NCEF News summarizes and provides links to news stories about educational facilities nationwide. Links to older articles may no longer be active.
Scottsdale district's solar savings hit $300,000 yearlyMary Beth Faller, The Republic
June 29, 2012
ARIZONA: The Scottsdale Unified School District has seen its energy efficiency significantly increase over the last two years because of equipment upgrades and increased use of solar energy. Scottsdale was among the first school districts in the state to put solar panels on campus roofs, in 2009 at Coronado High School and the Desert Mountain High School/Mountainside Middle School campus. Since then, panels have been installed at Chaparral, Arcadia and Saguaro high schools, and Copper Ridge School. This summer, panels are being added to Desert Canyon Middle School. Salt River Project recently donated a small rooftop array to Tavan Elementary School, and that 13.2-kilowatt project just went online last month. The rooftop projects are done on a solar-power-purchase agreement, in which a third party, SolarCity, installs and maintains the panels, collecting incentive subsidies from the government. The district buys the power from SolarCity at a set rate, protecting the district from rate fluctuations imposed by utilities.
According to an energy-performance report presented to the governing board recently, the district is saving anywhere from 11 percent, at Arcadia, to 32 percent, at Saguaro, on each kilowatt hour, compared with the average cost charged by the utility. Superintendent David Peterson said the district is saving about $300,000 a year with the solar projects. The district estimates the total solar output of the projects, 7.1 million kilowatt hours, is equal to eliminating the emissions of 926 vehicles for a year.
Besides solar, the district has added conventional energy upgrades as well, including new high-tech chillers, better lighting and sophisticated energy systems that can detect when a room is empty. The changes were made through performance contracting, in which the cost of the improvements is paid for with the savings from the increased efficiency. Scottsdale is paying about $547,000 a year for the new equipment and at several campuses, which have resulted in average savings and avoided costs of about $612,000. The net annual gain is about $65,000, according to a report presented recently to the governing board.
Energy-management systems at several schools, which are like sophisticated thermostats. "At Desert Mountain High School, for example, we used to turn the boilers on and let them run all day," he said. "Now, the energy-management system will turn the boilers off when the weather is mild, so they're not generating heat all day. It cuts back on the run times." That has led to natural gas savings of more than $20,000 in the past two school years. The systems also control the air-conditioning, sensing whether a classroom is occupied and boosting the temperature to about 79 degrees if it's empty, and then lowering it to about 76 degrees when occupied, he said. New lighting controls with motion detectors can shut the lights when a room is empty. Those were installed at several campuses.
All of these improvements have reduced total energy consumption by about 3.5 million kilowatt hours, according to the energy report. Governing board member Eric Meyer, also a member of the state House of Representatives, said the energy projects are saving money from the operating budget that can be spent on teachers and programs. "Down at the Legislature, they're always saying 'you guys aren't doing anything,' but this is an example of how, without using any taxpayer dollars, we are implementing programs that will save our schools millions of dollars."
California Announces $637.6 Million for Shovel-Ready School Construction ProjectPress Release, Market Watch
June 28, 2012
CALIFORNIA: The State Allocation Board (SAB) announced that it has awarded approximately $637.6 million for shovel-ready school construction projects across the state. The state matching funds will help finance 198 school construction projects within 96 school districts. Funds for these projects are provided by bonds authorized under Propositions 1A, 1D, 47 and 55.
"Today's apportionments will be put to work statewide to fund 61 new construction projects, 97 modernization projects, and 40 projects from additional programs," said SAB Chair Pedro Reyes. "These funds will be distributed within 90 days to quickly benefit school districts and local communities."
The SAB's accelerated funding rules permit participating school districts with approved projects to submit advance certifications that they will meet requirements for fund release within 90 days of receiving an apportionment. These requirements include having local matching funds, usually 50 percent of the total project cost, in hand, and at least half of the construction contracts in place. School districts in financial hardship are also able to compete for priority-ordered funding to purchase sites or begin design work. Prior to the approval of the accelerated Priorities in School Construction Funding rules in 2010, apportionments were granted based on the receipt and approval dates of complete funding applications, or on a first in, first out basis. Each approved project had up to 18 months to request release of the State funds.
The SAB also took action today to apportion an additional $4.6 million for three Joint-Use facilities projects; these funds are anticipated to be released by December 27, 2013. The Joint-Use Program allows school districts to utilize a joint-use partner and State funding to build a joint-use project the district would not otherwise be able to build due to lack of financial resources. Funds for these projects are also provided by bonds authorized under Propositions 1A, 1D, 47 and 55.
The SAB is responsible for determining the allocation of voter-approved school construction bonds, as well as the administration of the School Facility Program, the Emergency Repair Program and the Deferred Maintenance Program. The SAB is the policy level body for programs administered by the Office of Public School Construction, which provides the staff and support for state financing of school facilities.
Report finds $2.45 billion in Baltimore school building upgrades. Fifty schools should be closed or rebuilt, study saysErica L. Green, Baltimore Sun
June 27, 2012
MARYLAND: Fifty Baltimore schools are so dilapidated or underused that they should be closed or rebuilt, according to a new report that also identified $2.45 billion in school infrastructure needs across the city. The findings, released Tuesday, were used by school officials to launch a 10-year campaign to bring the system's buildings up to 21st-century standards.
The exhaustive, yearlong assessment of the system's 182 campuses rated the system's overall infrastructure — as well as 69 percent of the schools — as "very poor." The assessment, which included a review of everything from roofs to handrails, also found that more than a third of the school system's available space was going unused — though it costs millions to maintain. Overall, the report found, the system's infrastructure fails to support quality educational programs.
City schools CEO Andrés Alonso released the results of the study at Northwood Elementary School, which was built in 1950 and is one of the schools in the worst condition.
The "Jacobs Report" — named for the Jacobs Project Management Co. — will serve as a guide for several critical decisions regarding school life spans. Those decisions will begin to unfold this week, as school officials begin a series of meetings with affected neighborhoods. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined Alonso in calling on state and local leaders to use the report as a blueprint for transforming the district's buildings.
Alonso said that while the report paints a "bleak picture" of city facilities, it details the barriers to providing a quality education. "It severely impacts teaching and learning," he said, "making it a moral undertaking rather than a practical one."
The city schools facilities campaign started in 2010, when a study from the American Civil Liberties Union showed a $2.8 billion need. Later, a citywide campaign called "Transform Baltimore" grew to encompass more than 50 organizations. This spring, Alonso asked state lawmakers to commit to paying the city $32 million annually for a financing plan that would have allowed him to borrow $1.2 billion in bonds — four times more than the city's current borrowing authority — to rebuild the system in 10 years. That would have addressed some of the school system's needs. The proposal was championed by the ACLU and others but was rejected by state lawmakers who felt that the plan wasn't fully fleshed out, relied heavily on debt, and at the time, appeared to vary from a plan being backed by the mayor. Now, armed with the most exhaustive inventory of schools in recent history, Alonso is preparing to go back before the General Assembly in 2013 to pitch the plan again.
Rawlings-Blake said that while she was a proud public school parent, she "continued to be embarrassed by the conditions of our schools." She also used the platform to sign into law a controversial bottle tax, the only new revenue stream to emerge to help pay for school construction. It is expected to generate nearly $10 million annually, and allow the system to float up to $300 million in bonds. The report and the new law "represent a philosophy of what it takes to address decades of underfunding, neglect, and avoidance of hard decisions," Rawlings-Blake said.
Joplin school board authorizes sale of $62 million district bondsKelsey Ryan, Joplin Globe
June 26, 2012
MISSOURI: The Joplin Board of Education authorized the sale of $62 million in bonds to help pay for the rebuilding of the schools destroyed in the 2011 tornado. The board heard from Gregory Bricker, executive vice president at George K. Baum & Co., the underwriter on the district’s bonds. In April, voters passed the bond issue to go toward $185 million in rebuilding projects. Bricker said the first bond sale will be conducted in the latter part of July.
The district will offer $35 million of the bonds in July and will release the remaining $27 million in the spring in time for payments on the new construction. Paul Barr, the district’s chief financial officer, said that by selling the bonds in two segments, the district will save on interest.
Bricker said the district’s bond issue is one of the largest in the state this year, and his company will be working with local brokers to make up to 10 percent of the total bonds available for local investors. In the sale of $57 million in bonds for middle school construction projects in 2007, Bricker said, local investors accounted for about $2.5 million in purchases.
Baltimore Mayor Signs Bottle Tax To Fund School ConstructionStaff writer, CBS
June 26, 2012
MARYLAND: A new report says Baltimore City schools need $2.5 billion in repairs. It also calls for many schools to rebuild or shut down.Part of the money will come from the bottle tax, which the mayor signed in to law Tuesday. The mayor along with school officials, hope changes in state legislation will bring in the rest of the money.
Tiny desks, rusted lockers, poor ceilings and busted locks–these are just some of the issues plaguing Baltimore City schools like Northwood Elementary. “What does that say to my students about their worth?” said Yasmene Mumby, who taught three years in Baltimore City and knows firsthand how a poor infrastructure can affect learning. “Here I am going into a system where I think I’m going to affect change instructionally but then I realize here in a building physically it’s compromised,” Mumby said. Mumby is just one of many who supports the mayor decision to sign the bottle tax into law.
The tax will raise the cost of bottled beverages and in return fund school construction project,s totaling $2.5 billion.
Some argue even with the tax, it’s not enough. “Let’s be real. We can’t keep buildings that are 38 percent utilized. It’s not common sense. We’re paying full funding to keep the buildings open. We’re not serving anyone’s children by doing something like that,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Baltimore City schools received an “F” from the Jacobs Report, a district-wide condition assessment of city schools. “The report asserts that city schools building fall far below national standings and gives the district an overall rating of very poor,” said Dr. Andres Alonso, Baltimore City Schools CEO. The report found more than 23 percent were built before 1946, 60 percent are in poor condition and 50 schools would need to be rebuilt or closed.
New Orleans Recovery School District unveils disadvantaged business program for school constructionDanielle Bell, The Lens
June 25, 2012
LOUISIANA: Socially and economically disadvantaged businesses gained another ally when the state-run Recovery School District announced the creation of a program aimed at improving their odds of obtaining school construction contracts.
The new policy says that the district should make every effort to ensure that 25 percent of all construction work is provided by disadvantaged business enterprises. Socially and economically disadvantaged businesses must apply for certification with the state to participate in the program.
Local and minority business owners have complained about the difficulty in obtaining construction contracts since a $1.8 billion FEMA-funded school construction project began. Many local businesses claim the majority of contracts go to larger, out-of-state companies that have the financing to outbid smaller, independently owned businesses. No data is available on the percentage of minority and local contracts versus out-of-state construction contracts. But an NAACP survey showed that in a city with a 66 percent African-American majority, 60 percent of local and minority business owners are unhappy with the amount of construction contracts offered by the RSD and the way the application process works.
The new program, headed by Sombra Williams, seeks to maximize the number of local businesses working on school construction and renovation projects that are set to go out for bid in the next 12 to 18 months. Williams will also provide tracking and oversight to ensure compliance among contractors. Local and minority business owners, members of the NAACP and Urban League of New Orleans applauded the new policy at a news conference held at Sophie B. Wright Charter School on Monday.
“The city and the state is only as good as its policy,” said Bob Brown, managing director of the New Orleans Business Council. “We believe that economic development in this city is crucial as a crime-prevention tool, a stabilization tool, as well as an education tool.”
State Schools Superintendent Patrick Dobard said the new policy offers an inclusive, transparent and accessible means by which disadvantaged businesses in the region can benefit from economic opportunities within the RSD. The policy outlines specific obligations that both contractors and businesses applying must follow and will be closely monitored by the program. The RSD will also track and review actual contractor compliance and compliance efforts. “Contractors who fail to show a ‘good faith’ effort could be subject to a penalty of up to $3,000,” Dobard said.
Solar panels at LAUSD schools convert Valley's blazing sun into energyBarbara Jones, Daily News
June 24, 2012
CALIFORNIA: When triple-digit temperatures hit Woodland Hills this summer, Alma Aguirre isn't going to be thinking about her vehicle baking in the parking lot at Taft High, but the electricity generated by the solar panels covering the school's new carport. The 492-kilowatt, $3.2 million solar carport at Ventura Boulevard and Winnetka Avenue is one of the first to be completed as Los Angeles Unified moves to reduce its utility bills by harnessing the San Fernando Valley's sunshine. "It shades our cars, doesn't cost any money to run and it sometimes makes enough power to give some back to the (electric) grid," said Aguirre, plant manager at Taft.
Los Angeles Unified launched its solar-power initiative in 2009, when it installeda rooftop array at Canoga High. By 2014, it plans to have nearly 60 solar projects erected districtwide, including 26 in the Valley. The entire system will generate a total of 21.3 megawatts of electricity, resulting in savings of $350,000 to $400,000 a year, said Kelly Schmader, chief of the district's Facilities Division. Carport systems are being erected this summer at 15 Valley schools, including two which will also get rooftop arrays. Three additional carports and one more rooftop system are in the planning stages. Although he conceded that solar carports are "somewhat of an eyesore," Schmader said they're cheaper to install and are less likely to create long-term problems than rooftop systems.
Roybal High School in downtown Los Angeles, workers had to penetrate the roof in 1,000 places to install the solar panels. "Punch a hole in a roof," Schmader said, "and water will find its way in." The Division of State Architect, which has to review all school construction plans, said solar projects are becoming increasingly popular as districts try to reduce their energy costs. The agency has reviewed 77 solar projects so far this year, officials said, compared with 36 projects in all of 2007. Although the photovoltaic panels are the most efficient in direct sunlight, they still work during June gloom or the overcast days of winter. Very simply, sunlight reflected on the panels generates a direct-current charge that is transmitted to an inverter. There, it is converted to an alternating-current charge that can be used as electrical power. The systems are designed so that a school uses the solar power first, before drawing electricity from the grid. "We don't have any schools that are completely off the grid - but we're very close," Schmader said.
The district has contracted with five companies to complete the solar program, which is budgeted at about $143 million. LAUSD is paying for the program using $98 million from its construction bond program, $31 million in energy-saving rebates from the city Department of Water and Power and $14 million from a legal settlement with the utility. "Every nickel we spend is bond money, but all the savings are going to the general fund," Schmader said. "People look at these and ask, `How can they afford to build projects when they're laying people off?' I ask, `How can we not afford them?"'
Nashua, New Hampshire school buildings enjoy energy-efficient infrastructure upgradeSimon Rios, Union Leader
June 24, 2012
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Twelve years ago, improvements began on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at Amherst Street Elementary School, Nashua's oldest school building. Now, with advances in energy-efficient boilers, insulation and other technologies, officials are looking to conserve resources at three more schools. But, at $3.5 million a building, the payback could be a long time coming, if ever.
“We have a number of schools that were built in the late 1950s, early 1960s, and they were still using their existing HVAC systems,” said Dan Donovan, chief operating officer for the Nashua School District. “This wasn't done just for savings. The boilers were coming to the end of their useful life.” Donovan said the schools were getting about 50 years out of cast iron boilers before failure issues began to arise. Conversations began over which technology to use. In spite of its high efficiency, geothermal was rejected because of cost. Energy-efficient, gas-powered air displacement systems were the next alternative, containing heat recovery components, full envelope insulation upgrades and dehumidification systems.
An energy-efficient boiler was used at Amherst Street School, in addition to air displacement technology. The air displacement system worked fine, Donovan said, but the energy-efficient boiler didn't work so well and was replaced with a traditional cast iron unit. “When they did at the Amherst Street boiler, we weren't getting the bang for the buck,” he said. “Now, with the technology that's out there, you can.”
By the time bonds for work on Fairgrounds and Ledge Street elementary schools were approved by the city, energy-efficient units were up to par. Donovan said that out of the city's 12 elementary schools, five or six were built during the same period in the 1950s. Ledge Street and Fairgrounds have been completed, and work at Charlotte Avenue is under way. Each school was put out to bid separately, costing $3.5 million apiece.
An HVAC overhaul requires about eight months of work, beginning as soon as the heating systems can be shut down in June. Once students leave for the summer, work starts in the rest of the school. As kids return in the fall, some classes are moved temporarily into gymnasiums. The “smart” HVAC systems cost more in electricity, Donovan said, due largely to the dehumidification component, which simulates air conditioning. “The hope is that the increase in electricity will be offset by the decrease in heating fuel.” Though savings are expected, it's too early to say how much. By next year, officials will be able to use energy efficiency rating software to calculate by school and by month how much is being saved. The systems are centrally controlled by Gary Connors, assistant director of buildings and ground for the school district. “Typically (the new boilers) are at least 35 percent more efficient,” Connors said. They are also implementing state-of-the-art technology that reduces man hours. With the old systems, Connors said, a worker would have to investigate a problem before a fix would be attempted. “On the new system, when there's an issue, I get on the computer, look at it, diagnose it, and either do an online repair, or if there's an issue, you can it on the computer and send a tech out to repair it,” Connors said. The upgrades also include wiring replacements and the installation of motion sensor lighting. But insulation was the cheapest and most effective fix.
“The (Ledge Street, Fairgrounds and Charlotte Avenue) buildings were built in the mid 50s,” Connors said. “They didn't have very tight insulation, especially from the walls to the ceiling. Basically, heat's pouring out of the building. Now with the spray-on styrofoam insulation, it essentially tightens up the building envelope so you don't have heat or air escaping the building.” Connors said insulating alone saves 15 to 20 percent of the energy used to the schools. It's also cheap. “My guess is it's probably a year or two payback.” School district officials hope to include the HVAC upgrades of the next four elementary schools — Broad Street, Sunset Heights, Main Dunstable and Birch Hill — in a forthcoming five-year, $34 million plan.
Brighter Learning. California startup envisions greener portable classroomsKathleen Seccombe, Monterey County Weekly
June 24, 2012
CALIFORNIA: Toxic dust, stale indoor air, mold and formaldehyde. The California Air Resources Board found all of them in the least desirable place: California’s K-12 classrooms. ? A team of local design professionals have targeted portable classrooms, which the 2004 CARB report suggests are even more environmentally sketchy than traditional classrooms. ?
Paul Byrne, a Carmel architect, started Green Apple Classrooms with a vision for greener and healthier schools. GAC’s portable units are designed to produce as much energy as they use (making them “net zero,” in eco jargon) and improve the ventilation, lighting, noise and toxic inputs that typically degrade the learning environments in standard portable classrooms.? Byrne started drafting net-zero portable classroom design in 2009 after hearing about President Barack Obama’s proposed $6 billion green-schools initiative. The Senate voted down the bill, but Byrne pushed forward – partnering with David Knight and Abe Stallcup, owners of the Pacific Grove-based mechanical engineering firm Monterey Energy Group; and Csilla Foss, principal structural engineer of the Howard Carter Association firm in Monterey.? Knight saw more than a market opportunity. “We all had kids in school, and they were all in portables a portion of the time,” he says. “And [those classrooms] tend to be not very nice.”?
Standard portable classrooms, Byrne says, are about as energy-inefficient as it gets. Unlike enclosed permanent classrooms insulated by brick and mortar, portables are exposed on all sides and use cheap materials that provide little insulation. “In terms of ventilation and air conditioning,” Byrne says, “they are the worst metal boxes for energy.” ? GAC installs solar panels on the roofs of its portables, uses cool-roof technology to reflect the sun’s heat, and features a super-insulated building shell. “They become little energy producers,” Byrne says. “When they are not being used in the summer, they are sitting in the yard producing energy, and that energy is going back into the grid.”? GAC units are designed not only to be more energy efficient than typical portables, but also healthier for their occupants. The 2004 CARB report found that portables are more likely than traditional classrooms to have substandard health conditions due to inadequate ventilation, uncomfortable temperature and humidity levels, poor lighting and the use of toxic materials like formaldehyde. GAC aims to create a healthier environment with windows that take advantage of natural light, efficient heating and cooling systems, high-quality air filters, pressurizing systems and less-toxic materials. ?
The company plans to install its first five units in the San Carlos School District near Redwood City on July 24. But GAC’s owners see a much bigger potential market. They cite a Collaborative for High Performance Schools manual counting more than 85,000 portable classrooms in use in California, with up to 4,000 new ones added each year.? GAC was one of three finalists in its category at this year’s Monterey County Regional Business Plan Competition. Although GAC didn’t take home the top prize, competition judge Alan Barich predicts it will be very competitive in the marketplace. ? “They upgrade the temporary portable classroom on a cost-effective basis. And from a green standpoint, GAC has potential,” he says. “People want clean.”
Vacant school slated to become condosM. G. De Guzman, Jersey Journal
June 23, 2012
NEW JERSEY: Located in one of Jersey City’s older neighborhoods, the vacant All Saints School will reopen its doors next summer as a condominium complex. The $5.6 million development is expected to start construction next month. While the exterior will remain the same, the interior will be redeveloped to create 25 units in what officials say is the first adaptive reuse of a vacant property in the Lafayette neighborhood in more than a decade.
The condominium complex is expected to contain four affordable housing units below $100,000 each, and 21 “emerging markets” units that will go between $160,000 and $199,000. Units will be either one or two bedrooms. “There was a demand not only for housing but to clean up a building that has been abandoned for over a decade,” said New Jersey Community Capital spokesman Daniel Kravetz.
A collaboration between New Jersey Community Capital, Community Asset Preservation Corporation, and Alliance Construction Group, LLC, the All Saints Condominium Project was awarded a $1 million CHOICE Award by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. “The All Saints redevelopment has so many assets,” said NJCC president Wayne Meyer, “from its preservation of a beautiful historic building to its proximity to public transit. And the CHOICE funds ensure that the homes will serve a wide range of homebuyers for a long time.”
The project’s developers, local and state officials such as state Department of Community Affairs Acting Commissioner Richard E. Constable III, state Sen. Sandra B. Cunningham and Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, and community members gathered at the former school yesterday to formally announce the award. “Community revitalization requires creative solutions,” said Constable. “This effort is an excellent example of finding a way to move a community forward in tough economic times.” Inappropriate post? Alert us.
Renewable classrooms: Why schools should go greenMariana Ashley, Green Technology Forum
June 23, 2012
NATIONAL: Schools are having a rough time right now. State governments across the country have been implementing cuts in their education budgets, making it that much harder for them to thrive and develop in the 21st century. I think that going green would be a great boon to many schools looking to modernize and economize their facilities, and at no expense to their surrounding environment.
But what exactly does it mean for a school to “go green?” It’s not as if students and teachers can band together to cover a school with solar panels on a whim. No, for a school to go green means that it would adopt and promote small environmental initiatives over a long timeframe meant to help the facilities and educate students at the same time. Some schools are going green, but most are stuck in the dark ages of environmental and energy waste. Here’s why those schools should go green.
It’s financially responsible. The Center for Green Schools defines a green school as “a school that creates a healthy environment that is conducive to learning while saving energy, resources, and money.” Notice that the definition mentions saving money in addition to environmental resources. Green is synonymous with energy efficiency, and that can mean huge savings if done right. Schools that implement a greener infrastructure will be saving tons of money on energy costs, and that’s great news since they little money to spare. Simple policies like conserving electricity use and switching to more efficient lighting techniques can save schools a fortune.
The true benefit of green schools isn’t just in the monetary savings, but in the education it can provide to its students. Elementary schools and high schools have a real and promising opportunity to change the way that their students perceive the world around them, and that’s a powerful tool at their disposal. Schools that choose to promote green and environmental initiatives can build a student body that understands and appreciates the fragility of the environment, and the necessity of preserving it. Children don’t have to take their world for granted, and that awareness can start in the schools.
While green schools are important parts of the overall green movement in this country, it is also just the beginning of it. The students inspired by lessons on environmental issues and green programs are the ones that will lead the next generation of professionals to tackle bigger problems down the line. If elementary schools can successfully encourage their students to be a green leader in their community, perhaps they will further develop that sense of leadership in college and beyond. The children are the future, after all; let’s make sure they inherit and develop a green future.
Santa Barbara Unified School District ready to debut several construction projectsNick C. Tonkin, Daily Sound
June 22, 2012
CALIFORNIA: Two years after passing, several construction projects funded by Measures Q and R will be ready to debut at the start of the next school year. The bond measures passed in 2010 funded several massive upgrades to aging facilities around the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s elementary and secondary schools. The district took several Board of Education members and media on a site tour yesterday.
A new cafeteria at Santa Barbara High, new rooms for San Marcos’ Health Academy, and new playground equipment at Cleveland Elementary are just some of the improvements students will see in the fall. Upgrades to Santa Barbara High’s kitchen and cafeteria are expected to be open by the fall. It features a new walk-in freezer and refrigerator, as well as an upgraded training kitchen where cooking classes can be taught. Carl Mayrose, project manager for all the secondary districts said the project allows the cafeteria to handle a lot more students and prepare more sophisticated meals. “There is the capability here to feed all the kids on campus now,” Mayrose said. The project also performs several heating, ventilation, and electrical upgrades. Dave Hetyonk, director of facilities and operations for the district, said that the total costs of the project will run a little over $4 million.
San Marcos High School is seeing its first major infrastructure upgrades since the school’s founding. New classrooms are being built that will house a computer lab and the Health Academy. It includes a mock hospital bed area where students can learn medical procedures, similar to the nursing program at Santa Barbara City College. The project also allows the school to remove the portable classrooms that have almost become a fixture. Hetyonk said that the condition of some of the portables is so bad that the district is demolishing them. The $8 million project also repaves some parking lots and installs new landscaping. Board member Ed Heron said it’s good to get some permanent buildings up in a district where portable classrooms have almost become the norm. He said the bonds have been a tremendous boost to renovations bringing the school into the 21st century. “That’s the huge advantage here and our health academy can have a home,” Heron said.
Cleveland Elementary is getting its largest outdoor renovation ever. The area outside of the kindergarten classrooms will see new retaining walls and new surface laid in. The $800,000 project also sees upgrades in the playgrounds and fields. Drainage in the area had been a constant problem and in wet weather the playgrounds would not dry as fast. Changes are being made to deal with runoff and new playground equipment will be put in and all the playing courts will stay. The area by the kindergarten will also be able to provide more space for a garden, though the measures won’t pay for any actual plants. “I’ll have to do some fundraising but I’m up for that,” Cleveland Principal Cynthia White said.
Lansing schools to spend more than $1 million in energy efficient improvementsPatrick Lyons , Lancing News
June 22, 2012
MICHIGAN: The Lansing School Board unanimously approved bids for energy efficient improvements to several schools in a meeting Thursday. The first project will put “Energy Management Systems” into five schools including; STEM Academy, Gardner, Cavanaugh, Cumberland and Fairview. The total cost for the projects is estimated to be $535,920. Brian Ralph, chief operations officer for the district, said the new systems will give the schools greater control on when energy is being used. “With the energy management system upgrade we are replacing some of the old pneumatic systems and going to more state-of- the-art digital systems,” Ralph said. “By virtue of doing that it gives us the ability to remotely control all of our heating and cooling equipment, set it for times that the building will be occupied and set it back for when the buildings are closed.”
The district will also be spending $632,152 on boiler upgrades at Eastern, Gardner and Sexton. Ralph said new boilers are needed not only for energy efficiency, but also for reliability. “A lot of the equipment we have in this district has outlived its useful life,” Ralph said. “We have boilers here that over 50, 60, and 70 years old, so the state of reliability is questionable. Replacement not only allows you to improve efficiency, but it also allows you to insure the reliability of performance.” The reason the boilers were not replaced sooner is because it is difficult for the district to spend general fund money to pay for capital improvements, Ralph said. But because of a sinking fund millage passed in 2010 the district’s sinking fund will receive $4 million a year for the next five years for the sole purpose of making such improvements.
These projects are part of a proposed $3.4 million worth of improvements this summer that will be paid for with the sinking fund. Ralph said implementing energy efficient systems can save a building 20 percent in energy cost and energy efficient projects help the district qualify for rebates. “There are opportunities for the district to get rebates and last year we received over $250,000 back for having implemented some of these projects,” Ralph said. “That is an incentive set up by the federal government and we have really capitalized on that as a school district.”
DODEA ramping up effort to fix dilapidated military base schoolsTravis Tritten, Stars and Stripes
June 21, 2012
INTERNATIONAL: The Department of Defense Education Activity said Thursday that it plans to massively ramp up construction efforts in order to meet its goal of replacing 134 severely aging schools — 78 percent of its facilities around the world — before the end of the decade. So far, only a fraction of those deteriorating schools is in the process of being rebuilt or is factored into drafts of next year’s federal budget. Meanwhile, 102 schools that have aged beyond repair remain unbudgeted.
In what could be one of its largest facilities overhauls ever, the agency will request about $2.2 billion from Congress over just a two-year period beginning in the fall of 2013 to replace those remaining schools and eliminate a widespread problem of failing building standards before the end of 2019, DODEA Director Marilee Fitzgerald said. Most base schools in the Pacific, Europe and the United States were built during the Cold War — some are even pre-World War II — and are failing physically, according to DODEA’s own surveys. The lack of major upgrades over the years has led to deterioration of roofs, plumbing, wiring, and heating and cooling systems, which are often too costly to fix in a critically aging school.
The price tag for the agency’s 2010 plan to replace the old buildings is estimated to top $3.7 billion, according to DODEA, and the bulk of the money must now be requested over the next two years as Congress wrestles with the possibility of mandatory defense cuts. “You talk about the pressures that are there in the [federal] budget. There is a great deal of pressure and concern that these schools meet quality standards,” Fitzgerald said. “We must not forget that these schools are in this condition because they were neglected over time.”
So far, Congress has given DODEA funding over the past two years to renovate 23 base schools, mostly in the U.S. and Europe, and those projects are moving forward. Four stateside projects to replace or renovate schools are now in the contracting phase, according to a program schedule supplied by DODEA. The agency hopes to receive enough to rebuild another nine as part of the federal budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which is now being hashed out by Congress. Five of those schools are in Japan, with others in Germany, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Kentucky, the program schedule shows.
Fitzgerald said the vast majority of schools are included in the latter half of DODEA’s five-year budget plan for the massive renovation project in order to build momentum over time. “There is no question that the out years [of the construction program] are larger, absolutely … the 2014 and 2015 program is a healthy program,” she said. “We knew at the onset that this would be an aggressive military construction program.” Fitzgerald insisted the agency will not have a challenge securing billions of dollars in federal funding for the work. DODEA Chief of Facilities Mike Smiley said construction of all 134 new schools will be completed by the end of fiscal 2018. “By 2018 the children will be in the seats,” Fitzgerald said. But the Department of Defense faces $500 billion in automatic budget cuts over 10 years beginning in January if Congress does not find a solution to the process known as sequestration. Fitzgerald said the Office of Management and Budget has so far not released any guidance on how to deal with sequestration, meaning the agency is continuing with its current renovation plans and not factoring in any cuts to future budgets. “They’ll get done,” she said. “These schools cannot be delayed.”
School Addition Strengthens Mind, BodyRandy Dockendorf, Yankton Press & Dakotan
June 20, 2012
SOUTH DAKOTA: Whether you want to exercise your mind or your body, the new Tripp-Delmont school addition offers opportunities for both. The $1.92 million addition opened earlier this year, thanks to $1.3 million from the estate of the late Dr. Helmuth Hoff coupled with the remainder with capital-outlay certificates. Hoff was a Tripp native who practiced medicine in California.
The new addition contains K-3 classrooms, a wellness center, city-school library, kitchen, commons and four new locker rooms.
Tripp-Delmont Superintendent Lynn Vlasman pointed to many extraordinary opportunities provided by Hoff’s gift. “We had a public meeting with parents and community members, and I said we don’t have too many opportunities to have somebody pick up 65 percent of the cost of a project,” he said. Hoff’s bequest reflected his belief in a strong mind and body, and the new addition serves both aspects, Vlasman said. “When he made the gift to help Tripp, part of Dr. Hoff’s focus as a doctor was on health and on learning,” Vlasman said. “With the library and fitness center, we have both in that facility.” Hoff’s bequest covered the bulk of the addition’s cost, but the project received a major boost of other financial and in-kind donations, Vlasman said. Avera St. Benedict Health Center in Parkston provided $5,100 in exercise equipment. Donations from supporters provided $2,000, and Santel Communications added $500.
Sayreville school honored as greenest in New JerseyDeanna McLafferty, Suburban
June 20, 2012
NEW JERSEY: The Center for Lifelong Learning, a school for autistic and multiply disabled students in Sayreville’s Parlin section has become the first New Jersey public school to reach the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum level.
Platinum is the highest of four levels of certification and reflects the environmental advocacy efforts made by the Middlesex Regional Educational Services Commission (MRESC) during the facility’s construction. USA Architects designed the 85,000- square-foot special education school on Cheesequake Road using all-natural building materials and green power.
MRESC Superintendent Mark Finkelstein expressed pride in the achievement during CLL’s graduation ceremony on June 13. He noted that it was not only the first public school in the state to gain LEED Platinum certification, but also the first special needs school in the country to do so. The facility is also among the top 20 schools nationally in terms of energy usage.
Signs posted on the facility’s walls detail various aspects of its environmental design, including its linoleum flooring, low-emitting materials, water conservation, lighting system controls, aerators on faucets and showers, solar panels, waterless urinals and dual-flush toilets. The facility boasts 24 classrooms, a gym, a fitness center, a lap pool and zero-entry pool, a green house, a sensory room and dedicated occupational, physical and speech therapy rooms. About 94 percent of the materials used to build the facility are recyclable, and geothermal wells under the building catch nearly 75 percent of the rainfall to be recycled and reused.
“We have a student population that is often more sensitive to toxins like formaldehyde and other contaminants,” said Patrick Moran, MRESC business administrator. “Having the opportunity to build a green school was important because it ensures a healthy environment for all students and staff members.”
Newark school advisory board postpones vote on leasing closed district facilities to charter schoolsJessica Calefati, Star-Ledger
June 19, 2012
NEW JERSEY: Saying the community needs to have its say, Newark's advisory school board declined to vote on a plan to lease a half-dozen district-owned facilities to six charter schools — a move that could generate $2 million for the district next school year. Board members said the community had not been consulted before the proposed leases appeared on the board's agenda Tuesday morning. All of the district-owned facilities being considered for leases are currently occupied by district schools set to be closed at the end of the month. "We must table this vote until we can have more community input and community dialogue on these leases," said board member Marques Aquil-Lewis.
Last year, plans to lease district facilities to some charter schools also prompted an outcry from the community that the process had been unfair. Some schools that were asked to co-locate last year are ending those agreements and some new district schools will open in those facilities.
Closing and consolidating schools can be emotional, especially for the students affected by the shuffle.
As PCB Issue Lingers, Removal Will Be Expedited at a Brooklyn SchoolHiten Samtani, New York Times
June 19, 2012
NEW YORK: A Brooklyn public school building that had leaking light fixtures will be moved to the top of the list of schools with PCB problems, and the city will replace its lighting very soon, city officials said last week.
The building, which houses P.S. 146 Brooklyn New School and Middle School 448 Brooklyn Secondary School for Collaborative Studies on Henry Street in Carroll Gardens, had light fixtures known to contain polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. These are toxic chemicals that have been associated with health effects like skin conditions and immune system and cognitive deficiencies. Research also indicates that PCBs cause cancer, with the risk rising with prolonged exposure.
The city’s Department of Education’s plan to replace the lighting in city schools has been controversial, to say the least, because of the pace of its timetable. Federal officials, as well as parents at a number of schools, including P.S. 146, have been pressing the city to move more quickly. The city has a list of schools — more than 700 in all — that have light fixtures containing PCBs, and has set a 10-year timeline for the fixtures’ removal.
Last year the Environmental Protection Agency rejected the city’s timeline, saying removal needed to be done in five years or less. The Department of Education has said that it wants to make the fixture removal part of a top-to-bottom energy retrofit, and that it cannot move more quickly. In a statement, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said: “The potential for health effects from PCBs, as with other chemicals, depends on how much, how often and how long someone is exposed. Scientific studies have not shown PCB exposures from building materials to cause health effects in building occupants. It is very unlikely that long-term environmental exposures to PCBs in buildings will increase risk for health effects, including cancer.”
But in an interview last week, Judith Enck, the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional administrator, said that the health concerns from exposure to PCBs are valid. “We do not want children and school staff exposed,” Ms. Enck said. “There is a particular risk for pregnant women and women of childbearing age.” She added that replacing the old lighting with energy-efficient bulbs would save money, and that the plan would pay for itself within seven years. That the city had agreed to remove the old lighting was commendable, Ms. Enck said. But officials should abandon the plan to make it part of a larger energy project. “I asked them to do a lighting replacement first, and then cycle back and do the other improvements,” she said. The city said it could not structure the contracts in that way, but Ms. Enck said that seemed like a contract management issue that would unnecessarily increase the duration of PCB exposure. “For a while, they said they had the money but not the staff for the projects. I said to them, ‘What if I look for more money for you to hire more managers?’ They said, ‘No thanks.’”
Between 1950 and 1978, fluorescent light fixtures containing PCBs, which were used as coolants, were installed in school buildings across the city. In 1978, PCBs were banned for new construction work in the United States, after the Toxic Substances Control Act two years earlier. Now many of the light fixtures that contain them are years past their life expectancy and are at risk of leaking or even bursting.
PCBs are not just a New York City problem. Schools across the country are grappling with the issue. But New York City officials estimate that it will cost nearly $800 million for the removal of the fixtures from the 700 affected public schools — an effort that a spokeswoman for the Department of Education said was unprecedented nationally. Until the full program can be carried out, city officials have said, schools with observed leaks will be given priority and their problems will be addressed within 48 hours of confirmation.
Purdue trustees approve $67 million in campus projectsEric Weddle, JConline
June 18, 2012
INDIANA: Two major research facilities at Purdue University are now on the path to construction. Contracts were approved Monday for the drug discovery facility, health and human sciences research facility and a parking garage. Work will begin next month. The $67.6 million worth of projects were approved by the Purdue board of trustees on Monday. The trustees’ physical facilities committee met via teleconference followed by another teleconference of the executive committee to approve the action. The projects initially were given approval in 2010 and have since been approved by state officials.
Together, the three structures will anchor the university’s Life and Health Sciences Park, an area of campus at the northwest corner of Harrison and University streets. Construction will be simultaneous.
Houston Independent School District planning bond package up to $1.8 billionEricka Mellon, Houston Chronicle
June 18, 2012
TEXAS: The Houston Independent School District is preparing to ask voters to fund up to $1.8 billion in bonds to replace and upgrade aging campuses. Superintendent Terry Grier has said the bond referendum - which would go to voters in November if the school board approves - likely would focus on high schools. Grier plans to reveal his specific proposal Thursday. Sources familiar with the plan say the amount will be as high as $1.8 billion, likely requiring a property tax increase of 6.25 cents per $100 of assessed value. "You could spend many times that number and still not touch everything," Grier said.
At that amount, owners of a $200,000 home would see their annual property tax bill rise by $91 annually in a few years, when the district prepares to start construction. A $1.8 billion referendum would be more than twice as large as the $805 million HISD voters narrowly approved in 2007.
Work from that package is still under way, but even critics of the district acknowledge more schools need repair. The question is whether taxpayers - some skeptical after two recent audits criticized HISD's contracting process - are willing to pay.
Grier and his staff have been touting the success of the 2007 bond in recent weeks. They launched a new website, for example, that says: "Promises Made. Promises Kept." Of 180 projects stemming from the bond election five years ago, 71 were in the planning, design or bid stage as of late March; all should be finished by 2014, according to the district'slatest report. The other 109 projects are finished or under construction, with 16 new elementary schools open.
HISD board president Mike Lunceford said he's withholding judgment on another bond until Grier unveils his proposal. Lunceford, who served on HISD's bond oversight committee in 2007, said all the work was supposed to have been completed by this year, but projects have been delayed for several unexpected reasons.
The district could not sell its first round of bonds until three months after the November 2007 referendum because of pending lawsuits questioning the validity of the process. Then, Lunceford said, the rising cost of steel and other materials delayed some work. In addition, some projects were funded through sources other than bonds - such as real estate sales and the district's savings account. Some of these additional funds, which totaled $371million, were not immediately available. Combining the 2007 bonds and the additional funding, HISD's ongoing facility plan totals nearly $1.2 billion. As of late March, the district reported that nearly $400 million had not been spent. HISD's chief operating officer, Leo Bobadilla, said the overall package is within budget, although the school board has agreed to increase spending on some projects.
In late 2010, Grier shocked the board when he said the bond program was $37 million over budget - a claim that proved untrue after his newly hired bond manager, Issa Dadoush, and a consultant, Joe Hill, reviewed the numbers in detail. Hill said that he had to rein in some projects that had grown in scope, but the bogus shortfall resulted largely from a misunderstanding of how some funds were reported.
The Enlightened Classroom. School districts are using solar power to cut their energy bills—and cope with budget cutsJim Carlton, Wall Street Journal
June 18, 2012
NATIONAL: Solar power has long been touted for its environmental impact. But now it has a new role: saving teachers' jobs.School districts across the country are turning to solar power to cut their electricity costs. With the money they're saving, they are able to retain more teachers and programs in the face of budget cuts. As a bonus, some schools are using solar installations to teach kids about renewable energy.
More than 500 K-12 schools in 43 states have installed solar panels, many of them over the past three years as solar-power costs have fallen by more than one-third, according to estimates by the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group in Washington, D.C., and GTM Research, a Greentech Media Inc. unit in Boston.
"It really is one of the fastest-growing markets and probably will have the most impact in our society, because it will put money back into more teachers and expand education," says Rhone Resch, president and chief executive officer of the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Solar power now is often cheaper than the retail cost of electricity. In California, for example, solar power costs 11 to 12 cents per kilowatt-hour, versus about 17 to 24 cents for retail power. A kilowatt-hour is roughly the amount of electricity it takes to light one classroom for one hour. Costs have fallen in part because manufacturers around the world have increased production, creating a glut of solar panels. In response to the cheaper prices, demand for solar power has surged, with the generating capacity of new installations more than quadrupling from about 400 megawatts in 2008 to about 1,900 megawatts in 2011, according to the solar trade group and GTM Research. Cheaper power is particularly attractive to school districts because their budgets have been hit hard in recent years by flagging local economies and resistance to tax increases, and because schools have so few ways to save money without laying off teachers.
David Peterson, superintendent of the Scottsdale Unified Schools district outside Phoenix, estimates that 90% of the district's budget goes toward teachers and other staff. Supplies and other essentials take up about 4%, and power accounts for the remainder. "I don't have a lot to buy supplies and equipment, and you don't want to cut staff, because people want class sizes low," says Mr. Peterson, who notes that the annual budget of the 26,000-student district has dropped to $150 million from $170 million two years ago. "The only way to save money," he adds, "is by cutting utilities."
The Scottsdale district is one of many that are adding to their savings by purchasing solar power from a supplier rather than paying for solar equipment and installation themselves. In 2009, the district signed agreements to buy power from several companies that installed solar panels on 19 of the district's 32 campuses. Under the contracts, the district pays seven cents a kilowatt-hour, compared with the cost of 11.5 cents a kilowatt-hour for power from the electricity grid. That shaves 5%, or $300,000, off what had been a $6 million annual electricity bill, says Mr. Peterson. "With the savings, I was able two years ago to recall six teachers who had been laid off due to budget cuts," he says.
Another advantage of power-purchase agreements, school officials say, is that they let districts lock in a fixed price for what they pay for solar energy. California's Paradise Unified School District, for instance, last year signed a contract with SolarCity Corp., based in San Mateo, to buy solar power at a cost 15% below the going rate for utility power, with no price increase over the 15-year term of the contract, says Roger Bylund, the district superintendent. He says the district expects to save $50,000 a year. "In the context of the budget crisis in California, the savings have allowed us to lay off fewer teachers and reduce cuts to programs," Mr. Bylund says.
SunPower Corp., of San Jose, Calif., is installing a total of 30 megawatts of solar-power capacity at K-12 schools in the state, which leads the nation in solar installations in part because of its long-standing subsidy program. "All told, California schools are expected to save $1.5 billion over the next 30 years through the use of on-site solar-power systems," says SunPower spokeswoman Ingrid Ekstrom. Still, solar power isn't without its challenges for schools. One is that the panels are prone to theft or vandalism if they are made too accessible, school officials say. Another risk is that a district will agree to pay more than it should under a power-purchase contract, says Russell Driver, an industry consultant in San Francisco. That can happen if energy prices don't rise as much as expected—or even fall—over the life of the contract, or if the district simply fails to negotiate skillfully.
But solar energy also can provide value beyond cost savings for schools, as an educational tool. At Rosa Parks Elementary in Berkeley, Calif., students race solar-powered cars, operate a solar-powered decorative fountain and participate in an annual solar fair. Officials of the Berkeley Unified School District say that while children are learning hands-on about renewable energy, the $45,000 in annual savings the district expects to achieve with installations on two schools so far will help offset budget cuts. "I think it's a no-brainer," says William Huyett, superintendent of the 9,500-student district across the bay from San Francisco.
Trailers a crutch for crowded schoolsJeremy Slayton, Richmond Times Dispatch
June 18, 2012
VIRGINIA: Trailers are a necessary evil when school buildings become overcrowded or need renovation. That is the consensus from central Virginia's four largest school divisions: No one wants to use them, but they are mostly unavoidable. During the recently completed 2011-12 school year, more than 150 trailers — or learning cottages, as some school officials call them — were used at schools in the Hanover County, Henrico County and Richmond school districts. In Chesterfield County, more than 260 classroom trailers were in use in 2010-11, according to the most recent data available. Chesterfield is the division with the highest enrollment in the region, with nearly 10,000 more students than Henrico. Not all school trailers are used for classroom space — some hold administrative offices — but most are dedicated to student use throughout the year.
"We understand that being in a permanent school building is the most ideal, but we also know that our teachers provide the same quality instruction regardless of the building structure," Henrico schools spokesman Mychael Dickerson said. Of the 102 classroom trailers at Henrico schools, 56 are being used because of school renovations; the rest were used to expand capacity at those schools.
In recent weeks, the Chesterfield School Board agreed to pay Modular Technologies Corp. $244,878 to purchase and install a multi-classroom mega trailer at J.B. Watkins Elementary School, the division's most overcrowded school. David Myers, assistant superintendent for budget and finance for Chesterfield schools, said Watkins experienced "a lot of growth quickly." According to fall membership numbers reported to the Virginia Department of Education, Watkins' student body has increased 16 percent — from 905 to 1,047 — since the 2008-09 school year. The school's rated capacity is 749 students. That was during the height of the economic downturn when school divisions across the state, including Chesterfield, slashed budgets and slowed capital improvement projects. For the school year that ended Friday, Watkins was at nearly 140 percent capacity and is currently under renovation — part of a 2004 voter-approved bond referendum — to include classroom renovations and additional classrooms.
Chesterfield is taking steps to further relieve overcrowding at Watkins. In the current 2013-17 capital improvement programs, $11 million is planned for future renovations or additions at Bettie Weaver Elementary and a yet-to-be determined school. "Our preferred choice, obviously, is to have a school that will hold all of the students, so that they are one student body, as opposed to being in a space outside of the school," Myers said. But building new schools is an expensive proposition.
Richmond is building new school facilities for the first time in more than a decade. Construction costs for two new elementary schools are around $20 million each; in all, the city plans to build four schools at a total cost of about $169.6 million.
Leasing trailers can also be expensive. Chesterfield owns each of its trailers, while Henrico paid $409,980 to rent 92 classroom trailers for 2011-12, and Richmond spent $113,604.48 to rent 22. Hanover, which uses the fewest classroom trailers, paid $31,035 to lease seven.
The mega-trailer being installed at Watkins is unlike most other trailers used as classrooms. It will include eight classrooms and restroom facilities. It is intended to replace eight smaller trailers and is likely to house the school's fifth-grade classes. An existing mega trailer on school grounds houses the fourth grade. Myers said the mega-trailer will meet specifications for classroom size — 150 square feet per student — and will have current technology with wireless connectivity. The temporary-use approach to trailers has been used in Hanover. Pole Green Elementary School opened in 2000 with 800 students, but within three years the school was out of space, Principal Rhonda Epling said. The county added six modular classrooms by 2003 and nine more the next year as the school grew to 1,100 students. Then Hanover opened Laurel Meadow Elementary nearby and shifted 500 Pole Green students there. That left Pole Green with 600 students — and plenty of space.
However, at some schools, temporary can become long-term. Trailers at Richmond's Clark Springs Elementary, Fairfield Court Elementary, George Mason Elementary, Overby-Sheppard Elementary, Westover Hill Elementary, Woodville Elementary and Chimborazo Elementary have been in use since the early 1990s. Those trailers mostly function as classrooms for special education students or Virginia Preschool Initiative students.
Renewed Energy to Preserve Rosenwald SchoolsDiette Courrege , Education Week Blog
June 18, 2012
NATIONAL: Rosenwald schools were built to educate black students in the rural South, and there's renewed energy around preserving those historic structures. The National Trust for Historic Preservation hosted a first-ever National Rosenwald Schools Conference in Alabama late last week as part of a new, broader effort launched earlier this year to save 100 Rosenwald Schools by 2015.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Rosenwald schools. About 5,300 were built between the early 1910s and the early 1930s, but only 800 remain. Many have been torn down or neglected, while others haven't been identified as Rosenwald schools. Many are in poor condition, and restoration money is hard to find.
The National Trust listed the schools among its most endangered historic places a decade ago, and it's been working since then to preserve them. The goal of the conference was to give Rosenwald school alumni and preservationists an opportunity to connect with one another and learn what they could do to keep those structures in tact, said Rebecca Morgan, the associate director of public affairs for the National Trust. "We want to raise awareness for this quickly vanishing segment of America's story," she said.
Rosenwald schools are among the sites identified as a"National Treasure" by the National Trust, and the goal of saving 100 became official earlier this year. The National Trust formed a partnership with Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation on this issue in 2008, and since then, it has contributed $2.5 million to restore 41 Rosenwald schools in 11 states.
Audit critical of some RSD oversight of New Orleans Public School constructionKevin McGill, Daily Comet
June 18, 2012
LOUISIANA: The state agency that oversees most New Orleans public schools should tighten controls over contract changes that drive up costs at some school construction sites, Louisiana's Legislative Auditor's Office said in a report. Contract change orders were one focus of the report. It said one reason the change orders were needed is that some contracts were signed before all permits were granted. The order to change contracts after they were signed often added to costs, sometimes excessively. "Of the $607,193 in net change orders, $44,677 was charged for overhead and profit that exceeds the 10 percent total contractually allowed," the report said.
Policies for testing of construction materials also needed improvement, the report said, citing samples of materials from the site of Osborne Elementary School. "Three concrete reports out of 120 contained samples that appear to be significantly below the required design strength. In addition, a total of four concrete reports were taken from concrete pours by someone other than the testing agency," the report said. In a response released with the audit Monday, the RSD said it was providing documentation to show that different parts of the project require different strengths of concrete.
Auditors also said architecture and engineering firms' reports on the projects need to be more thorough, and suggested that RSD establish minimum requirements for all such reports. In its response, the RSD said it agreed with most of the findings and recommendations in the report and said it was already taking steps to address them.
Columbus Public Schools saves $385K with energy programStaff writer, Columbus Telegram
June 17, 2012
NEBRASKA: The staff at Columbus Public Schools has been implementing energy efficiency measures that have helped save the district thousands of dollars. More than two years ago, CPS formed a strategic alliance with Energy Education, a national energy conservation company. Through that, staff in the district has made efforts to ensure that energy is used as efficiently as possible, said Richard Luebbe, the district’s Energy Education Specialist. In the last 29 months, the district saved 23 percent for a total of of $385,442. CPS was given an Environmental Excellence Award at its Monday board meeting for the achievement.
The district implemented the plan in 2009 with the intention of it saving $1.9 million over a 10 year period. At the time the plan was approved, the district spent about $650,000 annually on electricity and fuel. Luebbe said all of the employees in the district have taken the energy-saving effort to heart. Staff has been encouraged to turn off lights, unplug equipment and perform other steps to reduce the amount of energy used in the district. Luebbe analyzes all energy use throughout the district to ensure that energy is used as efficiently as possible, that includes the use of electricity, water, sewers, natural gas and fuel oil. The use is tracked using energy-accounting software.
Using the software enables Luebbe to compare current energy use to a baseline period and calculate the amount of energy that would have been used had conservation and management practices not been implemented. By tracing consumption and analyzing energy use, he can identify and correct areas that need immediate attention.
To save a schoolhouse -- and historyJamie Gumbrecht, CNN
June 16, 2012
GEORGIA: Rosenwald schools are a collection of about 5,000 schoolhouses built between the early 1910s and early 1930s. Their creation stemmed from philanthropy and community cooperation that were rare for the time -- matching funds provided by Sears, Roebuck and Co. leader Julius Rosenwald, educational direction by Tuskegee Institute leader Booker T. Washington and financial support from local black families and white-led school districts. Their purpose: Educate black children in the rural South.
They were modern schoolhouses for the time, designed by Tuskegee Institute architects with ventilation, gathering space and windows large enough for reading light.
"You need a schoolhouse," Washington told his Tuskegee students. "You cannot teach school in log cabins without doors, windows, lights, floor or apparatus. You need a schoolhouse, and, if you are earnest, the people will help you."
With seed money from Rosenwald, the rural school building program led to significant educational gains for rural Southern blacks, Federal Reserve of Chicago researchers wrote last year, with great effects on cognitive test scores, literacy and years of schooling. As the black-white education gap narrowed between the World Wars, educated African-Americans were more likely to move to areas with stronger labor markets -- mostly cities in the North -- which helped to shape the Great Migration and the 20th century economy. When the school building program ended in 1932, it had served more 660,000 students in 15 states, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
It has been 10 years since the National Trust listed Rosenwald schools among the most endangered historic places. Since then, the National Trust launched the Rosenwald Schools Initiative to help school groups share resources and channel millions in grant money. The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African-American History and Culture has been acquiring Rosenwald school artifacts. The broader history of the schools has become better known, leading more alumni and communities to question whether their rickety old buildings are part of a bigger story.
There's renewed energy in the fight to restore the old structures, preservationist said. Their current status, as far as the National Trust is concerned: Favorable. That doesn't mean it'll be easy.
National Trust for Historic Preservation officials estimate about 800 Rosenwald schools still stand. But just like when they were built, their survival requires broader community support.
SMU spends $375 million on campus projects with hopes to construct a top-tier futureMelissa Repko, Dallas News
June 16, 2012
TEXAS: In nearly every corner of Southern Methodist University, President R. Gerald Turner can point out signs of change. From newly planted trees to the construction of five residential halls and a tennis complex, SMU is in the middle of a campus transformation. The 100-year-old university expects to complete about $375 million in building and renovation projects by the end of 2015 to support more students living on campus. The projects are already changing the landscape on the eastern side of campus, where cranes and heavy equipment crawl over construction sites near Central Expressway — not far from where the George W. Bush Presidential Center has risen over the last 18 months.
SMU leaders hope the changes will be more than physical: They are symbolic of broader goals to boost university rankings, attract top students and faculty and become a greater academic and economic force in Dallas and the nation. “SMU has a tremendously symbiotic relationship with the city,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. “As it grows, the city grows, and as the city grows, it grows.”
Dallas Council member Angela Hunt, whose district includes some SMU property, also supports the growth. She said more students living on campus could increase foot traffic and support mixed-used development east of Central Expressway. “They bring a concentrated group of residents [to an area] — young people … who will frequent the local shops and restaurants. They bring an important educational hub to a city,” Hunt said. “ I consider it a Dallas city asset.”
Beyond 2015, SMU plans new academic buildings in the north part of campus and additional research space and residential halls for upperclassmen and graduate students across Central Expressway, near Mockingbird Station.
Retirees Push Back; School Bond Will be $150MJennifer Squires, Watsonville Patch
June 16, 2012
CALIFORNIA: Leaky roofs. Non-existent sports facilities. Ancient plumbing. The proposed school bond would fix a lot of these problems at schools in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District, it's just tough to say if voters will back the bond. It was that concern about support that led the PVUSD Board of Trustees to approve the bond at $150 million, down from earlier proposals that ranged from $190 to $210 million. The school board approved the bond with unanimous 7-0 vote, which inspired a round of applause. The measure will be on the November ballot.
But throughout the night, emotions ran high in the board room. High school students begged for better facilities while senior citizens on fixed incomes asked that their taxes not be raised. “We think the bond is excessive," said Joe Moreno, representing the county's Senior Coalition. "It’s too much. It’s too big of a pill for us to swallow at this time.” Helder Zargoza, who graduated from Pajaro Valley High School last week, said he came to speak up for younger students. “I feel they would do better in school with more resources than I had," he said. Aptos residents said they felt left out of the conversation and didn't want to support repairing schools in Watsonville.
The Facilities Master Plan, completed earlier this year, showed $200 million in repair and renovation needs in the sprawling school district. The Pajaro Valley Unified School District, the largest in the county, includes diverse communities including the Aptos beach area, rural Pajaro Valley and the city of Watsonville. Others said they would support the bond to help kids everywhere in the district. “We’re all vested; it’s for everyone," said Alison Niizawa, assistant principal at Pajaro Valley High School. “If you guys can support us, we will support back. We can get the bond. Everyone can get what they need.” If approved in November, the bond will add about $38 per $100,000 of assessed home value to property owners' taxes. Trustee Doug Keegan summed up the situation: “At some point we just have to say we need help because our schools are suffering," he said.
Fox Cities, Wisconsin school districts need millions to update facilitiesMegan Nickolai, Post Cresent
June 16, 2012
WISCONSIN: Fox Cities school districts own a lot of real estate and spend millions every year to maintain their facilities, and for older districts, the to-do lists keep getting longer. The Appleton Area School District has identified more than $19 million in necessary improvements to school buildings. For example, crews will install elevators at Franklin and Johnston elementary schools this summer so the buildings can properly accommodate students with disabilities — additions that will cost the district almost $413,000
AASD budgets $960,000 every year to maintain its schools and facilities. The money is pulled directly from a capital projects account, called Fund 41, that is fed by property taxes and state aid. “We have a lot of square footage,” said Don Hietpas, who manages the district’s finances. “To only invest a million dollars a year in our buildings to keep them viable is not enough. But we’ve done what we can with what we have.” In past years, the district budgeted upward of $2 million a year for capital projects, but budget constraints have reduced the amount set aside significantly, Hietpas said. Kimberly, Little Chute and Neenah also pay for their maintenance and capital projects using a Fund 41 account. Both Kaukauna and Menasha budget for capital projects out of a general fund reserve. This gives school boards more flexibility while budgeting for the year, said Mark Van Der Zee, director of business services for the Menasha Joint School District.
The long list of needed improvements in Appleton is mostly due to the age of the district’s more than 20 buildings. Bob Zuehlsdorf, facilities and operations director, said the average classroom in Appleton schools is more than 50 years old.
Administrators prioritize which projects get paid for each year by sorting them into four categories — improvements in safety, structure maintenance, increasing energy efficiency and general improvements, Hietpas said. “There’s things we can’t get to that we wish we could.” Administrators eventually will have to find ways to pay $6.5 million to replace aging windows in the district, and $3.5 million to update security, according to Appleton’s list of capital improvement projects. But Appleton schools aren’t helpless if something catastrophic happens, like a boiler malfunction, Hietpas said. The district can dip into its fund reserve at any time.
Good as gold: Green schools earn brandingMarc Freeman, Sun Sentinel
June 16, 2012
FLORIDA: When is green as good as gold? When environmentally friendly school buildings earn high marks from a national organization. Palm Beach County now has four schools with gold-level certification from the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council. It's the most of any school district in Florida, says Support Operations Chief Joseph Sanches. The $30 million Plumosa School of the Arts in Delray Beach recently received the designation. It's for the heavy use of recycled building materials and energy-saving features such as plentiful natural daylight.
New resource to build healthier, green schools. Hawaii CHPS CriteriaMedia Release, Hawaii 24/7
June 16, 2012
HAWAII: The Hawaii CHPS Criteria (HI-CHPS), a resource used to design and construct healthy, high performance, green schools, has been released for public use. Hawaii becomes the 13th state to adopt a CHPS high performance school Criteria. HI-CHPS was approved by the Board of Directors of the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, a national non-profit that brings local high performance school rating programs to states across the US.
“The state of Hawaii is one of the most climatically and ecologically diverse states in the union, which makes it the perfect candidate for a state-based green school rating program,” said Chip Fox, chairman of the CHPS Board of Directors. “Hawaii CHPS contains some of the most unique and state-specific credits we have seen yet. We are thrilled to have Hawaii join the ranks of states participating in the CHPS program.”
“The adoption of the HI-CHPS Criteria is the next step in our development of more eco-friendly and sustainable school facilities,” said Randy Moore, assistant superintendent for school facilities and support services. “Sustainability is of particular importance to Hawaii as an island state, and we are delighted to have HI-CHPS Criteria that have been created specifically for Hawaii schools. These criteria will be invaluable in the development of schools and our proactive response to both the educational need for environmentally sensitive classrooms and the societal need for energy efficiency.” The HI-CHPS Criteria can be downloaded at: www.chps.net/hawaii.
The HI-CHPS Criteria was developed by a committee of K-12 school stakeholders under the guidance of the state Department of Education and CHPS. Hawaii’s unique climate posed the largest challenge for the advisory committee’s work, including creating prerequisites and credits appropriate to the year-round temperatures, rain and wind patterns, and humidity of the islands. The committee developed a new prerequisite for analyzing the site’s microclimate to inform design decisions. In addition, more distinct requirements, compliance pathways, and an extra credit, were developed for naturally-ventilated and conditioned classrooms to ensure that air quality and comfort were equivalently valued and achieved compared to those mechanically ventilated and conditioned. HI-CHPS is the first CHPS Criteria to have a prerequisite and credit for use of the CHPS Operations Report CardTM (ORC) – a program that allows schools to benchmark how the schools are actually performing within 18 months of construction. The committee also developed entirely new credits not seen in any other state adaptation for outdoor classrooms, tree protection and preservation, culturally responsive designs, and electric vehicles. Projects using Hawaii CHPS and seeking recognition through CHPS will also make use of a new CHPS Plan Sheet approach, which will help project managers to communicate project goals and strategies in a streamlined plan sheet that will be a part of the project’s construction documents.
The Hawaii CHPS Advisory Committee is made up of a number of stakeholders from local design, engineering, construction firms, as well as representatives from the state Department of Education; the state Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism; and a representative for the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools from Hawaii Preparatory Academy. The Hawaii CHPS Advisory Committee used the CHPS National Core Criteria to develop Hawaii’s state-specific high performance building rating system. States use the Core Criteria to build in state priorities, local climate and code issues and other regional variations that make each state’s rating system unique.
Over the last five years, 13 states have developed rating systems for their schools, but Hawaii is only the third since the CHPS Core Criteria was made available. HI-CHPS applies not only to the design and construction of new schools, but also to major modernizations and additions to existing school campuses. CHPS is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit headquartered in Sacramento, Calif.
Energy Squad watching schools' energy usageScott Salowich, News Herald
June 15, 2012
MICHIGAN: If you’re the last one to leave a classroom in one of the Allen Park Public Schools’ elementary schools, get the lights. Make sure the computers and other electronic devices are turned off as well. While you’re at it, if the blinds are open and the hot sun is blazing away, shut ’em. You never know when the Energy Squad might be watching.
Organizing a group of students to patrol the school and remind their classmates and teachers to save energy is just one of many steps the district has taken since making a commitment three years ago to become both more energy efficient and more environmentally conscious. An Energy Essentials Task Force meets monthly to discuss new strategies and monitor the progress of its original initiatives, which include everything from the Energy Squads and ecology clubs that have been created for the students to ecological training for custodial and food service employees to a challenge for all school activities to “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!” “I’ve been very excited about our task force,” school Supt. John Sturock said. “We have a lot of people involved and it has worked in so many ways. Being more energy conscious has enabled us to save an awful lot of money that has been put back into our budget, and it has been rewarding to see our kids and our staff become so involved with the energy curriculum.”
The energy-saving ethic applies no matter what kind of weather there is.At Bennie Elementary, there is a rain barrel that collects water for the school’s vegetable and herb garden. When the sun is out, a solar panel at Allen Park Middle School collects power that is used to help run the building. Recently, students belonging to the school’s “Green Team” learned more about the topic by taking a trip to the University of Michigan’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens to check out the MiSo (Michigan Solar) House that is on display. It is a modular home-of-the-future, made from Earth-friendly materials, wrapped in an aluminum skin and covered with solar panels that produce more energy than is required to run the household. As Sturock noted, “going green” has paid off, both in raising the awareness of the students and employees and on the bottom line.
The district has knocked more than $300,000 off its energy bills in the past three years.
Hawaii Department of Education Set to Begin Inventory of School FacilitiesAlex Ferreras, Loan Safe
June 15, 2012
HAWAII: he Department of Education is preparing to develop a strategic plan for school facilities that officials say will make clearer the needs of aging campuses and spell out the state’s vision for what 21st-century schools should look like. The state wants to complete the plan by the end of 2013. “In order to plan ahead, we need to know what we have and what the conditions are in a more comprehensive way,” said Duane Kashiwai, public works administrator for the DOE Facilities Development Branch.
The plan will include a comprehensive inventory of Hawaii’s 256 public schools and their needed repairs. Officials believe the plan will ultimately help to better allocate resources and address areas with the highest needs. It will also be “aspirational,” Kashiwai said, delving into such philosophical issues as a school’s role in a community and society. (For example, how should schools be used after students leave in the afternoon?)
The department plans to reach out to a number of stakeholder groups for input on the master plan. The DOE will also seek the help of a consultant to help guide the development of the plan, and hopes to have one chosen by October. An estimate on how much developing the master plan will cost is not yet available.
The strategic plan is the latest step in a years-long effort to upgrade Hawaii’s aging inventory of schools and meet the needs of modern learners. Statewide, more than half of all schools are 50 years old or older. Some 16 percent were built before 1912. Just 3 percent are less than 9 years old. Over the past decade, the department has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into its effort to address backlogged repairs at campuses. In 2001, the price tag for backlogged repairs was at $720 million. Today, it’s about $382 million. More recently, the DOE has turned its attention to upgrading outdated infrastructure, including telecommunication lines and old electrical systems. Also, last year, the DOE kicked off a decade-long, $100 million modernization project of Farrington High. The project is seen as a new way to tackle repairs of an aging campus all at once, rather than piecemeal, while also updating facilities to meet modern needs.
Board of Education members say with the strategic plan, the department will be able to better align facilities decisions with big academic goals, such as boosting student achievement. Some onlookers also see the plan as an opportunity to study out-of-the-box ideas for financing new schools or modernizing old ones. The inventory will give the department a better idea of what properties aren’t being used to their potentialand whether there is unused land on campuses that could be leased out to commercial developments, with profits going into new school facilities. That model has been advocated by the Hawaii Institute for Public Affairs, a nonprofit research group, and is already being tried in several citie
Phoenix Roadrunner Elementary abandoning trailer for sustainable schoolhouseEmily Gersema, The Republican
June 14, 2012
ARIZONA: The classroom trailers common to school campuses nationwide are being taken off the grounds of a Phoenix school, Roadrunner Elementary. Southwest of Northern Avenue and Interstate 17, the Safari building at Roadrunner Elementary School is one of the nation's first LEED-certified school facilities to be funded by a blossoming non-profit, the Green Schoolhouse Series of Carlsbad, Calif. The "green" building, valued at $2.4 million but paid entirely by donations from various companies, will open this year, replacing classroom trailers and adding energy-saving appliances, solar panels and recycled materials that the builder believes will qualify it for the top LEED certification, platinum.
Principal Karen Menaugh said Roadrunner was chosen from 11 Valley schools that applied for the all-expenses-paid project because the school has reduced electricity usage and promoted recycling.
Green Schoolhouse Series and its partners are involved in another LEED building project for one other Washington Elementary School District site, Orangewood Elementary School, near 19th and Orangewood avenues in Phoenix. Projects also are planned for Rio Salado College, and nationally, at campuses in Chicago, San Diego and Seattle.
The Green Schoolhouse Series was founded in 1998 by Jeff Zotara and his father, Marshall Zotara, who own the public-relations firm Cause & Effect Evolutions, also in Carlsbad, Calif. After helping on various school-improvement projects, Jeff Zotara said he and his dad noticed a trend: Portables were parked on many of the campuses where they had renovated schools. An estimated 300,000 portables are in use at campuses nationwide, according to a 2011 report by the Modular Building Institute, an industry group. Portables are supposed to provide temporary relief for persistent problems such as overcrowded classrooms and deteriorating structures. For cash-strapped schools, they have become fixtures. "We realized these portables were built as a temporary solution, but they end up permanent," Jeff Zotara said. A 2004 study on classroom portables by the California Environmental Protection Agency found that portables can aggravate health problems in schoolchildren with conditions such as asthma and allergies.
Zotara said Safari at Roadrunner Elementary has some features that can teach children about technology, sustainability and the environment. Those include a garden, and what the kids and teachers are calling "The Truth Wall," a 2-by-2 wall covered with plastic glass that's a window into the building's internal organs, including its Aquatherm polypropylene piping and electrical wiring. Zotara said unlike copper piping for plumbing, Aquatherm's piping produces no residue, and is therefore safer for the environment. The building, which will be 6,200 square feet, will feature a wellness room, library, a multipurpose room that will include some computers that the local community can use after school, and space for elementary-level classes to work on their STEM studies -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A project partner, DeVry University, is training teachers to incorporate more STEM studies into their lessons. Safari also will have a 30 kilowatt solar system by Empire Solar Energy, which will produce an average of 52,224 kilowatt hours of power in a year -- roughly 50percent of the school's electricity needs.
The Zotaras have built a network of companies that support the Green Schoolhouse Series' projects around the country, with this caveat: The buildings must be built for free, with donated materials and parts, donated labor, and involve community volunteers for tasks such as landscaping and assembling playgrounds.
Schoolhouse Huntinghttp://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingco, City Paper
June 13, 2012
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Sixteen years after the first charter school opened in D.C., the independent schools educate 41 percent of the District’s kids, but control nowhere near that much of the city’s educational real estate. More D.C. Public Schools buildings are likely to close in the future; many high schools, especially, are woefully under-enrolled. But the District hasn’t had a good track record of letting other organizations use the buildings, because of all the levels of community and city review involved. Could there be a better way?
There are a couple generations of surplus D.C. school buildings. The first came after charter schools were legalized in 1995, when the financial control board sold off dozens of buildings, many of which were redeveloped as condos. Former Mayor Adrian Fenty’s administration closed 23 schools, but got around rules that the buildings must be first offered to charters, filling them with other government agencies or selling them to developers.
Now, 17 out of D.C.’s 98 charter buildings are former DCPS schools, taking up about half of those that have been made available. The rest are in commercial space, which the charters have either bought, built, or leased by borrowing against their facilities allowance. Better schools fare well here: To protect against the risk of a school losing its charter, banks use the Charter School Board’s academic rankings like bond ratings. Eighteen closed schools are being used for other purposes, eight are in the process of being unloaded, and a couple are still in limbo.
How do the empty buildings become available? Once DCPS decides to close a school, the city offers the building to charter schools, picks one, and negotiates a lease that usually runs 25 years. Then, the D.C. Council has to vote to declare the property surplus and give it to the winning charter.
All that can take two to four years, which makes things unpredictable. Washington Latin, for example, operates out of three different churches on 16th Street NW, the leases on two of which are up in a year. Eventually, Washington Latin wants to have 650 students, and applied for Rudolph Elementary in Petworth, which has sat empty for four years. “The challenge is, you can’t afford a facility for a school of 450 when you’re 300,” says head of school Martha Cutts.
In part for that reason, the District is speckled with spaces built or leased by charters when a DCPS facility would have been cheaper. One example: Friendship Public Charter School bought and renovated four DCPS schools during the control-board years at a total cost of $44.8 million. It hasn’t been able to get another since, and recently bought land on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE for a new school that will cost $30 million. Paying interest on a loan will cut into Friendship’s operational budget for years to come. The land is next to the District-owned St. Elizabeths east campus, but nobody thought to connect them.
There are other missed opportunities. Many DCPS schools are under-enrolled, leaving whole classrooms unused, but charters rarely take up the wasted space. They’re also not included in most big development projects, like the Southwest Waterfront or McMillan Sand Filtration Plant. Charters sometimes can’t even open in places where there might be demand. Expensive Ward 3’s elementary schools are overflowing, but no charter school could afford to move there.
New school rises from old facility. A grade school remodeled from a middle school takes shapeSusan Palmer, Register Guard
June 13, 2012
OREGON: The lockers are gone. The front doors have extended windows so you can see even the smallest students coming and going. There’s bright new flooring, spiffed-up wood paneling and attractive built-in wooden benches. After a year of work, Two Rivers/Dos Rios Elementary School is taking shape in the Springfield School District’s old middle school on G Street, closed last year in a cost-saving measure.
You’ll have to forgive Jeff DeFranco for looking about as proud as a new parent in showing off Two Rivers/Dos Rios — or TRDR as district employees have begun to call the new school. DeFranco, the district’s communications director and facilities manager, has been shepherding the project for the past year. He’s excited that it’s all coming together, and that it will cost a whole lot less than a brand-new school — about $750,000 as opposed to $16 million to $18 million. Refurbishing the building so it will suit much younger — and smaller — students included $390,000 in bond money, which voters agreed to several years ago, to get rid of asbestos and put in new floors, as well as $50,000 in previously approved funding to replace windows. The remaining $310,000 comes cobbled together from other funds the district had on hand for maintenance and other projects, including $18,000 from the Springfield Utility Board for energy efficiency upgrades. “We redirected resources,” DeFranco said. “We didn’t increase resources.”
The school will open to kindergartners through fifth-graders in the fall. They will be coming from the much smaller and older Brattain and Moffitt elementary schools. DeFranco estimates that closing those schools and consolidating the students at one location will save the district $390,000 annually in operational expenses. The district also expects to reuse much of its equipment from the now closed schools. Rather than buying new desks and chairs to furnish the classrooms — an expense that could have run to $500,000 — the district will pull the best furniture from its recently and soon-to-be shuttered schools, DeFranco said. Because the middle school had previously been upgraded for computers, it’s Wifi-ready, meaning teachers and students can access the Internet without cables. All classrooms will be fitted with overhead projectors and pull-down screens, and each classroom is wired in such a way that teachers can set up their desks either in the front or in the back of the class. The big school — at 76,000 square feet — has long, wide-open hallways that might be daunting at first to the district’s youngest students who are used to the much shorter, narrower hallways of their older schools. But administrators are making sure that kindergartners and first-graders have the shortest distance from the school’s entrance to their classrooms, DeFranco said.
DeFranco, who is leaving Springfield to take a job at a Lake Tahoe community college in California at the end of the week, sounds proudest of the way the district went about refurbishing the school. By giving themselves a year to complete the work rather than doing it during the rush of two summer months when construction crews cost more, the district saved money, he said. By using its own maintenance employees — electricians, plumbers and carpenters, among others — the district did not have to pay a general contractor or subcontractors, although some jobs were contracted out in order to meet deadlines. Converting a middle school to an elementary school, taking a year to do the job and doing most of the work in-house makes the project a unique one in Oregon, said DeFranco, who has consulted with other districts and facilities managers across the state. “No one else is doing anything like this,” he said. The school will open to an estimated 430 students come fall. The district estimates the school can accommodate 480 students.
Aging Aurora, Colorado elementary schools receive face-lifts during summerJoey Kirchmer, Denver Post
June 12, 2012
COLORADO: Several aging facilities in the Aurora Public Schools district are receiving bond-funded makeovers over the summer months. The district is pouring about $20 million into extensive remodeling projects at three buildings, including Altura, Elkhart and Lansing elementary schools. The facilities, some of which date back to the early 1960s, were tapped for upgrades because they’re the most in need of expansion and remodeling, said Rebecca Herbst, bond communication specialist for Aurora Public Schools.
Each of the three schools is grappling with capacity issues, which has forced students and teachers into outdoor modular units, Herbst said. For instance, Elkhart Elementary is expecting more than 800 students this year, though the school was only built for about 465 students. “That part of the district is really growing right now,” Herbst said. The building remodel at Elkhart Elementary, located off East 11th Avenue and North Chambers Road, will expand capacity to 708 students, Herbst said. The school is also being outfitted with some new features, including a renovated gymnasium, kitchen, cafeteria, media center and computer lab, among other things, Herbst said. “When they come back, they’re going to be amazed,” she said. “We find that the kids take so much pride and ownership when they walk into those new buildings.” Similar work is being done at Altura Elementary, at 1650 Altura Blvd. Five new classrooms will help increase capacity at the building, which opened in 1964. The front entrance is also being remodeled to provide for better security, said Carrie Clark, principal at Altura Elementary.
The expansion will ultimately allow the school to bring more students inside. Three modular units were brought in help address overcrowding at the school, which currently has about 475 students. “Being in a mobile unit is always hard because you’re not a part of the community inside,” Clark said.
Investors Go to School on ChartersMike Cherney, Wall Street Journal
June 12, 2012
NATIONAL: Charter schools, publicly financed alternatives to traditional public schools, are drawing more than just increasing numbers of students: Bond investors also are signing up.
As charter schools have grown, their bond sales—which usually go toward financing construction of new facilities—have gotten bigger as well, a sign of rising interest from investors. And while the relatively high yields are burdening the schools with higher borrowing costs, they are proving particularly enticing to market participants at a time of near-zero interest rates.
Bond offerings of $30 million or more accounted for nearly 12% of all charter-school bond sales last year, compared to 5% in 2007, according to Wendy Berry, a former analyst at Moody's Investors Service and a charter-school finance consultant for the Local Initiatives Support Corp., a community development organization. About 10% of the new deals this year have crossed that threshold. Charter schools, which have branched out into statewide networks, are a small but growing corner of the multitrillion-dollar municipal-bond market, with nearly $4 billion in bonds outstanding.
Charter-school debt is riskier than general-obligation bonds—a category that includes debt issued by traditional public schools—because charter schools don't have the power to raise taxes like the districts overseeing traditional public schools. Also, their existence depends on staying in the good graces of regulators that approve the "charters" that allow them to operate. Charter schools get money from states based on the number of students enrolled.
Charter-school bonds on average have yielded 3.41 percentage points more than top-rated general-obligation bonds since the beginning of 2011, according to Ms. Berry. From 1998 through 2010, the average spread was 2.04 percentage points. But lately, that gap has narrowed slightly, suggesting higher demand from investors. In May, California-based Santa Rosa Academy, rated below investment grade, sold $24 million in debt, with some of those bonds priced to yield about 3 percentage points more than the top-rated bonds.
Research advisory firm Municipal Market Advisors calculated earlier this year that 3.91% of charter-school bonds are in default, drawing on emergency support or in violation of bond contracts. In contrast, 0.22% of higher-education bonds, 0.07% of general-obligation bonds and 0.03% of school-district bonds are in trouble.
But as more charter schools open, a smaller percentage of them are being forced to close. Some 6.2% closed during the charter renewal process in the 2010-2011 school year, compared with 12.6% two years earlier, says the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.
Audit: Seismic regulator must improve California school building plan oversightJohnson, Corey G,, U-T San Diego
June 12, 2012
CALIFORNIA: The office that oversees the seismic safety of California's public schools can't show that it has approved all building plan changes, heightening the risk that some schools don't meet standards and are unsafe, according to a state auditor's report.
The Division of the State Architect is required to review all school building plans to ensure earthquake standards are met. But a review by the California State Auditor's office found thatchanges in plans frequently aren't approved and that the regulatory office lacks processes to track the alterations.
The report urges regulators to improve their handling of school "change documents" to lessen the possibility of contractors erecting an unsafe building. The report states: Regulations require that the school districts’ design professionals submit plan changes to the division for review and approval before undertaking related construction. However, several holes in the plan change process create a situation where the division cannot demonstrate that it has approved all plan changes before the start of related construction, risking construction that does not meet building standards and that may be unsafe.
In fact, the division’s Project Certification Guide states that there have been many instances where the field change process was not followed and change orders did not receive division approval, yet construction was completed. In a letter to the auditor, Fred Klass, director of the Department of General Services, pledged that new rules would be implemented by the end of the year that would assure "all relevant plan changes are received, reviewed, approved and documented by the division." The general services department is the parent body of the state architect's office.
California law requires the state architect's office to enforce the Field Act – seismic regulations for schools that were enacted nearly 80 years ago. The law is considered a gold standard of construction, and it requires oversight from state regulators to ensure professional engineering and quality control from the early design phase to the first day of classes. The Field Act grants these regulators "the police power of the state" over the construction of public schools. "The (department) is firmly committed to effectively and efficiently overseeing the plan review functions performed by the (state architect's office)," Klass wrote. "As part of its continuing efforts to improve that process, the (department) will take appropriate actions to address the issues presented in the report."
Window washers bring a shine back to campus buildingsSusannah Brooks , University of Wisconsin-Madison News
June 12, 2012
WISCONSIN: From the inside of each campus building, most people probably see out of a few windows each day. The condition of those windows makes a huge difference in the way they see the world. Bascom Hall, for example, boasts a stately multistory façade dating back from the mid-19th century. The shape and molding of the windows enhance the building’s historic character; some of its windows have up to 12 panes apiece. That charming façade features over 450 windows – and someone has to clean them all.
Campus Services is the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s go-to crew for odd jobs. The same people who manage interdepartmental mail delivery and move furniture also clean nearly every window across campus. How many windows is that, exactly? Thousands, says Dave Grueneberg, supervisor of Campus Services.
Cleanings take place in all types of weather. Five guys take window-washing duty on each side of campus, fitting in cleanings around duties such as changing lightbulbs and hauling supplies for tradesmen. On this day, the east side crew arrives fresh off of work at the Extension Building, on Lake St. Given their other responsibilities, they estimate that the job will take them about a month.
Budget cuts over the last decade have extended the cleaning schedule to a seven-year rotation; however, departments hoping to decrease the gap can pay for more frequent touchups.
The variety of building on campus poses multiple challenges. Individual panes on hundred-year-old windows take more time than the wide expanses of glass on more modern buildings. Five-piece storm windows with ancient clamps can drop on workers without warning. Air conditioners, metal grates, concrete window wells and flaking paint can complicate each job even more.
In the past, many taller buildings, such as Van Hise Hall and Educational Sciences, had spinnable windows that allowed the cleaners to work from the inside. But deteriorating mechanisms and permanent –screwed-in – storm windows mean that now the cleaners must use a bosun’s chair or suspended stage.
Regardless of height, the basic tools are a wand, water and squeegee. Extended handles and scrubbing pads are necessary on tough spots, covered in bug residue and cobwebs. “We’re all pretty set on the tools we like to use. I like the wand,” says Rick Neustadter, who also professes a love for the drivable lift. “Don’t lie!” laughs Stan Gudgel, whom Neustadter calls Gudgel the “master of the electric chair.” (Ben Olson, one of the crew’s senior members, likes ladder work.)
Other buildings aren’t quite as tall, but offer unexpected obstacles thanks to architectural whims. The newest tower of the Chemistry Building has a stage setup for cleaning its glass face, but varied rooflines prevent it from moving to another side. Helen C. White’s overhangs prevent top-down access. Helen C. White, among other campus buildings, also suffers from heavy etching. Water runs off of the concrete block, depositing lime residue on the glass. It won’t come off without an acid, which is caustic for the workers and damages the frame, so they typically do their best with normal tools. Given construction, safety upgrades and a seven-year cycle between cleanings, every job is new. The men give great credit to Grueneberg, their supervisor, for keeping safety first, inspecting the equipment regularly and not sending the crews to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. “They’ve probably done some windows three or four ways,” says Olson. “Birge had these old hooks; people used to climb out the window onto a little parapet, hook a belt around them and lean back." Figuring out the logistics can take more time than the cleaning itself. When it happens, though, the difference is clear. The people on the inside get more light and a new perspective on the world outside.
Beyond the bottle tax. Funding stream for school construction represents a promising new start for BaltimoreEditorial Board, Baltimore Sun
June 12, 2012
MARYLAND: The preliminary approval of an extension and increase in Baltimore's bottle tax is a welcome sign that the city is committed to addressing one of the most significant long-term drains on its vitality: a system of decrepit school buildings desperately in need of renovation, modernization and replacement. But as important a step as the City Council is taking, it must not be the last one for the city. The bottle tax by itself is expected to raise about $10 million a year — a pittance compared to the system's estimated $2.8 billion in needs. The city's leaders are demonstrating a commitment to taking politically difficult steps to address this problem. Now they and their counterparts in the State House need to demonstrate a willingness to take some creative steps to maximize that effort.
Ms. Rawlings-Blake, the council, school officials and the city's legislative delegation need to bring some urgency to their efforts to find alternative means to finance improvements for the school buildings. During this year's General Assembly session, city schools CEO Andrés Alonso pitched an ambitious plan to leverage the bottle tax and existing state and local construction funds to back a bond issue of more than $1 billion. The idea was modeled after similar efforts in other states, but it represented a significant departure from the way school construction has been funded in Maryland, and the matter was set aside for a summer study. A group examining the issue is set to hold an organizational meeting on Monday.
At the very least, the General Assembly needs to enact legislation that will allow the city to dedicate the revenue from the new bottle tax — which would not go into effect for a year — to school construction. Such a law would facilitate the use of the money to back bonds and allow the city to leverage its new revenue stream to do more construction work up-front. The study group is also required to consider the creation of an independent school construction authority to manage the projects. Such a structure could help create economies of scale in construction projects and could clear up confusion about how responsibility for repaying any bond issues is divided among the city government, school system and state.
Meanwhile, Mr. Alonso needs to release the results of a survey he commissioned of the city's school facilities. The $2.8 billion estimate is based on a study conducted by the ACLU and others, but Mr. Alonso's survey is expected to include proposals for closing and consolidating underutilized schools or ones whose conditions have deteriorated so far that they are beyond repair. School closings in the past have typically been fraught — communities tend to prefer that someone else's school be closed — but this time, the system can legitimately hold out the promise that parents and students will really get something new and better.
Above all, city and state leaders need to make sure the bottle tax leads, as quickly as possible, to shovels in the ground. Years of decline have led to general cynicism about Baltimore's ability to improve itself, but the sight of a new school rising in the city could begin to change that. Baltimore's high taxes are generally a disincentive to city living. But this one, if handled properly, could make Baltimore attractive to a whole new generation of families, and that would more than overcome the cost of a few more pennies on a bottle of soda.
LEED Gold Certification Awarded to the Orchard School LibraryPress Release, Virtual Strategy Magazine
June 12, 2012
CALIFORNIA: The Orchard School library has been awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). The school's new library, constructed by Blach Construction Company, represents the third K-12 public school building in California and the first in Santa Clara County to be awarded the Gold designation for new construction.
"We had a clear vision of building a library that was communal, modern, and inspiring for 21st century learning, while ensuring it operated efficiently and affordably," said Jackie Felbinger, Director of Educational Services for the Orchard School District. "We are pleased to offer students a facility with environmentally friendly design elements that support the healthy learning environment our students deserve."
The 6,000 s.f. library is located at the center of the campus and links the elementary and middle schools. The building includes full-height glass, a natural wood screen, and houses shelving for the 18,000-volume collection. The library also features a new technology lab for up to 36 students.
"We are extremely honored to have played a part in broadening the culture of sustainability at Orchard School," said Ken Schroeder, Project Executive at Blach Construction. "It is not often that public K-12 facilities incorporate sustainable features that meet the high USGBC standards. I hope that this project sets a precedent for many more such environmentally-friendly school buildings in the future."
The building's LEED Gold certification is a result of sustainable design and construction features that positively impact the project itself and the broader community.
New high school designated as a Groundwater Guardian Green SiteRichard O Jones, Middletown Journal
June 11, 2012
NEW JERSEY: The new Edgewood High School has been designated as a Groundwater Guardian Green Site by the Groundwater Foundation as a result of the groundwater-friendly practices being implemented. The building, which will open to students in the fall, is in a unusual situation because it has no storm water leaving the site, said district spokesman John Thomas. “All storm water must soak down into the soil and become a part of the Great Miami Buried Valley aquifer,” he said.
Because rainwater falling on the site would reach the wells of Miller Coors Trenton Brewery and Southwest Regional Water District on Morganthaler Road within a year, the location is “extremely groundwater sensitive,” Thomas said.
By not storing, handling or using, pesticides and/or fertilizers, the school is practicing a no-application location. In addition, between the parking lots bioretention areas with native plant species have been installed in place of dry wells that typically permit surface water pollutants to enter the ground water uninhibited.
The project also involves a land laboratory which the science teachers wanted on the northwest corner of the property. “There is also a ditch that receives 200 acres of agricultural drainage on that side of the property,” said Terry Stephens, retired Edgewood High School Earth Science Teacher and chair of the Butler Soil and Water Conservation district. “We’re diverting water from that ditch into a low lying area with vernal pools, micro pools, plug plantings, prairie plantings, and possibly an oak savannah.” The surface water entering the property will then flow through soil layers, sand filters, plant assimilation and through native wetland plants before it enters into the final basin that infiltrates into the ground, according to Stephens.
This land lab will also serve as a hands-on area for everything from botany, biology, hydrology, environmental issues, plant sciences, engineering design, soils and more for the school district. Edgewood is the only high school and one of only 130 sites in the nation that has received this designation. “It is perfect that it is a public school,” Stephens said. “The school is going to be able to use it, the science classes are going to be able to test it and build it into their curriculum.”
New Jersey Colleges want voters to OK bondsBob Jordan, Daily Journal
June 10, 2012
NEW JERSEY: New Jersey college officials say they’re ready to launch an all-out campaign to convince lawmakers and voters to approve more than $3 billion in new borrowing by the state, with the money going toward campus upkeep and construction of classrooms, lecture halls, science labs and other infrastructure improvements. Bonding would help keep a lid on soaring prices for tuition and fees, officials said. State residents at the public four-year colleges now pay an average $11,620 for a year of classes — up from $1,901 in 1990-91, with costs for capital improvements cited as a major driver. A bond issue would shift construction cost burdens from students and their families to statewide taxpayers — a risky political bet, because New Jersey already carries more than $38 billion in obligations.
New Jersey is home to 12 four-year public colleges and universities, 19 community colleges and 26 private institutions. Together, the schools have a wish list of 300 construction projects that would cost $6 billion if fully built out, but Montclair State University President Susan A. Cole said the schools are prioritizing. “We understand that’s a bit too big a lump for the state to swallow, but we think it’s realistic to talk about handling about half of what’s needed to start,” Cole said.
Cleveland schools' bond issue eroded by spending on necessary repairsPatrick O'Donnell, The Plain Dealer
June 09, 2012
OHIO: In constant search of more money for daily operations, the Cleveland school district has chipped dollars away from the $335 million school renovation and construction fund that voters approved 11 years ago.
The shifts are all legal and there are no indications that the Cleveland schools have spent any money from the Issue 14 bond issue on anything other than school repairs and construction. But a few budgeting decisions involving Issue 14 are eroding its power and costing taxpayers because every dollar of that bond issue not spent on state-approved school construction projects means the district loses out on a two-for-one match from the state. All together, about $63 million that could have qualified for that match has been used for other purposes, amounting to more than $125 million in state money the district has lost out on – and which voters counted on when they passed the bond issue in 2001. Using the bonds instead of the regular budget also costs taxpayers more because there is interest on the bonds, some lasting as long as 23 years.
District officials say they know the practice isn't cost-effective or in the district's long-term interests, but immediate repair needs and multi-million budget deficits force their hand. "Nobody likes it, but it's our reality," said Patrick Zohn, chief operating officer of the district. "You'd much rather have the matching funds, but given our circumstances, you have to look at what's in the best, safe interests of our students and teachers."
School district Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon said the district has stayed true to the goal of Issue 14 -- fixing and maintaining buildings -- by balancing emergency repair needs with attempts to maximize state contributions, all amid constant budget troubles. Without drawing on Issue 14 for the repairs, he said, the district would have to make significant operating cuts. "We'd have less money for teachers and books and paper and all that stuff," Gordon said.
Even after using money for immediate needs, Issue 14 has already paid to renovate or replace 32 of the district's 86 school buildings, with several more projects on the way. One recent shift of Issue 14 money involves $7 million that the federal government reimbursed the district through a stimulus package for interest that Issue 14 paid on $55 million worth of school construction bonds. Instead of putting that money back in the construction fund that paid the interest, and where it would qualify for the state match, the district this winter chose to use the money to reduce its budget deficit – then estimated at $66 million for next school year. But the majority of the shifted money fits the pattern of many districts with financial troubles. The Cleveland schools have skimped on the budget for maintenance of its aging buildings for decades, using the money on teachers and other items instead. That makes Issue 14 bond money the fallback when buildings crumble and roofs fail. In the last several years, the district has spent $56 million of Issue 14 money – money meant primarily to build new schools or do major renovations - on repairs that aren't part of the construction plan and don't qualify for the state match.
Success of school bond measures in California raise officials' hopesDiana Lambert, Sacramento Bee
June 09, 2012
CALIFORNIA: Pollock Pines Elementary School District and 22 other California school districts accomplished an unusual feat in this week's elections. Each passed a general obligation bond. "We are very pleased," said Kevin Monsma, superintendent of the Pollock Pines district. "Sixty-two percent support is a nice response from the community."
Strapped by years of budget cuts, school systems are looking for money to patch roofs, update air conditioning and heating systems, and bring advanced technology into classrooms. 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.
But on Tuesday, 23 of the 32 school bonds that appeared on the ballot passed, bringing in $1.86 billion for schools. Pollock Pines was the only district in the greater Sacramento region with a bond proposal on the ballot Tuesday.
Voters seem to be having a change of heart over the last year, approving 71 percent of general obligation bonds on the ballot last November and 72 percent on Tuesday, said officials from the consulting firm School Services of California. "It really goes to show the level of community and local support going to schools right now," said Cathy Allen, the San Juan Unified district's senior director of facilities and planning. "They are willing to open their pocketbooks if the money goes to local school districts."
Districts still on the fence about whether to move forward with a bond in November are taking notice. School officials from San Juan and Sacramento City Unified called the election results encouraging. "There is no question that the passing of these bonds in this week's election and recent elections shows that local communities are willing to invest in schools. That's something we're paying attention to," said Gabe Ross of Sacramento City Unified, which is considering a bond for the November ballot.
Mesa, Arizona Public Schools to seek $230 million bond for repairs, technologyCatherine Creno, The Republican
June 08, 2012
ARIZONA: Arizona's largest school district has a building-repair crisis. Six of Mesa's 84 schools were built in the 1950s and 10 in the 1960s. They and many other district buildings need improvements ranging from new chillers for air-conditioning to plumbing and roof repairs. But the money isn't there -- unless school officials take it away from other programs, including classroom activities. "We are out of bond funds and we have no (state) building renewal funds," explained Bobette Sylvester, assistant superintendent for business and support services.
But Tuesday, Mesa schools' governing board backed away from putting a recommended $285 million bond for school repairs and new construction, buses and classroom technology on the Nov. 6 ballot. All five board members expressed worry that if they ask voters to approve too large a bond, the district could wind up with no money at all for school repairs. "We have to make sure this can pass," said board member Mike Hughes. "If it were to fail, it would be catastrophic for the district."
Late last year, the board appointed a 40-member panel of citizens and district employees to come up with a 10-year plan to repair and, in some cases, rebuild many of the district's aging 84 schools. In April, the 2012 School Facilities Committee recommended that the board put a $285 million 10-year bond plan on the ballot. During the committee's discussions, an elections consultant reported that 69 percent of the Mesa district's "high efficacy" voters, those who are on a permanent list to receive early mail-in ballots or who voted in the May 2010 sales-tax election, would support a bond in the next election. When asked what they viewed as important uses for bond funds, 94 percent of those polled by the consultant said computers and technology for instruction; 92 percent said better heating and cooling systems; 84 percent wanted improved school security and better classrooms for science, art and music; 73 percent advocated for new school buses; and 64 percent wanted improved athletic facilities.
On Tuesday, however, after the board discussed the economy and Mesa's conservative political climate for nearly an hour, member Michelle Udall suggested that the bond be cut back to $230 million. The vote in favor was unanimous. The revised plan still includes funds for the district's short-term construction, transportation and technology needs, but eliminates money that would have been earmarked for technology, buses and new elementary and junior-high buildings in 2018 and 2019. School officials said if the $230 million bond passes, it will cost voters approximately the same amount per month -- around $5 -- as a $285 million bond but will be paid off in five years instead of eight.
As recently as 2008, Mesa could have turned to the state's School Facilities Board for money for building repairs. Created in 1998, the board's mission was to give districts money to build new schools and remodel old ones so that they did not have to use bond money for school construction. But after the economic downturn, the state Legislature stopped funding the program. For the past four years, Mesa has requested slightly more than $17 million annually from the state for building repairs -- but has received zero. Sylvester said her staff will request $750,000 this summer to repair school sewer lines and the ceiling at Mesa High. She is not optimistic the district will receive any money, which means it will have to tap into its general fund. Superintendent Michael Cowan told board members Tuesday that he expects the state building renewal funds to remain part of a "political volleyball game" for the near future. A small amount of state money is available to very low-income school districts, but it is allocated "in a triage fashion for the most ill-shaped facilities," Cowan said.
Oregon's green portable classroom effort advancesChristina Williams, Sustainable Business Oregon
June 08, 2012
OREGON: Portland State University is moving forward with its effort to build green portable classrooms with a finalized design and plans to build the first two prototypes this summer. The effort, launched in response to the demand for portable classrooms, is an Oregon Solutions project — carrying the support of Gov. John Kitzhaber. Partners include Blazer Industries of Aumsville, the company that will manufacture the first two classrooms using donated materials, along with Portland State’s Department of Architecture, the Green Building Laboratory at PSU, the Institute for Sustainable Solutions, the American Institute of Architects, State of Oregon Building Codes Division, Portland Public Schools and Energy Trust of Oregon, among others.
"This Oregon Solutions project is successfully creating affordable, healthy, and green modular classrooms,” Kitzhaber said in a statement. “I’m pleased that starting this fall, students in the Pacific Northwest will benefit from improved learning environments that are built right here in Oregon." Two large national distributors of mobile buildings have committed to purchase a prototype. M Space of Park City, Utah, will display their unit at the Greenbuild 2012 conference in San Francisco this November. This unit will eventually make its home in Portland so the team can study the building’s performance while in use as a classroom. The second classroom is being purchased by Pacific Mobile and will be installed at a school in Chehalis, Wash., where the company is based.
The classrooms — dubbed SAGE for Smart Academic Green Environment — are designed to use half the energy of a typical modular building. Design features include: A heat recovery system for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. More windows to increase natural lighting. Better air flow. A steel floor structure that improves portability and reduces overall cost.
The green portable classroom will cost about 20 percent more than a typical portable classroom building, but is designed to have lower operating cost and be a better learning environment. "This will be the healthiest affordable modular classroom in America," said Margarette Leite, architecture professor at Portland State, in a press release
Need for Portland school bonds is still thereEditorial Board, Portland Tribune
June 07, 2012
OREGON: Portland's major school district had grown accustomed to hearing the city's generous voters say yes to its requests for money. So last year, when voters actually rejected just such a request, school leaders were forced to take a step back and consider what had gone wrong in the relationship between the voting public and Portland Public Schools.
It would have been relatively easy for the school board and administration to shrug off the defeat -- which came with the narrowest of margins -- as the result of a poor economy. But we are pleased to see that district leaders dug deeper instead, and are now on a path to present voters with a revised construction bond measure that promises to be propelled by a firmer and broader coalition of supporters.
As reported by the Tribune's Jennifer Anderson in last week's print edition, the May 2011 defeat of a $548 million bond measure resulted in the school district forming a Bond Development Committee of 31 parents, teachers, students, elected officials, business leaders and construction and design experts. This group has helped shape four alternatives, any one of which could potentially be forwarded to November's ballot.
Each of these four options would begin to accomplish what everyone knows must eventually be done: rebuilding or replacing PPS's aging and inefficient school buildings. This is not a task that can be completed with one or two bond measures. It must be an ongoing process, requiring a series of bond measures during a period of decades.
The job of upgrading nearly all of the district's 81 schools is so large, in fact, that it is discouraging to consider just how little of it can be done with the $411 million to $539 million being considered for a bond proposal.
Support for California's school bond measures unevenScott Martindale, Orange County Register
June 06, 2012
CALIFORNIA: A $54 million bond measure rejected by Brea Olinda voters is one of 12 such initiatives statewide to fail Tuesday as voters rejected requests for school facilities funding in a weakened economy. At the same time, nearly a third of California's 34 school bond measures in Tuesday's election passed muster with voters, including a $28.8 million bond measure in the Anaheim-based Savanna School District.
The overall voting patterns on school bond measures indicate Californians remain generally supportive of their local schools, despite the state's high unemployment rate and weak economic growth, according to an analysis Wednesday by the California-based School Innovations & Advocacy group. The group, however, noted that the failure of some key bond measures marked a departure from recent past elections. "Since the recession took hold, local voters have been surprisingly strong in their support of school bonds – although Tuesday's election showed some limits to that trend," School Innovations & Advocacy said.
High Schools Go Green to Save Some GreenKelsy Sheehy, USA News Education Report
June 06, 2012
NATIONAL: Schools may be closed for summer vacation, but they aren't getting a break from funding cuts. In fact, lawmakers in many state capitals aren't arguing over whether to trim education funding, but how much to cut. Illinois, for instance, cut $161 million in state aid for schools in a 2012-2013 budget approved last week. Oregon's Beaverton School District cut 344 jobs, eliminated elementary school art and technology teachers, and either cut off or decreased funding for several other programs this week in order to compensate for reduced state funding.
For high schools struggling to fill holes in their budgets, investing in energy efficiency may be the least of their concerns. But it should be near the top of their priorities, says Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools, part of the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit group. "This is something you can't afford not to do," Gutter says. "A green school … is actually one of the only opportunities, in a moment when budgets are already stretched so thin, to be able to unearth funds that are available for the taking." By turning off lights, powering down computers, and optimizing heating and cooling systems, schools can drop their average utility bills by as much as 25 percent, Gutter adds.
Installing motion sensors on light fixtures and swapping out light bulbs for more energy-efficient models, as well as other green enhancements, helped Loveland High School in Ohio save $350,000 in one year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Loveland was one of 26 U.S. high schools recognized as a Green Ribbon School by the Department of Education and the Center for Green Schools. In total, 78 schools—50 percent of which serve high poverty areas—were honored for their commitment to the environment.
Officials at another Green Ribbon School, Gladstone High School in Oregon, created a Green School Club, which helped shave $250 per month off the school's electrical costs by conducting energy audits.
Empowering students to take efficiency into their own hands has proved successful at other schools as well, says Gutter. "We've seen green energy patrols and we've seen green teams," she says. "These kids become militant about encouraging teachers and students to turn off the lights when they leave classrooms, [and] to power down devices when they check out for the day." Some schools even negotiate with their boards to retain a portion of the savings generated by their green teams. "A lot of times, those savings go into a black hole," Gutter says. "But students have that unique opportunity to say, 'Can we get a party out of it? Can we use it to buy new laptops for our classroom?'" Instilling green habits in students, such as recycling, composting, and turning off devices, can have an impact on the entire community. Many students also implement their environmentally friendly behaviors at home, Gutter says. "The ripple effect of this goes well beyond the school itself and spreads across the entire community."
Mesa Public Schools to seek $230 million bond for repairs, technologyCathryn Crano, The Republican
June 06, 2012
ARIZONA: Arizona's largest school district will ask voters to approve a $230 million bond this fall to finance repairs to aging schools and to purchase buses and new technology for classrooms. The bond request is one of the largest in Arizona history. But Tuesday, the Mesa Public Schools governing board was careful to make sure it was not the largest. Tucson Unified School District voters approved a $235 million bond in 2004. "I don't want people to say we are going out for the biggest bond in the history of Arizona. It's not the time," said board member Mike Hughes. "We have to make sure this can pass. If it were to fail, it would be catastrophic for the district."
District officials told the board Tuesday that the district likely will dip into its general fund this summer to make $750,000 in repairs to school sewer lines and to the ceiling of the Mesa High School, part of which recently fell onto the gymnasium floor. "We are out of bond funds and we have no (state) building renewal funds," said Bobette Sylvester, Mesa Public Schools assistant superintendent for business and support services. Officials said Mesa can no longer rely on the state's School Facilities Board to pay for repairs and upgrades to its buildings, six of which were built in the 1950s and 10 in the 1960s. Created in 1998, the facilities board's mission is to give school districts money to build new schools and remodel old ones so that they did not have to use local bond money. But after the economic downturn, the Legislature has channeled few dollars to the program.
In April, a board-appointed committee of citizens, students and district employees recommended that the district put a $285 million bond on the Nov. 6 ballot. That plan included more money for school renovation. But board members Tuesday decided this year is not the time to ask for such a large amount of money
School closure, construction decisions draw desegregation complaint in Jefferson ParishMark Wallerf, Times-Picayune
June 06, 2012
LOUISIANA: The plaintiffs from the Dandridge school desegregation lawsuit in Jefferson Parish, which the school system finally settled last year almost five decades after it started, now are charging that recent decisions to close campuses and forego construction of an arts wing at one location violate the settlement. In a notice sent to school officials Tuesday, relatives of the original filers and the chairwoman of the system's desegregation task force argued the moves disproportionally affect black students.
OP-ED: Should We Really Be Tearing Down Our Old Schools?Maureen Neeley, Long Beach Post
June 06, 2012
CALIFORNIA: Last year, and then again as recently as May 1, the Long Beach Unified School Board voted unanimously to begin the death knell for our city’s amazing collection of historic school buildings, starting with the demolitions of Cecil B. DeMille School (1956 – Kenneth Wing, Architect), Newcomb School (1963 – Hugh Gibbs, Architect) and Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School (1935 – George Kahrs, Architect).
Funded by Measure K, the LBUSD is undertaking a plan to bring our schools up to today’s educational standards. On the surface, this seems like a great idea and one which we can all support. A deeper review, however, reveals that the district may be taking the easy way out. The plan for the future seems to adhere to the traditional and uninspiring scorched-earth policy of demolish and re-build versus renovate and rehabilitate.
The current (2008) Facilities Master Plan calls for the demolition or major renovation of over 30 schools. Many of these are historically and architecturally significant, considered historic resources under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The vast majority of Long Beach schools were built or rebuilt after the 1933 Earthquake, using Federal funds issued by the Public Works Administration (PWA - a New Deal program). Prior to 1933, school construction was governed by local building codes. After the earthquake, the State of California passed the Field Act in response to public outcry over the vulnerability of school buildings to earthquake-related damage. The Act directed the State Division of Architecture to develop and enforce regulations to ensure earthquake resistant structures; this led to State oversight of school construction through the establishment of a building code and construction inspection for schools. Those schools that have been (re)built after 1933 adhere to these stricter codes.
Long Beach has one of the most fortunate schools districts in California. The district was the recipient of an abundance of Federal funding to rebuild the earthquake-damaged schools – a real boon to our economy during the midst of the Great Depression of the 1930s. As a result, we have a nearly pristine collection of over 30 schools built in the Art Deco or Streamline Moderne style. Many of these schools incorporated Federal art, a heritage of the New Deal art program under the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The Federal art projects in Long Beach were strongly influenced by contemporary issues, and included murals, sculpture, mosaics and relief elements. These monumental public art pieces would be cost-prohibitive to replicate today.
Farming on the Campus QuadKelly Slivka, New York Times
June 05, 2012
NATIONAL: Picture the archetypal college campus: venerable Gothic stone buildings, maple leaves aflame in autumn colors and students lounging with books on a wide, open lawn. Grassy quadrangles are staples on most college campuses. But maybe all that soil can be put to a different use: a handful of colleges and universities have planted small student-run farms on formerly grassy areas in recent years. This seems to raise the broader question of whether the quad, which gobbles water and fertilizer but produces very little, is outmoded in an era of sustainable thinking.
Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vt., for example, has just finished turning the front lawn of one campus building into a garden for its Lawn to Edible Garden project. “We’re trying to bust open the notion of what a front lawn might look like,” said Philip Ackerman-Leist, an associate professor at the college who directs the project. He said the reason that Americans like grassy lawns so much is the country’s British roots. “The notion of the lawn is an import from the well-grazed areas of the British Isles,” he said, joking that a herd of sheep might be even better suited for a college quadrangle than a garden. Mr. Ackerman-Leist said 25 students had built their college garden in five days as part of an Edible Landscaping class. They focused on aesthetics and on limiting costs. “It’s difficult to eat local and buy local and do it on a budget,” he said, so the project teaches students and others in the community how local food can be produced right on the lawn.
Similarly, students at Duke University started the Duke Campus Farm in 2010, and much of what the farmers produce is served in Duke’s own dining halls. That same year, students at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, began a project that they call permaculture (permanent agriculture), turning a quarter-acre of campus lawn into a vegetable garden..
The Class Is Always Greener: Columbia’s Manhattanville Campus Earns Top Sustainabilty GradeMatt Chaban, New York Observer
June 05, 2012
NEW YORK: With the exception of a deadly construction accident in March, things have been fairly quiet on the western front of Harlem. Starting nearly a decade ago, Manhattanville became one of the most hotly contested corners of the city, as Columbia University first worked to have the neighborhood rezoned for a new 17-acre campus, approved in 2007, followed by the state leading an eminent domain case on the school’s behalf to repossess the land of two local business owners, which culminated in 2010. (Since then, the city’s focus has shifted south, to another university-led redevelopment.)
All the while, Columbia has gone about the work of creating the most environmentally progressive neighborhood in the entire five boroughs, all from whole cloth.
Last week, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded Columbia’s new campus with LEED ND Platinum, the highest rating in the council’s new-ish neighborhood development program. It is only the fifth project in the state to earn such recognition, and the first to achieve LEED ND Platinum. The designation means that the project has embraced the goals of accessibility, density, design and environmental efficiency, creating a model for future development. “We like to think of it as a three-legged stool: environment, economy, equity,” Jason Hercules, director of the LEED ND program, told The Observer. “Manhattanville excelled in all three.”
LEED ratings have become a practical necessity for any new development in the city, ranging from university buildings to office towers to luxury condos. Even novel projects, like single-family homes, are pursuing this sheen of green, and thanks to Local Law 86, every new city building achieves the rating as well. Now, to broaden its influence and further promote dense, sustainable growth throughout the country, the Green Building Council created the LEED ND program. Developers get points for everything ranging from transportation proximity to clean construction practices to the size of the blocks within the development—bigger ones tend to encourage out-of-scale superblocks.
Columbia’s Manhattanville plan, created by SOM and Renzo Piano, entered the program five years ago, shortly after the rezoning was approved by the city. “Because of our serious commitment to sustainable design, we wanted this project to be seriously considered from the start,” said Joseph Ienuso, senior vice president for facilities. “It’s a very rigorous process, we’ve been working on it five years.”
The campus actually served as a pilot project for the council, helping it to refine exactly what criteria would be used to rate other neighborhoods in the program. “Theirs was a project that fit well with the goals of the program,” Mr. Hercules said. “It was a shared learning experience.” (This involvement had no bearing on Columbia’s receiving of the highest rating, Mr. Hercules said.)
“This is a milestone for Columbia not only because we are building a future in our home community in New York,” university president Lee Bollinger said in a statement, “but because we are doing so with a commitment to the best urban planning principles and the highest quality architecture that reflect both the core values of city life and the fundamental need for a more sustainable society.” Manhattanville gets considerable points for many of the factors that make Manhattan and the rest of New York an inherently sustainable place to be, such as compact blocks, diversity of building types and proximity to robust transportation options. Still, Mr. Hercules said these do not guarantee a project scoring well or even making the cut. “Otherwise everything would be LEED certified,” he said. “Somethings are easy in New York, others are hard.”
Affordable housing is a big one. Critics have complained that there was not enough in the university’s plan, and while it could not include any within the project, there is ample faculty housing (cutting down on commutes) as well as a $1 million affordable housing fund that will help seed local projects. But those features are fairly standard. It is the more innovative commitments that pushed the Manhattanville campus to outperform others, such as a promise to build a minimum of 84 percent of its buildings to high sustainability standards (LEED Silver or above). An innovative below-grade service network, that keeps maintenance and delivery work off the streets, was given favorable marks. The possible inclusion of ferry service from the pier at 125th Street was another highlight, as were job training programs both within the campus and without. “There’s a balance that needs to be made when new and larger projects come in,” Mr. Hercules said, touching on the topic of gentrification that some locals feel remains unaddressed. “But the program considers all of these issues, and we feel this project made steps in the right direction.”
One of the most unique features of the Manhattanville project, especially given its size and the fact it will be in progress for decades, is the commitment to clean construction practices. This involves everything from acoustical baffling added to extra-high construction fencing, which combined keep down noise and debris from spreading into the neighborhood, to using low sulfur fuel in the construction equipment. “One thing that’s pretty obvious when you’re at our site is you don’t see the puffs of black smoke you see at a lot of other construction site around the city,” Mr. Ienuso said. The equipment is also washed down before leaving the site, so as not to track dust throughout the neighborhood. “These things may seem small, but they add up,” Mr. Ienuso said.
Green’s the New Crimson for Harvard Athletics: Department Installs the School’s Largest Solar ProjectLauren Landry, BostInno
June 05, 2012
MASSACHUSETTS: Harvard hit an environmental milestone last summer, becoming the first higher education institute to complete 50 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications for projects around its campus. Then, the University’s green projects covered 1.5 million square feet, but an announcement made today just upped the ante.
Harvard’s just installed their largest solar energy project on the roof of the Gordon Indoor Track and Tennis building, according to the Harvard Gazette. With 2,275 solar photovoltaic panels on the 1.5 acres of roof space, the entire project is expected to create 591.5 kilowatts of electricity from the sun’s energy — saving nearly 480 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the Earth’s atmosphere. By 2016, Harvard’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas by 30 percent.
The solar panels, and the energy that’s produced by the solar panels, will be owned by Harvard Athletics. Heather Henriksen, director of the Harvard Office for Sustainability, told the Gazette, “Harvard Athletics is showing that sports and sustainability go hand in hand.”
New uses sought for closed Pittsburgh Public School buildingsJoe Smydo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
June 04, 2012
PENNSYLVANIA: With scores of vacant and abandoned houses, Homewood didn't need to lose a city school, too. Yet a reorganization of neighborhood schools closed the Belmar school building about a year ago, and it has become one more obstacle to the neighborhood's revival, said Councilman Ricky Burgess, who last week suggested that the Pittsburgh Public Schools develop a comprehensive plan for marketing closed school buildings.
Under that plan, he said, the district should devote as much energy to selling or repurposing buildings in poor, struggling neighborhoods as it does in affluent or up-and-coming neighborhoods. He acknowledged that it would be a difficult balancing act because of market demand, but said neighborhoods must receive equal treatment. "I'm certainly willing to be part of that conversation," Mr. Burgess said.
The issue likely will grow in importance. Long faced with declining enrollment and financial problems, the school district has 15 vacant school buildings now. Another seven will be empty after another round of school closings this year. Spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said the district is considering a new marketing plan for disposing of closed buildings. After announcing plans to close the Reizenstein building in bustling Shadyside, the district quickly found a buyer -- developers of the Bakery Square development right across Penn Avenue. The sales price, approved in November, was $5.4 million.
The district also has succeeded in repurposing some buildings in more troubled neighborhoods. It sold the Ridge Avenue school on the North Side to Light of Life Ministries for $1.1 million and is leasing the former Columbus middle school, also on the North Side, to the Propel Northside Charter School. But Mr. Burgess said other closed buildings are "desolate islands" and a "testament to urban decay." According to a 2006 inventory by A+ Schools, an education group, at least one of the district's closed schools, Gladstone in Hazelwood, has been vacant for more than a decade. Jim Richter, executive director of Hazelwood Initiative, said Gladstone is in poor condition now. He said Burgwin, which the district closed in 2006, and St. Stephen, a former parochial school, are in better shape and better poised for reuse.
Belmar is one of two vacant city school buildings in Homewood, Mr. Burgess said. In addition, the nonprofit Community Empowerment Association moved into the former Holy Rosary school building about a year ago and is attempting to buy it from the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese.
Rashad Byrdsong, Community Empowerment founder, said closed school buildings have the potential to be centers of economic and human development -- places where new businesses are incubated, children attend after-school programs and social service programs are offered to adults. He said government subsidies, or rent from private-sector tenants, could help support the centers. Mr. Burgess isn't the only city official trying to nudge the school district to do something with closed schools. Councilman Bill Peduto wants to set aside $5,000 to study possible uses for the Schenley high school building, closed in 2008 for maintenance reasons. The historic structure occupies a prime spot in Oakland. Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith said the West End Alliance and Community Design Center of Pittsburgh plan to study possible uses for four closed or soon-to-be closed city and parochial school buildings in western neighborhoods.
$1B-plus construction tab: A peek inside 9 planned or proposed projects at University of MichiganKelly Woodhouse, Ann Arbor.com
June 04, 2012
MICHIGAN: The building boom at the University of Michigan shows no sign of abating, with the tab for current and upcoming construction at the Ann Arbor campus edging past $1 billion. The school is undertaking $460 million in current construction projects — including the $163 million retrofitting of the old C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital facility and the $116 million renovation of the 800-plus-bed East Quadrangle dormitory. It has another half-billion worth on the horizon.
U-M is in the early stages of planning a $250 million investment in non-revenue sports facilities, $150 million in large dormitory renovations over a two-year period and $140 million in classroom and lab building upgrades. The university is also contemplating building a $180 million to $250 million pathology building, or a portion of that building.
Continued construction costs add to a surge of new buildings and infrastructure upgrades on the Ann Arbor campus. U-M recently finished the new $754 million Mott children's hospital, a five-year project and the most expensive in the school's history. Additionally, the new $145 million Stephen M. Ross School of Business opened in 2009, new classroom and dormitory building North Quad opened in 2011 after $175 million in construction, and a renovated and expanded U-M Museum of Art opened in 2009 after $42 million in construction. The Law School is also experiencing new construction. A new academic Building and Commons addition were completed in 2011 and a $39 million renovation of the Lawyers Club is currently underway. After four years and $226 million in renovations, an upgraded Michigan Stadium opened in 2010. New hockey, football and basketball scoreboards were purchased in 2011 for a combined $20 million. Construction on Al Glick Field House, a $26.1 million indoor football practice facility, completed in 2009.
"We have infrastructure on campus that is continually [getting] old and needing to be upgraded," Jerry Schulte, U-M associate director for construction and design, said during the Washtenaw Contractors Association annual meeting in May. [Article continues with a rundown of nine major current or proposed projects on the horizon at U-M]
Obama Administration Officials Host National Recognition Ceremony for First-Ever U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon SchoolsPress Release, Department of Education
June 04, 2012
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Senior Administration officials honored the first-ever U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) this morning at a ceremony held in Washington, D.C. Among the inaugural honorees are 78 schools that represent 29 states and the District of Columbia. The program was developed by the Department with support from the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), several other agencies and dozens of non-profit stakeholders.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined White House CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin to address the honorees and congratulate them on their achievements. Representatives from winning schools received plaques and banners in recognition of their high achievement in saving energy, reducing costs, providing healthy learning spaces, and offering education geared toward the challenges of the 21st century.?
"These schools represent a broad portfolio of urban, suburban, and rural communities, working to provide students with a high-quality, well-rounded education, healthy living, clean environments and best practices for reducing our environmental impact," said Secretary Duncan. "Green Ribbon Schools are an inspiration and deserve the spotlight for embodying strong examples of innovative learning and civic engagement."
"By embracing 'green' these schools have demonstrated their commitment to incorporating environmental practices in education," said White House CEQ Chair Sutley. "The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools winners honored today are taking bold steps to increase environmental awareness that will have an impact on the health of America's students and create the next generation of environmental stewards."
The U.S. Department of Education released a document with highlights from the 2012 honorees. Along with the awards, Secretary Duncan also announced the first installment of the Green Strides Webinar Series to help all schools move toward reduced environmental impact, improved health and effective sustainability literacy — the three 'Pillars' of the Green Ribbon award.
"Every child should have a safe and healthy place to learn, and every parent should have confidence that sending their child to school in the morning doesn't mean exposing them to environmental threats," said EPA Administrator Jackson. "These Green Ribbon Schools are making our schools healthier places to learn, and giving students hands-on STEM learning opportunities that show them how the environment connects to their own lives. Those experiences will be valuable to their future, and ours."
"The Green Ribbon Schools program is a wonderful example of our overall National Prevention Strategy to increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life," said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Benjamin. "These schools show us how we can make health and wellness a part of our children's everyday lives."
In 2012, more than 350 schools completed applications to some 30 state education agencies. Schools will have another opportunity to apply to their state education agencies for their nominations to the Department this winter. Next year's program criteria will be published this summer for states to develop those competitions and will require state agencies to submit their nominees in early 2013. Fourteen states have already indicated their intent to nominate schools in the next round of the competition.
Performance contract delivers energy savings to Florida A&M UniversityStaff writer, GovPro
June 04, 2012
FLORIDA: Tallahassee, Fla.-based Florida A&M University (FAMU) has signed a $12.2 million performance contract that will save the historically black college and university (HBCU) about $1.2 million in equivalent guaranteed annual energy savings. The school chose Buffalo Grove, Ill.-based Siemens to implement the contract. In 2009, FAMU contracted with the company on a $2.4 million project that introduced the energy efficiency and financial benefits of performance contracting to the school.
The new 18-month project, which began in May, includes several facility infrastructure improvements, including a steam system infrastructure renovation, an advanced solar-thermal heating system for the swimming pool, central chilled water and steam plant improvements, building automation improvements, and ventilation and dehumidification improvements for the library. “Our first project with Siemens gave us the opportunity to see first hand the financial and operational effectiveness of performance contracting,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons. “We are moving forward with Phase 2 — a project that will yield tremendous energy savings and support campus sustainability measures far into the future.”
Because plans call for partial decentralization of the steam heating plant and the implementation of other facility improvement measures to campus buildings, energy savings will be sizable. For example, natural gas consumption will be reduced 42.6 percent, which represents an annual equivalent savings of $706,204. Electricity consumption will be reduced 12.1 percent, creating nearly $564,000 in equivalent cost savings on top of reductions and savings that came from implementing Phase 1.
The Tallahassee, Fla., campus, which encompasses 156 buildings and 3.9 million square feet, is home to 13,284 students and the largest HBCU in the country. Over the 18-month project, 21 area boilers will be installed in individual buildings. According to FAMU administrators, just a small portion of the steam plant project would have required a capital budget expense of more than $5 million — a cost that FAMU would not be able to bear without the financial support of the performance contract. As it stood, the steam system was running at a high rate of pressure just to serve one building. Installing area boilers at the dorms and science buildings enables the university to shut down the steam system during the warm-weather months (six months each year). Other improvements include chiller plant optimization via Siemens Demand Flow optimization software, which will increase chilled water system efficiency and capacity.
To ensure central command and control of the majority of campus facilities, Siemens building automation systems are being installed in 14 buildings (one-third of the buildings on campus). That integration will support efficient operations and provide energy consumption transparency through an energy management control platform — technologies that will support and sustain FAMU’s educational mission into the future.
School construction nears finish line; facility transition that is unlike any in the history of JISD.Staff writer, Jacksonville Daily Progress
June 01, 2012
TEXAS: School district personnel are busy preparing for a major facility transition that is unlike any in the history of JISD. In fall of 2010, Jacksonville voters approved a $49.865 million bond package that would address phase one of a long range proposed plan by a citizens’ facilities committee, formed to examine the needs of the district in light of its aging buildings. East Side Elementary was built in 1939, and Joe Wright was opened in 1954. While both structures were well maintained over the years, age had finally caught up with them and they were deteriorating rapidly. Fred Douglass Elementary students started eating lunch at around 10 o’clock in the morning due to the limited cafeteria space, and high school students were left with inadequate space in their cafeteria, band hall and science labs. The passing of the bond allowed JISD to proceed with building two new elementary campuses and planning extensive renovations to two existing schools in the district.
The JISD Board of Trustees selected Pogue Construction as the Construction Manager at risk. On June 30, 2011, 733 bids were taken from 413 subcontractors. The guaranteed maximum price (GMP) was accepted by the board for the construction of each new elementary school was $13.9 million for the new East Side Elementary and $16.5 million for the new Joe Wright Elementary. After the buyout of contracts from sub-contractors, JISD realized the total was overestimated and it would save $748,184. The money saved is now going toward the furnishing of the new schools and to fund alternate projects. According to Brian Rose of Pogue Construction, East Side is currently 63.4 percent completed with an expenditure of $8.84 million. Tiling work has begun and roofing is 98 percent completed at the site. Work at Joe Wright is 70 percent completed with an expenditure of $11.5 million. Administrators and staff at both of the existing campuses are preparing for major moves this summer. Meanwhile, construction crews work to meet the ambitious goal of opening both schools for the first day of school of the 2012-2013 school year. “We are excited for our teachers and staff,” Superintendent Joe Wardell said. “But, we are really thrilled for our students who will get the benefit of attending these new campuses.”
While the two new campuses are being built, major renovation projects at Fred Douglass. Voters authorized JISD to enlarge the Fred Douglass Campus by building a new cafeteria, converting the existing cafeteria to classrooms, and enlarging the library. Due to the savings on construction costs, a new regulation-size gymnasium, connected to the new cafeteria, will also be built. Additionally, the existing skylights in the building and the existing driveways at the site will be replaced.
The renovations at Jacksonville High School include a new cafeteria, repurposing the current cafeteria for use as a band hall, converting the current band area to classrooms and choir area, building a new academic wing consisting of eight science labs, and increasing the safety and security of students by building hallways to connect the main building with the new cafeteria and repurposed cafeteria building. Among those projects, JISD has also voted to add two rooms for life skills, a food service lab, a Wenger instrument music storage area and an elevator for the new band hall. “The savings we realized with the great pricing we received on the two new elementary schools allowed us to actually deliver more to the community than was promised in the initial bond proposal,” Wardell said. Rose reported to the JISD Board of Trustees earlier this month that the work at Fred Douglass is 14.2 percent finished $870,000 of the $6,158,812 GMP. High school construction projects are currently 7.9 percent completed $1.14 million of the $14,304,583 GMP.
With two major campus moves, the current East Side school campus demolition, the opening of two new schools on the first day of school, and continued construction taking place at two other sites, officials say it will be a busy summer. “It makes it easier to handle the various challenges that are bound to come up with so much activity going on at once,” Wardell said “We just keep in mind the exciting payoff of having the modern facilities for our students and staff when the work is completed.”
Safer route to school for Melrose studentsTony Britt, Lake City Reporter
June 01, 2012
FLORIDA: Students who walk or ride their bikes to school at Melrose Park Elementary can expect to travel through a safer school zone route next school year. The Florida Department of Transportation is funding improvements at Melrose Park Elementary as part of the Safe Routes to School program. The entire project, which includes new electronic signs, flashing lights, new sidewalks, resurfacing and restriping roadways is estimated to cost about $237,250.
“The project was requested by the school’s principal, Joe Adkins, and had been brought to the attention of the Columbia Traffic Safety Team,” Busscher said. “We are using federal Safe Routes To School funding. The program encourages kids to walk or bicycle to school.”
LEED Gold for $25.5M Greenwich Country Day School Designed by ARCStaff writer, Citybiz
June 01, 2012
CONNECTICUT: The new, 70,000-square-foot building designed by ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge for the Greenwich Country Day School (GCDS) in Greenwich, Conn., has received LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The new Upper School academic building on the Greenwich Country Day School campus was built by Turner Construction Company in two phases between the start of 2009 and the fall of 2011. The 3-story building is part of a larger master planning project envisioned by ARC to expand the school campus while retaining its small-scale residential feel. The phased construction sited on the existing building footprint allowed the school to maintain its intimate ambience while maximizing open space.
Achieving LEED Gold status involved numerous design considerations; among them the use of water efficient landscaping, recycled and regional building materials, and daylighting in over 80% of the building's spaces. The daylighting credit was achieved with a design concept to create a sunken courtyard at the back of the building, allowing daylight to reach the basement level academic spaces. Additional credits were awarded for energy optimization; the building is calculated to be 48% more efficient than the baseline standard. The new Upper School building also received "Innovation in Design" credits for their green housekeeping program; by diverting more than 95% of construction waste from the landfill by recycling; and through the use of the school as a teaching tool, incorporating aspects of the school's design, such as carbon emission reduction, into part of their science curriculum.
Watertown's Aging Schools May Need Major RenovationsCharlie Breitrose, Watertown Patch
June 01, 2012
MASSACHUSETTS: With elementary schools running short on space and schools as much as 90 years old, Town Councilors said they want to start talks soon with Watertown school officials about making major renovations to the town's schools. Watertown's enrollment is expected to increase by 84 students next year, and most are coming into the elementary schools, said School Committee Vice Chairman John Portz. "It may get higher, and the area where we could see an increase is in kindergarten," Portz said. "People are moving into to town and enrolling into school."
Superintendent Jean Fitzgerald said new programs in the district, such as those for special education programs, take up space in the schools. School officials have made efforts to use space more efficiently, she added, including eliminating offices for some teachers and others so they can be used for other purposes. Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis said she is concerned about where students will go if enrollment keeps rising. "How much enrollment can we see at the elementary schools and the middle school?" Kounelis said.
School Business Services Director Jack Loughran said some of the schools have been in town for generations. "There are some significant birthdays this year," Loughran said. "The older part of the middle school 90 years old, the older part of the Lowell School is 85 years old and the older part of the Phillips Building is 75 years old." Improving facilities has been discussed by a School Committee subcommittee, said School Committee member Michael Shepard, but not by the whole School Committee. Kounelis said talks should start "sooner rather than later."
Town Council President Mark Sideris said he thinks a plan must be created soon. "The schools are an average of 72 years old," Sideris said. "This is more than just enrollment. We need to look at it as a comprehensive package because it could have a significant impact on this community."