project can improve education throughout the district.
School of dreamsDina Mendros, Journal Tribune
May 13, 2012
MAINE: Construction at Biddeford High School is still ongoing, with the Tiger Gym and the cafeteria scheduled to be completed prior to the start of new school year in the fall. But the majority of the renovations are complete, and a celebration of the $34 million dollar project that began in 2010 will take place. Prior to the renovations, “I don’t think I could visualize how beautiful the school was going to look,” said Superintendent of Schools Sarah-Jane Poli. She said she was also pleased to report that the project is currently on schedule and on budget.
Prior to the beginning of the current school year, a new addition was built that includes a new and secure entrance that opens into a bright and spacious lobby. The first floor houses the administration offices and a new library and media center is on the second floor.
On a tour of the school Tuesday, BHS Principal Britton Wolfe showed off the latest round of renovations to the classrooms, the Stephen White Gymnasium and the 330-seat lecture hall. The students in those renovated classrooms Tuesday seemed excited by the changes. “I think it’s making the school look really nice,” said Kristen Haycock, a freshman. “Having a nicer school makes me want to come to school.” Amber Perkins, a junior, has an appreciation of the before and after at BHS, having spent one year in the school before renovations began. “I think it’s a wonderful thing,” she said, ”the new rooms make kids want to work harder.”
Teachers also have nothing but praise for their like-new classrooms. “It’s nice to have a new classroom,” said Terry Schang, who has taught health at BHS for seven years. “There’s a better vibe through the student body and staff to have a new facility.” The new technology that has been installed into the classrooms as part of the renovation is also very helpful, she said. The interactive Eno boards allow her to hook her computer to the board to show movies and use it as large screen when surfing the Internet. Also, when she writes notes on the board, they are saved so students can easily access them.
Gorden Cutten, who has been teaching science at BHS for 39 years, has only been in his newly renovated classroom for two weeks. Since there’s only five weeks left in the school year, he said “I’m really looking forward to next fall.” “The way we’ll do experiments in the labs will be totally different,” said Cutten. Before, there was little counter and cabinet space and “no room to do big experiments,” he said. Now, he said, there’s plenty of room. In addition, there are new safety features for all the science classrooms, like showers and eyewash stations in each room and a new air exchange system throughout the department.
School nurse Peggy Blood said she likes her new space, which includes a clinic, a private room and a combination office and waiting room. “It’s a dream,” she said. “I have privacy and space where I can see what’s going on.” She added that this year no students have come to her reporting illness because of the air quality. “Everything is done so first class,” said Brian Curit, who has taught Social Studies at the school for 25 years. “Aesthetically, it’s just so pleasing. “It’s been a long time in coming,” he said. “I’m hoping they take care of it for many years to come.”
When the public approved a $34 million bond to pay for the project, it was because school officials said renovations to BHS were necessary due to disrepair, failure to meet current building and fire codes, and the need for new technology in the classrooms. Another reason changes were required was because of findings by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, known as NEASC. The association had placed BHS on a warning list both for academic reasons and because of problems with the school building. In light of the academic changes that have already been made, and once the renovations are completed, the school will be taken off the warning list, said Wolfe. Then the school has 18 months to complete a self-study for NEASC. “We want to knock their socks off,” said Wolfe. “We want this report to reflect the great progress we’ve made at Biddeford High School.” Now that the renovations are nearly complete, Wolfe said, “You feel both more supported and a greater sense of pride being in a school that exudes commitment on the part of the community. “The people of Biddeford should really be proud,” he said.
Marysville Getchell campus wins high marks for designAmy Daybert, Herald Net
May 12, 2012
WASHINGTON: The Marysville Getchell High School campus started attracting attention years before students walked into their classes for the first time. The 40-acre campus set back in a second-growth forest opened in September 2010 but began receiving recognition for its architectural and educational design as early as 2007. It has since earned a total of 13 awards.
The campus, designed by DLR Group in Seattle, has won awards on both state and national levels. Almost all of the entries were submitted by DLR Group. "It's amazing how much attention this school has gotten," said Todd Ferking, a project manager with DLR Group. "No one would have necessarily expected it out of little old Marysville. We've taken many national clients through the school."
The latest award for the school was given in late April by Learning By Design, a guide that showcases the top education design projects throughout the country. The campus is featured as one of three grand prize winners from a total of 54 contest entries. The other grand prize winners for spring 2012 included the NAC Architecture for Machias Elementary School in Snohomish and a school in Houston, Texas.
The school's four small learning communities are each contained in their own buildings. They are the Academy of Construction and Engineering, the Bio-Med Academy, the International School of Communications, and the School for the Entrepreneur. A shared building, known as the Charger Outlet, offers a dining area with stage, a gym and a fitness center with an indoor track. An outdoor track, multiple sports fields and tennis courts are also shared by all students at Marysville Getchell. The Marysville School District had one main high school, Marysville Pilchuck, and three smaller alternative schools before Marysville Getchell opened.
The new school cost $94.4 million to design and build. The price tag was less than the $99.2 million overall cost of the new Lynnwood High School, which opened in September 2009, and more than the $87.3 million Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish that opened in September 2008. Groups from throughout the country have visited Marysville Getchell to learn about its construction and educational design. More than 30 tours of the campus have been given since it opened, Bingham said. A future tour set for October is with educators from England, Germany and Australia, Bingham added.
"We've had other district school boards, administrators, and community members come in that are thinking about doing something similar," he said. "We learned from folks before we started and now it's time for us to share with people some of the success we've had." That success includes students embracing the educational layout of the campus and the energy efficiency of building operations. The Marysville School District has received incentive grants from utility districts for building beyond the energy code at Marysville Getchell, Bingham said.
Schools eye construction finance optionsHillary Gavan, Beloit Daily News
May 11, 2012
WISCONSIN: The School District of Beloit is applying for a bridge loan of $10 million to pursue preliminary referendum projects. The district plans to issue the $70 million of referendum debt after exploring the possibility of issuing Q-bonds, which could have zero to low interest rates. The $10 million in bond anticipation note funds would keep referendum projects rolling until Jan. 1, when the Q-bonds may be obtained.
“We don’t have enough operating funds to cover $10 million in expenses without seeking a bond anticipation note,” said Executive Director of Business Services Janelle Marotz.
Marotz said Q-bonds could potentially save taxpayers millions of dollars over the 20 years of the referendum debt. Possible options may include Qualified Academy Zone Bonds, Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds or Qualified School Construction Bonds. The Q-bonds were created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The bonds can be issued to finance expenditures relating to public school facilities at nominal interest rates, according to the IRS.
School’s recycling team means that it’s easy being greenKitson Jazynka, Washington Post
May 11, 2012
MARYLAND: At 2:30 in the afternoon at Great Seneca Creek Elementary School, a loud rumbling takes over the hallway. An earthquake? No. A herd of elephants? No. It’s three members of the school’s Green Team pushing a rumbly blue bin down the upstairs hallway. Another three-kid Green Team squad works the first floor of the Germantown school. Their mission? Collecting discarded paper from every classroom and office for recycling.
Made up of about 30 students in third through fifth grade, the Green Team recycles and teaches others about helping the Earth’s environment. Recently, they made special light-switch covers to remind teachers to turn off the lights when they leave the room. For Earth Day, they held a trash pickup on the school grounds.
For the past six years, Great Seneca Creek has been recognized as a LEED school by the U.S. Green Building Council. “LEED” stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Great Seneca is one of 61 schools in Maryland, Virginia and Washington that have been recognized for having a building that focuses on energy conservation and being friendly to the environment.
That focus is obvious throughout the school. In the main lobby, a mural shows the Earth’s water cycle, from clouds on the ceiling to tiles in the floor representing the stream that the school is named after. Students often take tests on laptops to conserve paper. In the restrooms, they use waterless urinals (no flushing required), dual-flush toilets (which use less water for liquid waste) and motion-activated sinks to save water and learn about water conservation. Students learn about energy conservation in classrooms that have large windows to allow in natural light and sloped ceilings that help save electricity.
“With so many reminders in our building, it becomes a part of students’ lives to make everyday choices that are good for the environment,” Principal Greg Edmundson says.
Solar arrays on schools give Burlington clean energy, revenuePress Release, VTDigger
May 11, 2012
VERMONT: Executives from Encore Redevelopment were joined by Mayor Miro Weinberger and other city officials at Burlington High School to launch an exciting solar project that will produce clean, renewable energy at two local schools, and will provide an estimated $300,000 in direct economic benefit to the city of Burlington. This project, located at Burlington High School and C.P. Smith Elementary School, is the largest roof-mounted solar panel array in the state of Vermont, and will produce a total of 228kW of locally generated energy. The next project, at the Hunt Middle School, is on schedule to be commissioned by October 2012.
This project was made possible by an innovative public-private partnership between the Burlington Electric Department and Encore Redevelopment, who will own, operate and maintain the displays, and who co-developed the project with initial project developer New Generation Partners. The partnership featured a creative power-purchase agreement (PPA) that allowed for financial viability while providing the municipal utility with protection against spot market pricing volatility during periods of peak demand. Additional benefits to the City of Burlington will be derived through lease payments made to the Burlington School District from revenues generated by the arrays. A total of over $300,000 of direct economic benefit to the city of Burlington is predicted over the 20-year contract period, and the project will produce enough solar electricity in the first five years of operation to pay for itself. The Burlington schools solar project is the first in an ongoing package of solar arrays.
Students at both schools will benefit from a state-of-the-art PV Monitoring system provided by Draker of Burlington. This data acquisition system will monitor system performance, optimize efficiency, and maximize PV yield. Advanced analytical tools and key performance indicators will provide in-depth production data that will allow for real-time data analysis of the energy generated by the solar arrays and promote the development of clean energy curriculum in the classrooms.
Creative financing structures were critical to this project, with the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA), the Vermont Community Loan Fund (VCLF) and the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund’s Renewable Energy Resource Center all contributing to the success of the project. The arrays were installed by groSolar of White River Junction, Vermont. Collaboration with the Burlington Electric Department was instrumental in the success of the project, as the partnership provided additional sources of clean, distributed generation capacity within BED’s distribution system.
The City of Burlington School Department also benefits from new sources of clean, renewable energy on otherwise unused school roofs. The combined economic and educational benefits of the project provide a model example for other school districts throughout the state of Vermont, as the Draker PV Monitoring system will enable new hands-on learning opportunities in the classroom. Terry Bailey, Director of Operations for the Burlington Schools, stated that, “Having these installations at the schools, provides an important message to the public and the students that our community is preparing for the future with renewable energy. The monitoring systems make available a direct, purposeful learning experience for the students and teachers.”
Amid budget politics, Arizona school buildings crumbleKellie Mejdrich, Green Valley News
May 10, 2012
ARIZONA: When an old school bus breaks down, Higley Unified School District sent a truck to push the bus out of the road. Then their truck broke down, too. That’s the least of Arizona schools’ problems. Districts like Kyrene School District are facing the summer’s scorching heat with coolers that could break down at any moment, which could send kids home to their parents so emergency repairs can be made.
Higley’s situation mirrors the larger problem of funding for school facilities in Arizona: not only are schools breaking down, but there’s no way to fix the problem. After budget talks about overhauling school building maintenance flopped, the legislature has continued to cut off funding to regular school repairs in violation of the state Constitution and a previous court order.
Since 2008, districts have been digging into classroom dollars to fix the schools and will continue to do so, officials say. “My goodness in the rural areas it’s a lot worse. You have roofs that are cracking,” said Tony Malaj, executive director for community programs and policy for Higley Unified School District. In 1998, the state Supreme Court first demanded buildings be adequately maintained to provide a “general and uniform” public school system as required by the constitution, in a decision commonly referred to as “Students First.”
So the state established a system through a new agency, the School Facilities Board, to fund school repairs, and appropriated $2 billion to fix the schools. The legislature was supposed to appropriate money yearly to maintain school buildings. Previously, schools had used local bond elections to maintain their facilities, but since some areas like rural districts with low property values had little bonding capacity, the court ruled that was unfair. So bonding was restricted, money was given to the board, and schools were supposed to maintain their facilities that way.
Budget crises left the “building renewal” fund empty for the past four years though, which was supposed to provide money for routine repairs. Schools have had to turn to their now-limited bonding abilities, and hope for more money next year—through appropriation or a court order, district leaders said.
But legislators have moved sluggishly, if at all, toward preventing legal trouble, said Sen. Rich Crandall, R-Mesa, who introduced a bill to at least increase the bonding capacity of school districts, which basically allows them to borrow money from their local taxpayers. With that bill dead, little money is left to adequately repair all the state’s schools, some of which could be in varying states of dilapidation since 2008.
Northwest College board begins planning for new buildingIlene Olson, Powell Tribune
May 10, 2012
WYOMING: Northwest College was approved for $9.38 million of state funding this year to help build a new classroom building to give the college more space and address other needs. The question now is how to pay the remaining $4.9 million for the planned $14.25 million structure. The NWC Board of Trustees began considering how to provide that $4.9 million local match at its meeting last month.
NWC President Paul Prestwich encouraged the board to provide some of the money from reserves. He noted that, in its original proposal to the Wyoming Community College Commission and the Legislature, Northwest College said it would pay a local match of $1.5 million of the building’s cost. That later was raised to $4.9 million by the new 6-mill local match requirement. “It’s still important for us to use that amount from our reserves, because we had already planned to do that,” Prestwich said. “I think if we do end up going to the voters for a possible mill levy or a general obligation bond, I think we need to show that we’re willing to put money from our reserves, a sizable chunk, (toward the cost).” However, Prestwich stressed it’s ultimately a decision for the board.
Sheldon Flom, NWC finance director, outlined different options that could be available to the board to raise and/or pay the local match money. By holding expenses down, the college could afford payments of as much as $400,000 per year without going to the voters, Flom said. In addition, the college could impose a $5 student facility fee on all credits taken at the college. That would raise approximately $245,000 per year to help pay for the building, Flom said. Some options would require voters to approve a bond issue; some would not. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, Flom said.
Those options are: • A mill levy on property taxes. “With a mill levy, we say we need 1.5 mills, and it generates what it generates, whatever that is,” Flom explained. “It’s not a guaranteed amount. If levies go up, we get more money; if they go down, we will have to make that up out of reserves.” • A general obligation bond. • A revenue bond, pledging income from the college’s auxiliary funds. “We say, our auxiliaries generate $300,000 per year, and we’re pledging all that to pay for this bond,” Flom said. • A lease revenue bond, pledging revenue from all of the college. “We’re pledging the revenue of all the college to pay off this bond. We would have a bigger revenue base, which brings down the interest rate.” • A traditional loan. “A loan is a wild card,” Flom said. “It’s not as secure as a bond.” Interest rates also will be higher; the longer the loan period, the higher the interest rate, he said. However, with a loan, you don’t have other expenses that come with a bond, he said. For instance, a bond reserve fund is required with a bond issue. It is held by a trustee in case of default and to make up interest rates and payments as they fluctuate. In one short-term scenario, the required fund would be in the neighborhood of $300,000. Interest and other expenses would add another estimated $121,000 and $85,000, respectively, bringing the total cost to about $500,000. For a 15-year lease revenue bond, interest would be 3.4 percent, totaling about $1.5 million, plus $100,000 in revenue expenses, and the reserve fund would be higher as well, Flom said. “With a traditional loan, you have a higher interest rate, but you avoid all the bonding expenses.” For a 13-year term, a traditional loan is estimated to cost about $1.3 million. By making bigger payments for 10 years, that is reduced to $790,000.
Mark Kitchen, NWC vice president for public relations, said the Wyoming Constitution requires the college to go up for a public vote under some of those scenarios. “In a nutshell, it says that, except for taxes for the given year, a political subdivision cannot incur debt into the future except that which you seek public approval to do,” he said. “The one exception to that is the revenue bond and the lease revenue bond system.” Kitchen told the board he has contacted the office of U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis to inquire whether federal funds are available to help pay the local match money. Flom noted the college already had been asked by Gov. Matt Mead to determine how it could cut 4 percent from its fiscal year 2014 budget. “That 4 percent would be about $400,000,” he said. Since then, the governor has increased that directive to planning for an 8 percent funding cut. Prestwich said, “It’s not hard to imagine a scenario out there where, if we had to fund this ourselves ... and we took a cut from the state, that the combination of that payment plus a cut could have really significant effects on our budget. We could be in a a situation where we’re having to lay off faculty and staff and significantly cut down on our services ... You start to combine those, and you could be in a really tough situation.” Board members discussed the possibility of taking the matter to voters for approval of a bond issue. Trustee Rick LaPlante said it’s important to inform voters completely and honestly. “The whole West Park thing, ‘We don’t have the money,’ — ‘Oh, look we found the money,’ was a fiasco,” he said. Prestwich said it also is important that voters know the college must come up with the money somehow to leverage the state funding for the building. There won’t be another chance, he said.
Philadelphia's Mayor Nutter Announces Green 2015 Pilot Program to Green School YardsStaff writer, City of Philadelphia
May 10, 2012
PENNSYLVANIA: n a major step forward for the “greening” of public spaces in Philadelphia, Mayor Michael A. Nutter formally announced today that the City and a national conservation group will partner with the School District to green as many as 10 school yards and recreation centers starting this spring.
The new groundbreaking initiative marks the second phase of the City’s innovative Green 2015 Action Plan. It was announced at the William Dick Elementary School, which will partner with the adjacent Hank Gathers Recreation Center in North Philadelphia on a pilot project to significantly expand green space for public use. In addition to the School District, Green2015 partners include the Philadelphia Water Department, the Department of Parks and Recreation, national conservation non-profit The Trust for Public Land and the Mural Arts Program.
“This is an exciting collaboration for the City of Philadelphia,” said Mayor Nutter. “Working with our partners, we will be able to green places where our children play. Making Philadelphia the greenest city in America involves infrastructure changes and creating healthy, sustainable spaces. However, it is also about educating our children about the environment so that they are prepared to care for it in the future. I am confident these improved school yards and recreation centers will do all of the above.”
The partnership will initially focus on redesigning and redeveloping the William Dick Elementary Schoolyard, Hank Gathers Recreation Center and Collazo Park, with additional recreation centers and schoolyards to be announced in the coming months based on the success of the pilot. One major advantage of the partnership is that it allows the City and the School District to pool limited public resources to focus on areas where public schools and City recreation centers are located close to each other.
The partnership also leverages federally-mandated stormwater management funds, committed state funding through the Pennsylvania Department of Conversation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and private philanthropy raised by The Trust for Public Land from the William Penn Foundation, MetLife Foundation, National Recreation Foundation, and others. The TPS Foundation is also providing support to incorporate public art at various sites as part of the overall initiative.
The William Penn Foundation was one of the original supporters of the planning and public engagement effort to draft the Green2015 Action Plan and is now providing significant resources for the pilot project. “This program represents a triple bottom line for Philadelphia. It cuts down on paved surfaces, which helps to keep heavy rains from washing pollutants into our water supply,” said Janet Haas, M.D., the Board Chair of the William Penn Foundation. “It repurposes existing city property, putting assets we already own to better use. And it brings communities together in attractive public spaces around their schools and recreation centers. In a time of economic scarcity, that level of impact is no small feat.”
When fully implemented, the project envisions the greening of 10 school playgrounds and City recreation centers at a total cost of $9 million, about two-thirds of which would be met through combination of State, City, and School District sources. The Trust for Public Land is leading the effort to raise private funds to leverage public funding from the City and School District, and will also be establishing a stewardship fund to assist local organizations with maintenance and programming for each site.
For 24 New York City Schools Getting New Start, 24 New NamesAnna M. Phillips, New York Times
May 10, 2012
NEW YORK: For nearly 50 years, the large school building on Avenue X in Gravesend, Brooklyn, has been known as John Dewey High School, after the man who has been called “the father of progressive education.” The name is on the building and the sign out front. It is what you hear on the school’s answering machine. That era is coming to an end.
Next year the Dewey name will be attached to a location, not an institution, as the high school and 23 other public schools are renamed, as part of the city’s Education Department strategy to qualify for nearly $60 million in federal grants to help the so-called struggling schools get fresh starts. Instead of borrowing their names from distinguished historical figures like Dewey and William Cullen Bryant, many of the schools will incorporate words like “opportunity” and “academy” into their titles.
The name changes are a requirement of a city plan to replace about half of the teaching staff and bestow new titles on the 24 schools, some of which are among the oldest educational institutions in the city.
The list includes many of the words and phrases that have become popular in school names over the last decade, as principals pay more attention to marketing and try to brand their schools with words like academy (now used at 208 schools), community (50 schools) and technology (40 schools). At least one of them — the Bronx Middle School of Academic and Career Technology — combines so many of these popular words that it almost requires an explanatory footnote. But there are exceptions. At Flushing High School in Queens, the principal decided to rename the school after Rupert B. Thomas, a member of the city’s Board of Education in the early 20th century who pushed for the city to build a new high school in Flushing. City officials said they gave the schools the leeway to reinvent themselves. “We did not prescribe a formula,” said Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg. “We empowered principals to figure this out, and I think in every instance they’ve done a good job of that.” Some principals put out comment boxes, others asked students to weigh in.
UNC-Chapel Hill Opens the Doors of New Koury Oral Health Sciences BuildingStaff writer, Press Release
May 09, 2012
NORTH CAROLINA: Committed to enhancing the quality of dental education, research, patient care, and service within the state of North Carolina, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill formally dedicated its newest facility, the Koury Oral Health Sciences Building, after a four-year construction process. This addition will enable the UNC School of Dentistry to eventually expand D.D.S. class enrollment size and respond to 21st century opportunities, discoveries, and advancements in the field.
Designed by Flad Architects, the new Koury Oral Health Sciences Building realizes the university’s vision. “We want to see Carolina remain at the top of dental education, and this building will allow us to use innovation to its best advantage in the new educational methodology,” said Dr. Janet Guthmiller, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
The 216,000-square-foot building was envisioned as a dynamic, functional, and inspiring environment – one capable of recruiting top-tier students and faculty and increasing the school’s visibility within the national dental community. Having experienced significant growth since its opening in 1950, a collection of five interconnected buildings had emerged over the years. Each one answered the program’s specific needs at the time, but after five decades, several renovations, and rapidly advancing technology, a new solution was necessary to provide the modern classrooms and cutting-edge research laboratories crucial to the school’s continued excellence.
The facility is composed of two wings occupying the corner of South Columbia Street and Manning Drive at the southern edge of campus. Its precise placement among the existing dental buildings links the old and new construction, unifying the complex and fostering a sense of community. The Dental Commons, a soaring sky-lit atrium on the first floor, serves as the complex’s major social center, housing a café for mid-day breaks and ample tiered seating to easily accommodate assemblies and events.
“One of our goals from the beginning was to create a social hub for the school, its patients, and its visitors to enjoy,” said Chuck Mummert, design architect at Flad. “By recovering the underutilized courtyards and alleyways between existing buildings, we were able to incorporate this light-filled Dental Commons area as a space not only connecting the buildings, but the people who use them as well.” Other key features of the project include: A signature 220-seat grand lecture hall in the West Lobby complete with video conferencing and distance-learning technology. Two 120-seat lecture halls, one capable of two-way distance learning. A 105-seat simulation laboratory giving students the opportunity to learn and develop their clinical skills before providing care to patients. Five 30-seat seminar rooms for graduate seminars and small group discussions, one equipped for distance learning via live lecture broadcasts over the Web or through direct audiovisual feed. Laboratories characterized by movable casework allowing different arrangements as the research changes and centralized, shared support rooms for fume hoods and equipment. Office and conference spaces.
The facility employs a variety of new technologies that support resource conservation and enhanced building performance. Its design is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and is on track to receive Silver certification. A series of ‘firsts’ for the campus are part of the project, including the first building to capture and use condensate water from the mechanical equipment and the first building on campus to employ fluid dynamic modeling and use smoke curtains to design the smoke evacuation system.
Solar Farm Generating Power at Lawrenceville SchoolChrysti Neuman, LawrencevillePatch
May 08, 2012
NEW JERSEY: Lawrenceville School flipped on the metaphorical switch to its new 6.1 megawatt solar farm during a dedication ceremony. The solar array, construction of which began in September 2011 and was completed in March, is expected to have a positive impact on the school, both environmentally and economically. "The solar farm is part of the Green Campus Initiative which involves everything from energy to lawn maintenance to water usage. Then there's a strong economic incentive as well," said Sam Kosoff, the private school’s director of sustainability. "The school will wind up saving $400,000 a year, but if energy prices escalate, it will be more."
The nearly 25,000 solar panels, located on about 30 acres, are expected to generate 90 percent of the energy needs of the school off Route 206. The solar array is owned and will be maintained by KDC Solar TLS, based in Bedminster, N.J. For leasing out the 30 acres to KDC, Lawrenceville School will receive a low, fixed rate for electricity produced on the site for the next 20 years.
“During the day, the array can produce nearly twice the amount of energy needed by the school. The excess will be exported to Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) and credited to the school. The school will draw the excess energy and all other required energy from PSE&G after sundown,” according to a news release issued by the school. The 6.1 megawatt DC array is expected to generate about 9,264,000 kilowatt hours of solar electricity per year, offsetting nearly 6,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually – the equivalent of taking more than 1,200 cars off the road.
A “single axis tracker system” will allow the panels to adjust position to follow the sun as it moves throughout the day.
The array will also offers an educational opportunity to the students, who can access the current output and usage of the solar farm through real-time monitoring information provided by KDC. "Students can study the design of the panels and how they work," said Kosoff. "We're still piecing together all the different teaching opportunities." In keeping with the land's previous agricultural use, 1,600 pounds of wildflower seeds were planted among and around the solar panels.
California District May Scrap Plans to Build School on Fault LineCorey Johnson, The Bay Citizen
May 08, 2012
CALIFORNIA: A Los Gatos school district's decision to halt construction of a new elementary school over state geologists' safety concerns has inflamed a local mountain community and highlighted the difficulty of building schools in seismically vulnerable areas.
Los Gatos Union School District officials will meet with the California Geological Survey this week to discuss whether plans for a new Lexington Elementary School can be salvaged. Last month, school trustees voted to halt building plans after the state geologist's office found a district engineering report didn't adequately account for seismic hazards at the school site.
Trustees also approved a plan to vacate the existing buildings at Lexington and transfer students to portable buildings at Fisher Elementary School — a decision that outraged some 300 people at the April board meeting and sparked a flood of parent complaints. According to a March 27 letter to the district, state geologists found that Pacific Crest Engineering's analysis of Lexington Elementary failed to account for ground moisture in its predictions about land stability, despite test results that showed evidence of water-saturated soil.
State geologists also concluded the engineering report underestimated the severity of earthquake forces present at the school. Lexington Elementary has been at its Old Santa Cruz Highway location since the 1950s. The property is vulnerable to landslides and is near the San Andreas Fault, one of the most active in the nation. Pacific Crest Engineering's report is based on ground shaking during a 7.3-magnitude earthquake. But state geologists wrote that the school should be designed to withstand a 8.0-magnitude quake, which is what seismic experts recommend for that area. The issue highlights the thorny complexities that can surface in striving to build schools that are seismically safe. State geologists say private geologists and engineers often make errors assessing hazards.
Med School building is first at University of California Riverside to achieve LEED Gold CertificationAndie Lam, Riverside Highlander
May 08, 2012
CALIFORNIA: The UC Riverside School of Medicine Research Building (SOMRB) has been awarded the prestigious LEED Gold Certification, the second highest honor given by the United States Green Building Council. Reaching milestones in energy efficiency, the SOMRB holds the distinction of being the first building on campus to be LEED certified.
Designed by SRG Partnerships Inc., the three-story tall building is 58,000 square feet of biomedical and research facilities. The SOMRB was designed to minimize its environmental impact and to conserve energy and water consumption while providing an optimal space for its occupants.
In an interview with the Highlander, UC Riverside’s LEED analyst Weston Lewis stated, “The reason why LEED certification is so important is that it provides credibility to our commitment for providing a sustainably built environment for our campus. LEED creates high performance buildings that are not only sustainable but safe, functional, aesthetic, and cost effective. UCR demonstrates its commitment to the triple bottom line approach of equally valuing the environment, society and economics”
The LEED certification program evaluates buildings based on the criteria of sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. The LEED scale consists of four levels of certification beginning at Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
Campus Architect Don Caskey and Sustainability Coordinator John Cook noted that although the goal was originally to achieve LEED Silver certification, their pursuit of maximizing sustainability features led to the Gold rating.“We went back in and found points that hadn’t been applied for, such as restoring habitat, maximize open space, alternative transportation parking [and] heat island effect,” stated Cook in an article by UCR Today.
According to Lewis, SOMRB implements several key environmental strategies; notable features include a cool roof, landscaping with drought-tolerant plants, highly efficient irrigation for 78 percent outdoor water reduction and appliances that rely on 45 percent less indoor water usage. Aside from design choices, the technology used in the building is also highly innovative and energy efficient.
Up to 23 percent of total energy usage is reduced through nighttime cooling fans, computer controlled blinds and LED lighting. In the areas of resource management, SOMRB diverted more than 90 percent of construction waste away from landfill disposal while 89 percent of the building’s wood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
The green-oriented approach was a particularly difficult achievement since research lab facilities generally use about 5 to 6 times more energy per square foot than other types of facilities. “To have our School of Medicine Research Building achieve the LEED Gold rating is a tremendous accomplishment because it is challenging especially to design and construct a laboratory building with the sustainability features necessary for this prestigious certification,” stated G. Richard Olds, the dean of UC Riverside’s medical school, in an article by UCR Today.
CornellNYC Chooses Its ArchitectRobin Pogrebin, New York Times
May 08, 2012
NEW YORK: After a competition that included some of the world’s most prominent architects, Thom Mayne of the firm Morphosis has been selected to design the first academic building for Cornell University’s high-tech graduate school campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City.
“The goal here is to develop a one-of-a-kind institution,” Mr. Mayne said in an interview at his New York office. (Morphosis also has an office in Los Angeles.) “It’s got to start from rethinking — innovating — an environment.”
The building will get extra attention as the first part of an engineering and applied-science campus charged by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg with spurring New York City’s high-tech sector. It needs to embody the latest in environmental advances and to incorporate the increasingly social nature of learning today by creating ample spaces for people to interact. And to succeed, Mr. Mayne said, it must visually connect to the rest of the city, because its setting is surrounded by water.
Mr. Mayne’s building is part of a campus that will be developed over two decades. The campus will comprise more than two million square feet of building space at a cost of over $2 billion and will serve more than 2,000 students. It will include three academic buildings; three residential buildings; three buildings for research and development; and a hotel and conference center.
In December Cornell, in partnership with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, won the yearlong competition to build the campus, beating teams that included one from Stanford University and City College of New York.
The master plan is being designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which was among the six finalists for the Cornell campus. The others were Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Diller Scofidio & Renfro, Steven Holl Architects and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.
Mr. Mayne’s 150,000-square-foot building is expected to cost about $150 million, Mr. Huttenlocher said, which will be covered by a $350 million gift through an alumnus. The city is providing $100 million in infrastructure improvements, as well as the land on Roosevelt Island, currently occupied by a little-used hospital. The new building will include classrooms, laboratories, offices and meeting space.
Researcher Designs Schoolyard for Children with AutismStaff writer, Kansas City InfoZone
May 07, 2012
MISSOURI: Chelsey King, master's student in landscape architecture, St. Peters, Mo., is working with Katie Kingery-Page, assistant professor of landscape architecture, to envision a place where elementary school children with autism could feel comfortable and included. "My main goal was to provide different opportunities for children with autism to be able to interact in their environment without being segregated from the rest of the school," King said. "I didn't want that separation to occur."
The schoolyard can be an inviting place for children with autism, King said, if it provides several aspects: clear boundaries, a variety of activities and activity level spaces, places where the child can go when overstimulated, opportunities for a variety of sensory input without being overwhelming and a variety of ways to foster communication between peers. "The biggest issue with traditional schoolyards is that they are completely open but also busy and crowded in specific areas," King said. "This can be too overstimulating for a person with autism."
King researched ways that she could create an environment where children with autism would be able to interact with their surroundings and their peers, but where they could also get away from overstimulation until they felt more comfortable and could re-enter the activities. "Through this research, I was able to determine that therapies and activities geared toward sensory stimulation, cognitive development, communication skills, and fine and gross motor skills -- which traditionally occur in a classroom setting -- could be integrated into the schoolyard," King said.
King designed her schoolyard with both traditional aspects -- such as a central play area -- and additional elements that would appeal to children with autism, including: A music garden where children can play with outdoor musical instruments to help with sensory aspects. An edible garden/greenhouse that allows hands-on interaction with nature and opportunities for horticulture therapy. A sensory playground, which uses different panels to help children build tolerances to difference sensory stimulation. A butterfly garden to encourage nature-oriented learning in a quiet place. Variety of alcoves, which provide children with a place to get away when they feel overwhelmed and want to regain control.
King created different signs and pictures boards around these schoolyard elements, so that it was easier for children and teachers to communicate about activities. She also designed a series of small hills around the central play areas so that children with autism could have a place to escape and watch the action around them. "It is important to make the children feel included in the schoolyard without being overwhelmed," King said. "It helps if they have a place -- such as a hill or an alcove -- where they can step away from it and then rejoin the activity when they are ready.
King and Kingery-Page see the benefits of this type of schoolyard as an enriching learning environment for all children because it involves building sensory experience and communication. “Most children spend seven to nine hours per weekday in school settings," Kingery-Page said. "Designing schoolyards that are educational, richly experiential, with potentially restorative nature contact for children should be a community concern."
The researchers collaborated with Jessica Wilkinson, a special education teacher who works with children with autism. King designed her schoolyard around Amanda Arnold Elementary School, which is the Manhattan school district's magnet school for children with autism. "Although there are no current plans to construct the schoolyard, designing for a real school allowed Chelsey to test principles synthesized from literature against the actual needs of an educational facility," Kingery-Page said. "Chelsey's interaction with the school autism coordinator and school principal has grounded her research in the daily challenges of elementary education for students with autism."
Ohio colleges pour millions into constructionMeagan Pant, Middletown Journal
May 07, 2012
OHIO: More than $461 million will be invested in new buildings and major renovations on college campuses in the region in the coming years, bringing businesses to the area and signaling the continued growth of the higher education industry locally.
“Companies go where there is talent. By us ensuring that we have strong talent coming out of our higher education facilities, we are locking in one of those economic development tools that we need to attract and retain businesses,” said Chris Kershner, a local expert on public policy and economic development. With a mix of public funding, private donations, institutions’ resources and public-private partnerships, local colleges and universities are engaged in multimillion-dollar projects creating all types of jobs from architects to skilled labor, said Sean Creighton, executive director of the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education.
After two years of no funding from the state for capital improvements, Ohio has dedicated $400 million to infrastructure of its 37 public colleges and universities. The work is important in meeting the demands of increasing enrollment and attracting new students, educators say.
Independent Schools Continue to Invest in Renewables as an EndowmentAmy Bowman , Renewable Energy World
May 04, 2012
CONNECTICUT: RGS Energy, the commercial division of Real Goods Solar, is completing the final phases of a solar array at the new Kohler Environmental Center for Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, CT. Designed to meet the annual electrical needs of the building, the array will be operational later this spring.
“This system will give students and the public a great opportunity to see solar energy production and understand the impact that it can have on our daily lives,” said Carter Wilding-White, Vice President of Commercial Operations and Director of Engineering for RGS Energy. A 1997 graduate of the school, Mr. Wilding-White is particularly excited about exposing students to renewable energy, “Choate is providing its students the resources to go beyond the classroom and experience first-hand the applications of technology and science.”
RGS Energy and Shawmut Construction, the Construction Manager for the Kohler Environmental Center, designed a system that met the needs of the building and the school. “RGS worked collaboratively with Shawmut to optimize the array to achieve the energy production of a Net Zero Energy project within the budget and site constraints,” said Mike Kearns of Shawmut Construction.
The project consists of just over 1,000 ground-mounted solar panels , covering over an acre adjacent to the new environmental center, and will include a data monitoring system that will enable students to observe the production of the system, and compare that to the amount of electricity the building is using. The intention of the solar project is to off-set the annual electrical needs of the building.
Chicago Public Schools cuts back capital spending in difficult fiscal climateNoreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Chicago Tribune
May 04, 2012
ILLINOIS: Faced with a nearly $700 million budget deficit, Chicago Public Schools has proposed a capital spending budget for the coming fiscal year of $110 million, a sharp drop from this year's $660 million. The district plans to focus on essential repairs to school buildings, playgrounds to accommodate the longer school day that kicks in citywide next September, and technology for schools participating in the new specialized Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum.
A large chunk of the capital budget, $39.9 million, would come from the new Chicago Infrastructure Trust. That money would be spent on high-efficiency lighting and other energy-saving efforts that are part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Retrofit Chicago initiative.
CPS plans to spend $3.6 million to build or replace up to 15 playgrounds. This year, 39 schools got new playgrounds. Right now, 98 elementary and middle schools don't have outdoor playgrounds. About $4.5 million will go toward installing technology at schools that are part of the STEM program: Michelle Clark, Corliss and Lake View high schools. Districtwide, more than $13 million in information technology upgrades are also planned, including a new Google Apps system that will put students and staff on a single email system. "This year's capital budget reflects our commitment to investing in infrastructure projects that address the critical and immediate needs facing schools as well as student learning," schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizardsaid in a news release, acknowledging the "difficult fiscal climate."
The district's five-year capital plan calls for spending to be further reduced the following year, to just under $100 million, before going up to a little more than $200 million in each of the next three years. For now, the district is trying to tackle only the most critical repairs. A total of $5 million will go toward fixing 10 aging chimneys. District officials are assessing chimney conditions at 225 schools, trying to determine which ones are in dire need of repairs. Oriole Park Elementary School on the Northwest Side, where parents and staff complained at a recent board meeting about leaky roofs, will get $2.5 million for renovations. Another $2 million will be spent on roof work, landscaping and parking lot improvements at Higgins Academy on the South Side.
St. Louis Public Schools looks to reopen buildings to absorb students from closed charter schoolsElisa Crouch, St. Louis Post Dispatch
May 04, 2012
MISSOURI: For decades, St. Louis Public Schools has closed dozens of school buildings as thousands of students left the district for suburban and charter schools. Now the district will reverse that pattern. Up to six schools could open this fall to absorb up to 3,800 children now attending the Imagine charter schools slated to close next month. Superintendent Kelvin Adams told the district's Special Administrative Board Thursday that the number of additional schools needed this August will be determined by demand, and the extent of that demand may not be fully realized until later this summer. "We have been working with the former Imagine board members — the local board members — to talk about the ideas you see here and to work with them on a strategy on acclimating the students into our schools," Adams said.
Already, nearly 800 Imagine students have enrolled in the St. Louis school system since April 17, when the Missouri Board of Education voted to close all six of the Imagine charter schools for academic failure. Of those students, about 580 have enrolled in magnet or choice schools. However, the district began accepting large numbers of transfers from the Imagine schools in January, when about 350 Imagine students enrolled in city schools after an announcement came that two of the Imagine schools would close.
School district officials have been working for months on plans to address the potential enrollment boom the district could experience if even half the students attending Imagine were to transfer to city public schools this fall. Charter schools are public schools that operate independently of school districts and have been draining the St. Louis system of students for more than a decade. The district's transportation department has been meeting weekly about how many extra buses and routes might be needed. Adams expects to hire up to 218 certified teachers and up to six new principals. Though an influx of students is one that district officials say they've wanted for years, it could put the district in a bind if too many students wait until the last minute to enroll. "We're talking there again about costs to this school district," said Richard Gaines, a member of the Special Administrative Board.
Most of the buildings that may reopen are already being used by the district for alternative programs that could be moved elsewhere — such as the Fresh Start program to help dropouts earn high school diplomas in the Meda P. Washington building on South Vandeventer Avenue. That building could become an elementary school for 300 children. The program would move to Beaumont High School, which would also accommodate other alternative education programs that may need to relocate. Madison school on South Seventh Street also could reopen as an elementary school; Dunbar/Columbia in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood could be consolidated into one elementary school; Stevens on North Whittier Street could become a middle school, and the building holding Northwest High School on Riverview Drive could share space with a second high school that would replace Imagine College Prep Academy. "We're hearing the high school really wants to stay together," Adams said. "The camaraderie, the culture have been built." The only vacant building that would reopen is the Stowe school on Lotus Avenue. Making the repairs needed to reopen the building would cost the district an estimated $1.1 million.
Price tag slows reconstruction of Alice Harte Charter School in Algiers, LouisianaMark Waller, The Times-Picayune
May 03, 2012
LOUISIANA: An initial round of bids that came in over budget has slowed progress toward constructing a new campus for Alice Harte Charter School in Algiers. Adjusting the designs and seeking lower bids will add about six months to the process, officials said, positioning Harte to return from a temporary site to a permanent setting midway through the 2014-15 school year.
Officials allocated $23.5 million for construction of the 112,000-square-foot building, which will be financed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as part of the post-Hurricane Katrina reconstruction of schools throughout New Orleans. The first attempt at gathering bids from contractors, however, yielded seven estimates ranging from $27 million to $29.5 million, said Stan Smith, chief financial officer for the Orleans Parish School Board.
Smith said the Orleans board rejected the bids and decided to revisit the drawings looking for savings. Spending more than planned would mean less federal money for school projects that fall later on the rebuilding list, he said. "The architects had to do a substantial amount of redesign and value engineering," Smith said. Instead of cutting any major features, he said, they scoured the project looking for streamlined building methods. Architects trimmed cosmetic touches and called for less expensive construction materials, such as different types of steel in the structure and different materials to make canopies over entrances.
Smith said officials are looking to the recently completed Edward Hynes Charter School in Lakeview as a model. Hynes is similar in size and rebuilding it cost about $196 per square foot, which is $45 lower than the first set of bids for Harte. "That sort of really set the standard for us," Smith said about Hynes. "It's a really good school at a really good cost for us." New designs could be finished this month. Re-bidding could take place in June. Officials would open the bids in July. If all goes smoothly, construction could begin soon after and wrap up in December 2014.
Campus Conservation Competition Results in Students Saving 1.74 Gigawatt-Hours of ElectricityStaff writer, Ecowatch
May 02, 2012
NATIONAL: The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), through its USGBC Students Program and in partnership with Lucid, Alliance to Save Energy and the National Wildlife Federation, is pleased to announce the results of the 2012 Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN) competition. This year, nearly a quarter-million students at 100 colleges and universities across the U.S. collectively saved 1,739,046 kilowatt-hours of energy, equivalent to 2.6 million lbs of CO2 and $157,925 in savings—effectively removing 151 U.S. homes off the grid for a year. This year’s results surpassed the original competition savings goal of one gigawatt-hour of electricity. Students also saved 1,554,814 gallons of water, equivalent to 10,300 shower hours.
From Feb. 6 through April 23, 2012, students competed to achieve the greatest reductions in their residence halls over a three-week period, with savings from each campus contributing to a collective national challenge goal. Students organized peers through direct action in their residence halls, and extensively utilized social media to motivate and encourage sustainable behaviors, proving that occupants play a critical role in greening their buildings. By making commitments to turn off unused electronics, take shorter showers, use the stairs instead of the elevator, and other simple tactics, students across the country demonstrated how individual actions make a difference in the way our buildings consume electricity and water. “When you see a mobilization this large to actively reduce energy consumption and promote sustainability, it’s clear that students are tired of waiting around for decision makers to address the issues at hand,” said Pat Lane, USGBC Students program lead at the Center for Green Schools. “The individuals we work with through USGBC Students are eager to put in the hard work it takes to see real change set in. The 1.74 gigawatts saved is just the beginning, as our students work to leave lasting sustainable legacies on their campuses and take those experiences into the job market.”
Participating schools used Lucid’s Building Dashboard to compare performance, share winning strategies and track standings among the leading schools and buildings. With generous support from United Technologies Corp., founding sponsor of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC, and Sloan, CCN gave students and staff an opportunity to organize and make immediate and lasting impacts on a school’s carbon emissions and campus culture. Additionally, CCN awarded 2,000 renewable energy credits from Sterling Planet, a VirtuWatt energy platform from Constellation Energy, a certificate from Carbonfund.org recognizing their campus’ contribution to offsetting 2.6 million pounds of CO2, and a free Building Dashboard from Lucid.
“During Campus Conservation Nationals 2012, hundreds of thousands of students took action to reduce electricity and water consumption in their buildings,” said Andrew deCoriolis, director of engagement at Lucid. “The success of CCN demonstrates the tremendous collective impact that individual actions can have for reducing resource consumption and fostering a broader culture of conservation on campuses.”
Sandy Spring Friends School to Use Sun for SavingsKeira Shein, EON
May 02, 2012
MARYLAND: Sandy Spring Friends School, a pre-K through 12 coed college preparatory Quaker school in Montgomery County, has announced plans to install more than 2,000 solar panels on the school’s 140-acre campus.
The 473.7 kW solar photovoltaic system will be ground-mounted and grid tied with an estimated output of 600,790 kWh. The estimated carbon offset of a system this size is 414 metric tons which is equal to almost 82 passenger vehicles per year and 963 barrels of oil consumed.
The project, expected to begin in June, is being developed by the Pennsylvania energy solutions provider, UGI Performance Solutions. Maryland-based Standard Solar, Inc, a leader in the development and installation of solar electric systems for commercial, government and residential customers, will design and install the project. The system will be owned by UGI Energy Services, with whom the school has entered into a power purchase agreement (PPA). The PPA will enable the school to use the electricity generated by the system for a fixed cost, lowering their utility bills.
“The SSFS community is delighted to work with Standard Solar and UGI to install one of the largest solar projects in Montgomery County on our beautiful 140 acre campus,” said Tom Gibian, Head of School. “Solar power, in its simplicity and efficiency, and as a substitute to purchasing electricity generated from the burning conventional fossil fuels, will become part of our curriculum (science, technology and entrepreneurism), will save us money and reflects our intention to practice good stewardship of our natural resources.”
The solar installation is the latest step in the school’s commitment to sustainability. As a Friends school that emphasizes the Quaker values of service, the peaceful resolution of conflict, integrity, simplicity, equality, and stewardship of the environment, SSFS has long demonstrated its commitment to sustainability in many areas of its operation, from education and curriculum planning to land use, recycling and composting programs. When it comes to environmental sustainability, SSFS’s longstanding commitment shines particularly bright. Projects such as the new community garden on campus and the solar panels will provide both food and clean, renewable power to the school, as well as learning opportunities for the students and community.
State cuts force Pasadena schools to scale back projectsJoe Piasecki, Pasadena Sun
May 02, 2012
CALIFORNIA: Vastly reduced state funding for school construction projects is forcing Pasadena education officials to downsize plans for the $350-million Measure TT bond. When Pasadena, Altadena and Sierra Madre voters approved Measure TT in 2008, officials drew up plans for $465 million in school renovation projects based on eligibility for state bond proceeds and other matching funds. But due to the state budget crisis, much of that money has dried up — reducing the total bond budget to about $371.3 million, said Pasadena Unified School District Chief Facilities Officer David Azcárraga. That’s a 20% drop. The impact will be spread out relatively evenly over the district’s 31 schools, said Bond Program Manager Robin Brown.
Azcárraga and Brown said they are meeting with campus leaders to determine which renovations are most important and which they can live without. Downscaled proposals are expected to reach Pasadena Board of Education members in June or July for final approval. “It’s challenging, but we have to make sure we can finish what we say we’re going to do,” said board member Tom Selinske. Officials said auditorium, playground and lunch shelter improvements are more likely to feel the pinch than upgrades that would impact academics and safety. “We’re going to try to keep the cuts as far away from the classroom as possible,” said Azcárraga. “It’s important for the community to understand that the initial $350 million [in locally generated funds] is still intact. Our budget is still beyond that $350 million.” The district has so far committed about $100 million to projects that have broken ground or are already finished, the largest being the rebuilt Blair Middle School campus. While completed work has come in at or under prescribed budgets, several projects have been pushed back months or more awaiting approval from the State Division of Architect, the agency that oversees school construction.
Several sources of funds once expected to supplement Measure TT proceeds have disappeared or dwindled during the state’s financial crisis. Statewide bond money controlled by the state Office of Public School Construction has all but run out, with new projects being put on a waiting list for funds that may never arrive. Pasadena schools had also planned on $13 million in deferred maintenance funds that were completely wiped out by state budget cuts, and $25 million in school facility modernization grants that were shaved to $10.2 million, according to a statement by the district. Funding generated by the 2004 Williams Settlement — an agreement reached after a lawsuit alleged that low-income public school students throughout the state had unequal access to proper facilities and supplies — dwindled from $15 million for Pasadena-area schools to just $1.8 million. Local-government fees paid by developers to benefit school renovations have also fallen short with a slowdown in local construction. The school district had budgeted for $20 million in fee revenue the past four years, but has only received about $4 million, according to the statement.
Cincinnati Public Schools takes out $26.8M loan for green renovationsJessica Brown, Cincinnati.com
May 01, 2012
OHIO: Cincinnati Public Schools board of education approved taking out a $26.8 million low-interest loan for energy-saving renovations at 28 schools. About $5.5 million of the money will be spent renovating the old Hyde Park school which will re-open next year as a neighborhood school with a district-wide gifted program. The re-opening has been long-lobbied for by a group of Hyde Park residents. They collected hundreds of signatures from neighbors saying they’d send their kids there if the district re-opened it.
The money will pay to replace energy-sucking lights, centralize thermostat control and install motion sensors so lights turn off when no one is in the room. The renovations will also include air conditioning for those buildings that don’t have it and other improvements that will make them more comparable to new or already-renovated buildings. District officials have estimated the renovations will cut energy costs up to 25 percent in each building and that the projects will pay for themselves in energy savings over the 22-year life of the loan.
“The improvements will generate savings above and beyond what those buildings are already saving,” said Mike Burson, who heads CPS’ district-wide rebuilding plan.
Cincinnati Public is in the tail end of a $1.2 billion overhaul of its entire aging building stock. One goal is to make each new or renovated building energy-efficient. Many sport green roofs, geothermal heating and cooling systems, rain gardens and other such features, some of which double as learning tools for the students. Energy Conservation Program, or House Bill 264 program (named for the law that created the financing mechanism), allows school districts to get low-interest federal loans for projects that reduce energy use. More than 500 Ohio school districts have applied for loans including most of the districts in Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties.
The financing mechanism approved by CPS involves a complex lease system that allows the district to get the loan without going above the debt limit allowed under state law. Supporters of the program say it is a good way to get low-cost loans for projects that will help the district save money in energy costs and make those schools better learning environments for the students.
CEFPI Applauds 2012 School of the Future Design Competition WinnersPress Release, CEFPI
May 01, 2012
NATIONAL: Six teams of middle school students met in Washington, DC this week to compete in the final leg of The School of the Future Design Competition, centerpiece of the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) School Building Week. The competition challenges students from across the globe to think creatively as they plan and design tomorrow’s green schools to enhance learning, be healthy, conserve resources, be environmentally responsive and engage the surrounding community.
Sponsored by CEFPI and the National Association of Realtors in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the American Institute of Architects, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and more than 20 other associations and private companies, the annual competition strengthens public awareness of the importance of well-planned, healthy, sustainable school buildings that enhance student and teacher performance and contribute to community culture and vitality.
The Awards of Excellence went to Imago Dei Middle School, Tucson, AZ and Teeland Middle School, Wasilla, AK. Capturing the Award of Distinction was Highfield Humanities College, Blackpool, Lancashire, UK. Newtown Middle School, Newtown, CT, Seneca Middle School, Macomb, MI and University Middle School, Waco, TX received Awards of Merit.
Imago Dei and Teeland Middle Schools each received $2,000 as Award of Excellence winners. Imago Dei students acknowledged that they were fortunate to receive a good education and caring teachers so they designed a school for the children of Niger in West Africa who did not have the same opportunities. They constructed their school from local, sustainable resources creating "polybricks" assembled from plastic water bottles and using bamboo walls to repel malaria-carrying mosquitoes prevalent throughout the area. Powered by solar energy, the building also makes great use of natural light and employs shade sails of woven bamboo to offer some relief from the extreme heat. The students’ research efforts were impeccable, leading then to also design a portable school made out of the same materials to bring to communities where children cannot travel to the main school.
The Teeland Middle School team chose to build their facility on a landfill – truly embracing "renew, reuse, recycle" by creating walls made of materials mined from the landfill and covering them with solar wallpaper. The cement building is constructed with carbon nanotubes, one of the strongest materials available synthesized from carbon-rich compounds such as plastic, which act as rebar. The green roofs collect storm water and provide insulation. Again exemplifying "renew, reuse, recycle", one of the three “aerodynamic” school buildings constructed to withstand the strong Alaskan winds houses the homeless, providing them with educational opportunities, an introduction to careers, use of all the community facilities and three meals a day. Food for the facility and community was grown on campus.
Award of Distinction winner, Highfield Humanities College, UK, well-represented the International middle schools, receiving $1,500. Coming from a seaside resort community in northwest England, the students designed a building constructed inside a sand dune on the waterfront that would serve as a space for all learners. Hard hit by the current economy, the team hoped that their unique school would encourage tourism and add to the local economy. The front of the building is constructed of glass that can withstand the pressure of the waves, allowing students to observe underwater sea life when high-tide covers the building. The building is powered by renewable energies including wind and wave power. Dormitory space in the rear of the building can accommodate students as well as community members and tourists.
Capturing the Award of Merit, Newtown, Seneca and University Middle Schools each received $1,000. The Newtown Middle School campus housed all the district schools and encompassed two community gardens, a rooftop and an orchard. The traditional buildings were in keeping with their community heritage, and focusing on academic excellence for all types of learners. The students included solar panels and geothermal heating and cooling in their plans. Realizing that students need lots of exercise and the ability to move around, they incorporated “aerobic ball” seating in the classrooms.
The Seneca team demonstrated a clear understanding smart growth and how a school can positively impact a community. They chose to repurpose the old Henry Ford factory site, a community icon, and economically stabilize a very challenged community. Low cost housing was provided on the campus for families with school age children, bringing the neighborhood to the school, offering employment on the campus and 24-hour use of the facilities. Harkening to the old Ford days, each class level "house" was named after a famous Ford car.
Hailing from Waco, TX, the University Middle School design team placed the main body of the school underground. University Middle School is located on a major highway presenting a danger to children as well as creating an extremely noisy classroom environment. By placing the gym and performing arts on the side of the building facing the highway the interior classrooms were shielded from blaring sounds. Administrative offices and community space occupied the above ground floor, serving as further protection from intruders. The students felt very connected to their community and although the school site was less than desirable, they did not want to disrupt their strong community ties. Their thoughtful and well executed design included an atrium and light wells to provide daylight to the "underground" school, white roofs and geothermal heating and cooling providing constant temperatures at relatively low cost.
Portland, Oregon School Board Considers Ten-Year Facilities PlanRob Manning, OPB News
May 01, 2012
OREGON: A draft facilities plan for the Portland school district suggests spending anywhere from half a billion to more than one billion dollars on buildings over the next ten years. A committee of more than 30 people began work on the Long Range Facilities Plan after voters rejected a half-billion dollar capital bond for Portland Public Schools, last year. The draft plan responds to three goals: that schools be safe, that they provide good learning environments, and that they’re optimally used.
One version of the plan would address the district’s worst problems as quickly as possible. Its ten-year cost is over one billion dollars. Another option would “balance” improvements across grade schools and high schools. It would cost $883 million over ten years. A so-called “conservative” approach would anticipate closing some schools, and phasing in improvements more slowly. It has the smallest price tag at $576 million. There’s also a $780 million option that would assume some school closures and target seismic needs.
The school board is scheduled to discuss the plan at three meetings this month.
Arizona school-bond bill stalled in Senate. Districts: Without OK, we can't fund repairsAllie Seligman, The Republican
May 01, 2012
ARIZONA: A bill stuck in the state Senate Rules Committee for nearly two months has 21 school districts across Arizona worried they won't be able to repair their buildings or build new schools in coming years. The districts have been waiting for House Bill 2405 to pass and increase their bonding capacity until 2016. Currently, the districts can't sell voter-approved bonds because property values have dropped dramatically over the past few years. Nearly $300 million in bond money is currently inaccessible.
"For now, it isn't going forward because it's going to double the taxes on all the people in all those districts," said Sen. Steve Pierce, Senate president and chairman of the Senate Rules Committee. "I don't believe people want to double their taxes."
Kyrene Chief Financial Officer Jeremy Calles said it's highly unlikely tax rates would double in any district. "Nobody would do that to our taxpayers," he said. "We're more conscientious about our communities than that."br>
Any rate changes are based not on how many bonds a district sells but the pace at which it repays debt. Kyrene would stagger payments in such a way that the tax rate would hold steady, Calles said. If anything, the tax rate in any of the 21 districts could go up if they wanted to pay off their existing debt more quickly in order to sell new bonds for the needs they're now facing, Calles said. "Their actions would actually end up driving up the tax rate," Calles said of the legislators' stall.
Currently, districts can sell bonds up to a certain percentage of their secondary assessed valuation. If a district is not unified with a K-12 system, like Kyrene, its total bond debt cannot exceed 5 percent of secondary assessed valuation. Unified districts can sell up to 10 percent. House Bill 2405 revises a bill signed into law last year that raised that percentage.