NCEF News summarizes and provides links to news stories about educational facilities nationwide. Links to older articles may no longer be active.
Berkeley Schools Spend $85 Million on Construction, More on the WayDoug Oakley, Oakland Tribune Mercury
August 22, 2012
CALIFORNIA: The 9,000-student district is in the midst of a building boom not seen in at least 10 years to the tune of about $85 million and funded by generous Berkeley property owners. Since the Loma Prieta earthquake spurred Berkeley voters to fund construction for creaky old schools 23 years ago, the district has collected a half-billion dollars in taxes for construction, said school district spokesman Mark Coplan. The result is that right now, Berkeley school construction projects are just about everywhere you look. Berkeley High School alone, with over 3,000 students, is benefiting from over $48 million in construction projects currently under way. The larger projects at the campus include a $9 million football stadium building, a $3.7 million baseball field, $30.4 million for 15 new classrooms, a new softball field and new football field bleachers and nearly $1 million for three new science labs. The baseball field a few blocks from the school on Derby Street is one of the most important behind the 15 new classrooms "because it has been on people's radar for a long time," said Lew Jones, director of facilities for the Berkeley school district. Named after former baseball coach Tim Mollering who died of cancer in early 2010, Mollering Field has been talked about for at least 15 years and is finally under construction. For years, Berkeley High has played its baseball games on a field in San Pablo Park, which has no outfield fence. Coplan said another project which is in the design phase and which will have a major impact on the district is the $7.7 million classroom expansion project at Jefferson Elementary School on Ada Street. "Jefferson will impact the whole district because it will help us to better distribute our students," Coplan said. He said the increase in classroom space at the school will help take pressure off it and other elementary schools that are overcrowded. Other notable projects underway include: A $14.7 million project at the West Campus building on University Avenue that includes new administration offices and two teacher training classrooms; $6.7 million project also at West Campus that includes new classrooms for the REALM charter school; $2 million for a new school board meeting room, also at West Campus; and $1.2 million project to replace the roof and add solar panels to Berkeley Arts Magnate School.
A+ in sustainability. New schools feature high-tech, eco-friendly componentsSarah Palermo, Concord Monitor
August 13, 2012
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Drip-drip-drop. There's a tiny faucet in the mechanical room of the new Abbot-Downing School with a steady stream of crystal-clear water dripping out of it these days. The water falls only a few inches, to a drain in the floor and then down into the building's filtration system.
It's not a leak; the faucet is dripping condensation removed from the air being pumped into the school as part of the high-tech air exchange system. It dehumidifies the air in the summer and will heat it in the winter using renewable energy from Concord Steam. The system also has a heat recovery system to recapture energy from the air before expelling it into the cold outdoors.
Along with a few dozen other features, the system qualifies the building project for a potential $1.6 million extra in state aid. Abbot-Downing, on South Street, is one of three new elementary schools opening in Concord later this month, as part of a $55 million, multi-year consolidation effort. The other two buildings are Christa McAuliffe School downtown and Mill Brook School on Portsmouth Street. The district was automatically eligible to receive state reimbursement for 40 percent of the construction costs, but by following guidelines from the Collaboration for High Performing Schools, or CHiPS, the schools are eligible for an extra 3 percent.
District officials expect the system to help them save on energy costs down the road, but haven't finalized models yet on how much. But CHiPs is about more than just energy efficiency, said Ed Murdough, administrator for the Bureau of School Approval and Facility Management at the state Department of Education. "One of the things we liked about CHiPS . . . is that it's strong on the healthy environment standards. It includes things like quality acoustical standards, access to quality daylight," he said.
"There are all kinds of studies that indicate the increased productivity from a good environment. If (students) are too hot or cold or they can't see or hear or breathe, the teacher is fighting a losing battle." Since the state adopted the standards in 2005, nine schools have been certified, a small but gradually growing chunk of the schools built in the state, Murdough said. State legislators ended the extra funding initiative earlier this year. To qualify for the extra 3 percent in state aid, the districts needed to meet 39 mandatory standards - things like adoption of a policy prohibiting idling cars outside the school - and at least 30 out of 81 elective standards, for a total of at least 69 points. Concord applied for between 74 and 79 points for each building, Murdough said. Concord School District Director of Facilities and Planning Matt Cashman said the school board weighed all of the possible point options carefully before deciding which to pursue. "A lot of them cost a lot to achieve, and you have to take a look at your return on investment. . . . There were things we chose not to do, even though they were really neat features, because the return on investment was not there," he said. For example, some schools install photovoltaic windows that capture heat from the sunlight and send it to fuel cells that heat water.
Sounds cool, but "they were very expensive, and it takes a long time to pay off. We decided with what we were doing with Concord Steam and with skylights and other things, we can still achieve what we need to achieve without having to do that kind of investment," he said.
Funding moratorium clouds school building future in PennsylvaniaMark Scolforo, The Mercury
August 13, 2012
PENNSYLVANIA: A $300-million-a-year state program that helps school districts pay to construct or renovate buildings will soon be closed to new projects, at least temporarily, as state officials decide if it needs to be changed or eliminated.Some districts are rushing to get their plans into the pipeline before the October start of a nine-month moratorium that was quietly enacted along with the state budget earlier this summer.
School districts already under financial pressure from growing pension obligations and state funding cuts are eyeing the moratorium warily, concerned that it could be the first step toward eventual elimination of the so-called PlanCon reimbursement.
PlanCon refers to the Education Department’s “Planning and Construction Workbook,” a complicated review that runs from justifying the need for a project to designing it, acquiring the land, building it and paying for it. “We’re really in this incredible squeeze because we’re just trying to get through operational costs, much less construction costs,” said Jay Himes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials. “Without some state support, those building projects are going to be more and more and more difficult.”
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett first raised the idea of a moratorium when he proposed a 2012-13 budget in February, but what eventually passed was scaled back so that it did not take effect until October and covered only new projects, not those already in the PlanCon pipeline.
The funding for the current year remained level — there are about 230 projects currently in PlanCon — but the moratorium is likely to mean that less construction and renovation will get under way in the coming years. “Right now it’s a money thing,” said Steve Miskin, spokesman for the House Republican caucus. “Let’s see what needs to be done — does it need to be improved, what do we need to do or not do?” One possibility is that the funding formula, under which more affluent districts get less support, could be changed. But it’s also possible the entire program will be shut down. Corbett’s budget materials from February framed the coming study as a “review of the role of state government in this area of school district operations.” “It just gives us a breather for these eight, nine months,” said Education Department spokesman Tim Eller. “To look, A, if this is something the state should be doing, and B, if any changes need to be done.”
Districts will still have pressing needs for construction and renovation, no matter what the state does with the PlanCon program, said Dave Davare, research director for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. Some are currently scrambling to get in under the Oct. 1 deadline, and recent news accounts have reflected a struggle by some districts to make plans amid the uncertainty. “We’ve got some districts with some very old buildings,” Davare said. “Then you also have some districts that, if the economy turns around, could end up being growing districts and are going to need classroom space.” Chris Wakeley, a senior Democratic staffer on the House Education Committee, said as districts pull back for the time being, that will reverberate within the construction industry. “Any time you put the word ‘moratorium’ in, that sends a message to school districts: hold up, don’t construct, put it off,” Wakeley said.
Eller said the moratorium does not prevent a district from starting a project that does not require state support. “I should say everything’s on the table, whether the state gets out of the business entirely, of the reimbursement process,” or changes it, Eller said.
Special Report: Rebuilding America's SchoolsBarry Yeoman, PARADE Magazine
August 12, 2012
NATIONAL: The average public school in this country is more than 40 years old—and showing its age. Roofs leak, walls are ridden with termites and lead paint, and rooms are chronically overcrowded. PARADE looks at two communities that remade their schools—and the lessons they can teach all of us.
Construction Among New York City Institutions, Especially Schools, SlowsCarl Gaines, Commercial Observer
August 10, 2012
NEW YORK: New York City’s higher learning institutions as well as its public schools have recently seen a sharp decline in new construction projects, according to a report released Thursday by the New York Building Congress. The report, based on NYBC’s analysis of McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge data, charts a 41 percent decline in projects undertaken by public and private institutions in the city—down to $704 million in the first half of 2012 compared to the same period a year earlier.
Construction starts by this group of institutions— including elementary and secondary schools, colleges, universities and hospitals—has historically been a much larger piece of the overall puzzle. For instance, educational institutions made up over half of the overall value of construction starts during the period from July 2008 through June 2012.
The underlying trend is one seen in other areas of commercial real estate in the city—where the challenge of financing new construction and the city’s aging stock of buildings abut.
“New York’s public and private institutions have continued to invest, but at least for the time-being, the general focus has been on upgrades to existing structures rather than brand new facilities,” NYBC president Richard Anderson said in a statement about the findings. “When we analyzed the list of top 10 projects from each sector over the past few years, we noticed that the majority occurred between 2008 and 2010.”
The School Construction Authority, which oversees design, construction and renovation projects in the over 1,200 New York City public school buildings out of offices in Long Island City, lists over 50 current projects on its Web site in Manhattan alone. Of these, only a few are for new sites. The bulk are for rehabs, improvements and repairs. Still, Mr. Anderson indicated that he thinks brighter days are ahead. “These are truly exciting times for New York’s colleges and universities,” he said. “The determination of these bedrock City institutions to build for the future is critical to our industry and the region. In the short-run, these projects mean construction jobs and economic activity, which are especially needed right now. More importantly, these investments will ensure the universities’ and the city’s continued vitality and global competitiveness, while also preparing the next generation of New York’s leaders and innovators.”
The NYBC noted that the city plans to invest $2 billion for school construction over the next fiscal year and $2.4 billion the following, the last in its current five-year plan.
With 31 projects underway, Fairfax County, VA school construction sprints to make deadlineHolly Hobbs, Washington Post
August 09, 2012
VIRGINIA: George C. Marshall High School is the scene of organized chaos: construction trucks, hammering and clinking, workers in hard hats everywhere you look. Those are the signs of summertime school construction, which kicks into high gear this month when workers fight the deadline of completing as much as possible before students return to classes Sept. 4Marshall High in Falls Church is one of more than 60 Fairfax County public schools undergoing construction this summer. Although some of the projects are less involved, Marshall, which opened in 1962, is entering the second year of a $70.4 million renovation, which will add 80,000 square feet to its current 284,000. The renovation is on schedule to be completed during the 2014-15 school year, school officials said.
Inside the school, “there’s no acoustical ceiling. All of the innards are exposed. .?.?. There’s a lot of workers,” Marshall Principal Jay Pearson said. “But on the first day of school, you’ll see a cleaned-up version of that. The floors will be shiny.” The school’s gym and locker rooms will open to students this fall, with administrative offices scheduled to open in October, along with a two-story science addition, said Kevin Sneed, director of the school system’s design and construction services. “It’s not going to look anything like the Marshall they are used to,” Sneed said. “The parking has been moved. There are additions on either side; so they’ll have some temporary main entrances.”
Marshall is home to about 1,680 students. Additions and renovations will allow for as many as 2,000 students to attend the school. “We designed it for 2,000 students, with extra seats,” Sneed said. “But it looks like Marshall will grow to about 1,950 kids in the next five years. So thank goodness we did that.”
Pearson said a school under construction means extra forethought for students. He gives this advice to returning students: “You’ve got to plan your day. If you’re going outside to a class that’s in a trailer, know the weather [forecast]. .?.?. I’ve got to give the kids credit. They’ve really adapted well. “Our first big midyear shift will take place in mid-October/November, where we will gain access to that new space,” Pearson said. “All our science rooms, art rooms and business and marketing [classes] will come online, so we’ll move all those classrooms around. .?.?. We’ll be just shuffling people around.”
This summer, there are 31 schools with major construction projects similar to Marshall’s, including two new schools, both recently completed. New schools have the added challenge of hiring staff members and buying supplies and furniture while construction is under way. “In the next couple of weeks, boxes of materials will be unpacked and placed, plans for school opening celebrations will [be] finalized, and signage for outside will be completed,” said Marsha Manning, principal of the new South County Middle School in Lorton, which will include staff members from the now divided South County Secondary School, solely a high school this fall. Construction costs were about $22 million.
Village of Ridgewood and its schools put energy into solar panel plansLaura Herzog, Ridgewood News
August 09, 2012
NEW JERSEY: Plans to make village facilities and schools more environmentally friendly - and save money - are moving forward. Solar panels are currently being placed on Village Hall, and the village's sustainability vendor has started construction at the Water Pollution Control Facility, according to Village Engineer Chris Rutishauser. This construction is part of a project to lay down solar panels at the facility and also create a combined heat and power plant to convert bio-gas into energy. Foundations are being excavated and the plant is under construction, Rutishauser said.
A second project is also under way, with solar panels being installed on the roofs of Somerville School and Ridgewood High School (RHS), according to Superintendent Daniel Fishbein. The project will continue into the school year, he said, and panels will be installed on all district schools in varying amounts with the exception of Willard School, which has a roof considered less suitable for panels. The project was initially slated to begin in late March, but the vendor was waiting on financing from PSE&G, Fishbein noted. "Unfortunately ... different layers of approval take time," he said in an interview last month.
The solar panel installation on village facilities is part of a 20-year contract signed last December with its energy vendor, Ridgewood Green RME, LLC, which is paying about $4 million to complete the project, Rutishauser said. The schools' project is being conducted by a different vendor. The new partnership, in which Ridgewood Green sells the energy generated by the solar panels back to the village, will save Ridgewood money, according to Rutishauser. Ridgewood Green will charge the village 12 cents per kilowatt, whereas the village's current power supply and delivery costs are 14 to 16 cents per kilowatt, he noted. Rutishauser was unable to estimate the likely annual savings, which he said will depend on the power-rate market and how much energy the project produces.
For Back to School, Reimagine Classroom DesignTherese Jilek, MindShift
August 08, 2012
NATIONAL: As the school year begins, most classrooms across the country will mirror traditional class design: rows of desks with passive children sitting quietly listening to a teacher in the front of the class.
But not at Hartland-Lakeside. Across the Hartland-Lakeside school district in Hartland, Wisconsin, teachers have transformed their Industrial Age classrooms into innovative, state-of-the-art learning spaces. Unique spaces allow children flexibility to move, collaborate, and express themselves in creative ways. And as a result of changing the learning environment, classroom instruction changed to fit students’ needs too.
The innovative spaces were a product of teachers changing how they taught and viewed student learning. Teachers realized that differentiated methods and changing their learning expectations for students required an environment that was radically different than rows or groups of desks. Creating comfortable spaces that reflected the world outside of the classroom began to take shape.
Teachers realized that they needed to do more than rearrange the room; they needed to start over.
As teachers transformed their roles into facilitators of learning, they found that standing in front of the classroom or lecturing was no longer prudent. Teachers and students need to be able to easily move and rearrange furniture, as learning needs change throughout the day. Children need to talk to one another and collaborate with each other to make meaning of their learning; rows, even clusters, of desks, make collaboration difficult. The process of forming strong learning relationships is key to a child’s academic success.
Students and teachers work together throughout the day in many different ways. At one point, a student may be researching and need a quiet space to focus. This space is called “the cave.” In the next 15 minutes, that same student may need to pull his or her team together to share the information and plan for next steps. This dynamic is called “the campfire.” In another 20 minutes, the teacher may need to pull the entire class together to allow time for students to report back to the class their discoveries. “The mountain top” is what this type of space is called. This kind of flexible learning requires furniture that’s as mobile and fluid as the people who use them. These models are reflective of the type of work we all engage in.
This change also reflects the increased use of mobile technology to personalize learning. Rather than relying on a traditional desk full of supplies, mobile resources travel with students wherever their learning takes them.
Being green earns schools large rebateLance Cranmer, Record Herald
August 07, 2012
OHIO: A long-term plan to save Washington City Schools a significant amount of money came to fruition Monday night as Dayton Power and Light Company presented the school district with a rebate check in the amount of $213,052.88. "We have been anticipating the amount. We had several meetings in the spring and we were told how much it would be at that time," said Washington City School's Treasurer Ben Teeters. "It's a nice gift."
Teeters said the amount has been figured into the district's five-year forecast for some time now.The rebate money was made possible through the cooperation with Plug-Smart Intelligent Energy Solutions, a company that works with multiple school districts in Ohio to earn rebates for being energy efficient. "A lot of times with new schools, rebates are the last thing on your mind to go after," said Rebecca Karason, who represented Plug-Smart at the meeting. "We look at projects that may have just been forgotten about."
Teeters said that Plug-Smart approached the school district after the opening of the district's four new buildings. Plug-Smart examines the buildings for likes like energy efficient lighting, heating, cooling and things of that nature, and then helps the district find energy rebates that it may be eligible for through DP&L. "They approached us and said they thought we were entitled to some rebates," Teeters said. "We didn't think they'd find that much." The school district agreed to a contract that said Plug-Smart could take a cut of 30 percent of whatever rebate monies could be found.
"There were more rebates than we anticipated," said Teeters. Plug-Smart's cut of the rebate check comes out to just shy of $64,000, meaning the rest goes to Washington City Schools. In the future the district will receive at least one more rebate check with the help of Plug-Smart thanks to new high-efficiency lighting that has been installed in the high school gymnasium.
$325 million renovation project gets underway at Rochester, NY schoolsTiffany Lankes, Democrat and Chronicle
August 07, 2012
NEW YORK: At the city’s School 50, students have learned to play musical instruments in a sequestered corner of the hallway and a room barely a step up from a storage closet. The band is so big that all of its members don’t fit on the stage during performances. “They have to sit on the floor,” said Principal Tim Mains. But soon that will change, as construction on the biggest school renovation project in the district’s history gets started.
School 50 is one of the first schools on the list of those slated for a makeover, which will include a new gymnasium and some reconfiguring of space to create a larger library, art room and stage for performances.
Work on the first phase of the project is underway, with construction crews at Schools 17, 50 and 58 as well as the Charlotte and Franklin high school campuses. All of those projects, with the exception of School 58, will be finished in time for the start of the 2013-2014 school year. School 58, the largest of the renovation projects in the plan, will take two years. Plans to renovate school buildings have been in the works since 2007, when state legislation authorizing the $1.2 billion project was passed. The board overseeing the project is made of seven members appointed by the superintendent of schools and the mayor but operates as an independent entity. The first phase will involve $325 million in renovations to a dozen city schools. “We’ve had a lot of people working on these plans for the past four, five years,” said Jerome Underwood, the district’s senior director of operations. “Now we’re in the ground, we’re working.”
Planners considered capacity, academic programs and the condition of the facilities in deciding which schools to renovate first. The improvements will include new classroom wings to replace portables or to house new students. Some schools are expanding by adding grade levels.
At the secondary level, the designs will accommodate specialized academic programs. Like School 50, the renovations will allow some schools to expand academic programs, by reconfiguring space to create music rooms, auditoriums, modern gymnasiums and science labs. “The parents and the teachers said we want more performance space,” Mains said.
Not only will the plan improve city schools, administrators also hope it will save them the millions of dollars it costs them each year to maintain and do minor renovations on aging buildings. At the city’s School 17, the kindergarten hallway is sinking so much that in some places the wall and the floor are separating. Music class takes place in a cramped room designed for regular classes, not dozens of students and musical instruments. The kitchen at School 17 is so small that the staff cannot prepare a hot meal each day for every student.
Schools have been working with parents, teachers and members of the communities to design plans that best address these issues and meet the needs of students. “Our facilities definitely needed to be updated,” said School 58 parent Candice Lucas. “The kids have to feel comfortable in their surroundings.”
Consultant: Philadelphia district needs to close 29 to 57 schoolsKristen A. Graham, Philadelphia Inquirer
August 07, 2012
PENNSYLVANIA: Six months into its study of the troubled Philadelphia School District, a global management firm has made public its extensive, game-changing analysis and recommendations for how the system should proceed to overhaul operations and avoid insolvency.
Among the suggestions in the 118-page document, being released Thursday: The district should close between 29 and 57 schools in the next five years. It should be much more selective about charter school growth, which in the last decade has given Philadelphia families more educational options - but at a staggering cost to the district.
It should pursue massive changes in the next teachers' contract, not just reforming the salary and benefits structure but disconnecting seniority from layoffs and possibly extending the school day and year.Thomas Knudsen, the district's chief recovery officer, stressed that the Boston Consulting Group Inc. was hired to survey the education system and recommend a way out of the district's current financial and academic troubles, with an emphasis on decentralization. But "they do not in any way prescribe what we're doing," Knudsen said in an interview Wednesday. "We take the information and make judgments accordingly."
Though many of the consultant's suggestions were incorporated into an overhaul plan announced in the spring, some may be rejected, Knudsen said. Some already have been. Though the consulting firm recommended that the district should consider privatizing its facilities services, officials opted to reach an agreement with SEIU 32BJ Local 1201, the union that represents facilities employees. Work rules were changed, with millions in savings for the district and the preservation of most of the jobs of the 2,700-member workforce.
"The conclusions we reached and the way that the matter was conducted were not consistent with some of the recommendations of BCG," Knudsen said.
$10 billion for Ohio school rebuilding covers half the needCatherine Candisky, Columbus Dispatch
August 06, 2012
OHIO: More than 15 years after its creation, the Ohio School Facilities Commission has invested nearly $10 billion in state and local funds to replace and repair school buildings once rated the worst in the nation. “As it stands, we’re about half done,” said Richard Hickman, executive director of the commission. “If we are able to fund about 25 districts each year and those districts are able to secure their local share to move forward with construction, we think it will take until 2025.”
Wrought from the 1997 court ruling finding Ohio’s system of funding public schools unconstitutional, the massive construction program was created to aid all 614 school districts and 49 joint vocational districts. Starting with the poorest districts, the state has been working through a list of projects, with work beginning after local voters approve levies to provide matching funds. Overall, nearly 1,000 schools have been built or renovated since the commission was created in 1997. Funds have been offered to about 450 districts, Hickman said, with about 100 unable so far to secure local matching funds.
When the commission was approved by state lawmakers, the work ahead may have seemed insurmountable. A 1995 General Accounting Office survey of 10,000 school buildings nationwide singled out Ohio’s as being in the worst condition. State officials predicted all work on Ohio’s schools would be completed by 2012. It was an ambitious timeline and, like most construction projects, prone to delay, most recently because of the economic recession.
The poorest districts had to come up with relatively small amounts of matching funds, but as wealthier districts began to qualify and the local contribution grew, the economy stalled and voters became less willing to approve tax increases for school construction.
But Hickman said the program appears to be picking up steam again. Last month, the commission approved $1.1 billion in school construction projects for the current fiscal year, nearly double the value of projects approved last year. The 27 districts selected for funding plan to construct 43 new buildings and renovate nine existing ones, with the state contribution averaging 44 percent. “We’ve got six who already have their funding (approved) and four more lined up to go to the ballot in August and November,” Hickman said. “Last year at this time, only four districts had their funding.”
Among the districts ready to start building projects are South-Western and Lancaster schools, where voters earlier this year approved money for new buildings. In South-Western, ground will be broken next year for 13 new elementary schools, a new high school and renovations to two elementary schools. The state will provide $120 million of the $268 million for the project, with local taxpayers picking up the rest. Five new elementary schools will be built in Lancaster, with the state covering about one-third of the $88 million project. Among the new projects also is the commission’s first STEM school, the Dayton Regional STEM school, where an old store will be renovated into classrooms.
Renovations at Massachusetts Catholic school largest in school's historyMatt Camara, South Coast Today
August 06, 2012
MASSACHUSETTS: Creating new state-of-the-art facilities to propel classrooms into the 21st century is driving Bishop Stang High School's ongoing $6.5 million renovation, President and Principal Peter Shaughnessy told The Standard-Times Wednesday. "We exist in a highly competitive educational environment," Shaughnessy said. The changes will put new technology into the hands of Bishop Stang teachers and will allow the school to teach "21st-century skills" while staying true to its mission of Catholic education and character building, Shaughnessy said. The school enrolls about 700 students and charges $8,300 per year in tuition.
The renovations are the largest in the Catholic school's 53-year history and the first in the more than 20 years since the athletic fields were built. The project calls for the former convent attached to the school building to be gutted and rebuilt as a four-story academic resource center, according to the school's capital improvement campaign website. The academic resource center will be the third use for the convent building, which was built along with the school in 1959. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, who made up the school's faculty, left the convent in 1976. The structure was then used by the Fall River diocese's Office of Family Life for retreats while the upper floors were turned into office space, according to diocese spokesman John Kearns.
Construction on the new facility began in June. It will feature an entire floor dedicated to the new library with the other floors housing a common area for group work, guidance and admissions offices and additional classroom space. The building's fourth floor will be turned into art and photography classrooms, Shaughnessy said.
The entire project is funded by private donations to the capital campaign, he said. "We have been successful in raising $4.2 million toward the Academic Resource Center and our endowment," the capital campaign's website said. "Now (we) ask for your support in raising an additional $2.5 million to complete the ARC." Despite the school holding just two-thirds of the money needed, students and staff should be moving into the first three floors "sometime this school year," with the fourth floor to be finished later, according to Shaughnessy.
The capital campaign and renovations come at a challenging time for Bishop Stang, which has seen enrollment drop with the recent recession and since the new Pope John Paul II High School opened in 2007 in Hyannis. Attendance at Bishop Stang, a longtime destination for Cape Codders seeking a Catholic education, dropped to 675 for the 2012-13 school year, down from a peak of 824 in 2007, Shaughnessy said. The school's numbers have declined since the peak year, with 816 students in 2008, 785 in 2009, 742 in 2010 and 707 in 2011. The number's, however, are not as troubling as they look, Shaughnessy said. "If you go back 20 to 25 years, you'll see we're still right in the average," for enrollment over the school's history, which has peaks and valleys, he said Friday.
Students reduce lunch waste, save energyAnicie Robinson, Tallahassee Democrat
August 06, 2012
FLORIDA: When you think of reducing waste, few people consider waste reduction in the school setting. Leon County Schools have been an exception. The school district has done many things to reduce, reuse and recycle. Its most important effort, however, may be energy conservation education in every grade level.
Last school year, part of that educational effort included a voluntary Waste Free Lunch Day. Five elementary schools — Buck Lake, Chaires, Gilchrist, Ruediger and Sealey, and Cobb Middle School — participated. The idea behind the event was to capture students’ attention on reducing, reusing and recycling. Allowing students to be part of the action not only encourages them, but also brings awareness to all those involved including family members, custodians and other members of the school community.The goal was to reduce the amount of trash that a student produces from his or her lunch. Each student was encouraged to bring a packed lunch from home. Instead of putting a sandwich in a plastic bag, students were to pack it in a reusable container. Instead of using a disposal napkin or paper towel, they were to bring a cloth napkin, and a refillable water bottle instead of a juice box or pouch.
The event was extremely exciting. The students, teachers and custodial staff were part of a friendly competition to reduce waste. Teams of students at the various schools participated in a “pre-weigh-in” day. This served as the baseline; the students in the school had to know just how much waste they normally produced from their school lunch. It was an eye-opening experience. If you could see the amount of trash produced by school lunches, you would be amazed! Schools saw dramatic drops in the amount of waste produced: from 234.7 to 130.6 pounds at Buck Lake, 173 to 109 at Chaires, 310 to 218 at Gilchrist, 299 to 121 at Hawks Rise and 171 to 130 at Cobb. Ruediger had the biggest drop of all — from 166 pounds of waste to 26 pounds, reducing their waste by 140 pounds in a single lunch. Great job!
Not only was the waste reduced, so was the workload placed upon the wonderful custodians at each of the participating schools. The event was so successful that the students and custodians are looking forward to more waste-free lunch days this school year.
In the meantime, parents can reduce school lunch waste every day. You can help taxpayers save money on trash collection, give your child hands-on experience in conserving energy and help everyone involved see the benefit of reusing items rather than discarding them. Students will learn reuse means less “stuff” in our landfills and less energy consumed to produce plastics, transport garbage, etc. Finally, students will learn that they can be part of a global effort.
Education Department Awards $11 Million in Grants to Support Charter School FaciPress Release, U.S Department of Education
August 06, 2012
NATIONAL: The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced three grants totaling $11 million awarded to a nonprofit organization, a State entity, and a consortium of nonprofits that are working across the country to help charter schools obtain facilities through purchase, lease, and donation under the Credit Enhancement for Charter Schools Facilities Program (Credit Enhancement). One of several grants under the Office of Innovation and Improvement’s Charter Schools Program, the Credit Enhancement program helps to improve educational options for students and parents by targeting funds to areas with the greatest need for public school choice.
Under the Credit Enhancement program, awardees may use grants to leverage funds to help charter schools construct and renovate school facilities, guarantee and insure leases for property, and identify potential lending sources for charter school facilities.
“Adequate facilities are essential for providing a high-quality education and a safe learning environment,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “The Credit Enhancement program supports charter schools and gives them more financial security – ultimately helping schools to attain facilities where they can engage students in learning.”
The following organizations will receive grants under this program: Local Initiatives Support Corporation: $5,016,605; Massachusetts Development Finance Agency: $2,671,388; and Build with Purpose: $3,347,843.
Local Initiatives Support Corporation will serve schools across the country. The program will feature two strategies: 1) a National Charter Loan Fund II, which will provide direct lending to charter schools and is credit enhanced with ED funds, and/or 2) a Charter School Guaranty Fund, which will directly credit enhance tax-exempt municipal bonds, mortgages, and leasehold improvement loans for charter school facilities.
Massachusetts Development Finance Agency will help charter schools by issuing guarantees in Massachusetts on behalf of charter schools to guarantee a portion of a loan or bond made to a charter school to improve its school facility.
Build with Purpose will assist charter schools in accessing capital to enable facility projects and development in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
New Hampshire schools to compete for state construction aid. Ranking system to determine who gets funding.Staff writer, WPTZ.com
August 04, 2012
NEW HAMPSHIRE: New Hampshire ends nearly six decades of providing school construction aid to all comers when a new law takes effect this month that uses a ranking system to determine which projects get funding. The law wipes out a practice in place since 1955 that set no limits on who could get aid and replaces it with one where schools compete for limited aid dollars. The state is capping aid at $50 million annually, but only $6.2 million of that is available for new projects the first year. The rest is earmarked to pay off the state's roughly $540 million share of 360 existing projects. The rankings for the projects will be made by a six-member committee; then the state Board of Education must approve them.
Despite tough times for education, construction and renovation projects continueBeau Yarborough, Contra Costa Times
August 03, 2012
CALIFORNIA: Even as public school districts find their budgets shrinking, necessitating painful cuts to programs and staff, construction is under way at many school sites. "We've lost about 20 percent (of revenue), like most districts," said Leslie Barnes, assistant superintendent of business services for Pomona Unified School District.
For Pomona Unified, it was a double-whammy of the state's financial crisis and declining enrollment: Nearly all of a public school district's revenue comes in money from the state, based on how many students attend class on an average day. As a result, the district gave pink slips to 90 teachers this spring and 125 non-teacher staffers later in the year, although some of those employees ended up not losing their jobs, thanks to other employees retiring and other ways of saving money.
But work continues at more than 10 renovation and new construction projects around the district, thanks to a $235 million bond, Measure PS, that voters approved in 2008, before the extent of California's looming economic crisis became clear. Unfortunately, the district is restricted in what it can use the bond money for - school districts deal with a wide variety of "categorical funds" that can only be spent on specific expenses decided upon by officials in Sacramento and Washington.
Community members don't always seem to get that the money being used to refurbish a gymnasium or build a new school cannot be put in the "general fund" pool of money that districts use to pay for employee salaries and benefits. In most districts, salaries and benefits - most of them those of their teachers - make up the lion's share of what unrestricted funds are spent on, meaning that when the pot of money shrinks, there are few other places they can cut. "We did (get complaints) in the beginning," Barnes said. "We've been very transparent that this money can't be spent on teachers." "What the public doesn't understand is the different pots of money," said June Lindsey, a facilities consultant for the Banning Unified School District. Banning Unified has laid off employees this year, after last year opening a new athletic center at Banning High School. "Every district is facing those issues right now," Lindsey said. There's also a lag between the time a construction project is started and the sometimes different state of affairs when it finally opens.
‘Greener and greener’ UC Berkeley Li Ka Shing Center wins LEED GoldCathy Cockrell, UC Berkeley News Center
August 02, 2012
CALIFORNIA: Great expectations surround research to be conducted in the Li Ka Shing biomedical center, the five-story structure that recently opened on the Berkeley campus’s western edge. But for now, as the last of its 400-plus scientists establish home base in its labs and office space, the light-filled facility itself is in the spotlight, thanks to its LEED Gold certification, announced last week. “During the design the decision was made to go for LEED certification,” notes Teri Mathers, who managed the facility’s construction for Capital Projects. “We just kept making the building greener and greener.”
The Li Ka Shing Center incorporates sustainable features throughout — from its auditorium’s green roof (planted with vegetation attractive to native butterflies and bees, selected with input from the UC Botanical Garden) to reclaimed-wood paneling (harvested from a local demolished warehouse) and low-emitting office carpeting and rubber lab floors.
Early in the design process, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory were consulted to help develop and evaluate energy-efficiency options for the building, which features operable, user-controlled shutters; real-time monitoring of energy and water use, displayed in public areas; and occupancy sensors tied to the lighting system.
“The building works really efficiently,” says Mathers, “so it’s going to save the campus a lot of money on energy.” Four energy-smart cooling units alone are projected to save $11,000 a year in electricity, paying for themselves in one year, she says.
Li Ka Shing is UC Berkeley’s tenth building to earn LEED certification. At about 200,000 square feet, it brings the campus’s total LEED-certified space to more than 1 million square feet, says Judy Chess, assistant director of Green Building Programs in Capital Projects. On deck for certification in the coming months are several large projects, including Memorial Stadium, which together total another half-million square feet.
Arizona's First Net Zero School Celebrates Grand OpeningStaff writer, Market Watch
August 02, 2012
ARIZONA: Turner Construction Company, Arizona is pleased to announce that it has completed construction on the new Colonel Smith Middle School on Fort Huachuca, AZ. The school will be dedicated tomorrow, Friday, August 3 at 10:00 am. The public, replacement school is being built on the Army's leading intelligence training facility at 155 Carter Avenue, Fort Huachuca, Arizona 85670. The new Colonel Smith Middle School will be the first Net Zero Energy school in Arizona and the 12th Net Zero Energy building in the nation. Generating more energy that it consumes on an annual basis, the school is pioneering sustainable design and a unique approach to learning that engages students in real-world problem-solving and experimentation in a collaborative environment.
"This school incorporates a comprehensive opportunity for education through a quality planning, design, and construction process," states Tony Wall, Program Manager and President of 3W Management. "This is one of the great schools in America."
With an instructional focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), planners of Colonel Smith Middle School complex re-thought the traditional design of educational buildings. Facilities will support a project-based learning model with flexible common and collaboration spaces, and facilitate learning both indoors and outdoors. The 88,693 square foot school will accommodate approximately 350 students in grades 6, 7, and 8, primarily children of military families. The architect of record for Colonel Smith Middle School was Emc2 Group Architects Planners; the design architect was Fanning Howey; and the general contractor was Turner Construction Company.
State-of-the-art Iotla, North Carolina school ready for its first yearDavin Eldridge, Macon News
August 02, 2012
NORTH CAROLINA: After years of planning and a gamut of financial and developmental obstacles, the new state-of-the-art Iotla Valley Elementary School is nearly finished. The multi-million dollar facility is just days from opening for hundreds of students. Iotla Elementary’s completion wa a collective effort on the local government’s part in recent years to upgrade the county’s school system, while consolidating other longstanding schools. With the new school year beginning next week, the facility’s completion is right on time, and closes another phase in the county’s academic agenda.
As of Tuesday, construction workers were busy tying up loose ends and moving school equipment to the proper areas. Information technology professionals were busy linking up school computers to the massive built-in network contained in the school. The fourth grade area, situated on the bottom floor of the school, will be ready by September.
The $14 million school has come a very long way since workers hustled to get it into working order earlier this week. The process for the conception of the school began back in late 1996. The school has been funded and constructed through the utilization of the interoperability compact between the Macon County Board of Commissioners and the Macon County Board of Education. The $14 million debt for the cost of the school will fall solely on the county.
The new school is significantly larger than its predecessor, being approximately 94,000 square feet. In fact, it’s the largest elementary school in Macon County, according to Horton. Like all the other new schools, technology is as essential to its foundation as the new rooms, space and materials included in it now.
All throughout the school’s winding halls and corridors, the color scheme reemphasizes the school’s commitment to improved space and technological proficiency—the colors of beige, blue and red. Bell explained that the dark blue color, agreed upon by faculty, was added to the school to incorporate the colors of both Cowee Elementary and the old Iotla Elementary, the two schools that will be consolidated in the new facility.
Although the shelves of the new library have yet to be lined with books, the room itself is outfitted with surveillance cameras, computers, wireless internet and more. These features largely follow the layout and theme of the rest of the school. Included now within the library is a media room, set to handle morning announcements and audio/visual news generated by students and faculty.
Lastly, the school’s classrooms will now be arrayed with “smart boards,” taking the place of traditional dry-erase or blackboards. Basically, the new teacher’s tool is an interactive whiteboard equipped with touch detection technology for user input. An LCD projector is used to display the device’s computer video, which then acts as a touch screen. “The teacher can go to her computer, pull up what she needs during her lesson and project that on to the [smart board’s] screen,” Bell explained. “When they walk up to the board, she can start writing and teaching on the board digitally. This is an interactive computer screen for the class.”
The gymnasium, big enough to handle up to 500 visitors, according to Bell, is a clone of the gym at East Franklin Elementary and Mountain View Intermediate. Along with height-adjustable basketball goals, mechanical gym divider, electronic scoreboards and a stage large enough to hold a Broadway performance, its ceiling is also outlined with sound-absorbing boards.
One of the biggest triumphs of the facility’s construction was its geothermal heating, venting and air conditioning system.With 96 wells drilled 450 feet deep, the project cost an estimated $950,000 for the entire air conditioning system. It remains largely hidden beneath the parking lot out front, and is the second such installation, following that of Mountain View Intermediate School. “It’s like putting a radiator in the ground,” said Bell.
In essence, the geothermal system utilizes a constant temperature found beneath the earth as a heat source in the colder months or as a heat sink in the warmer months. The design takes advantage of consistent earthen temperatures, which boosts efficiency and reduces the operational costs proposed by standard heating and cooling systems.
School District's savings exceed guarantee under first year of comprehensive energy savings programRobert Perea, RGJ.com
August 01, 2012
NEVADA: The Lyon County School District saved more than $375,000 in the first year of its Energy Savings Performance Contract with Amaresco, Inc., an excess savings of nearly $30,000 over the guarantee for year one of the program, according to an update provided to the district’s Board of Trustees. Representatives of Amaresco, Inc., told the Trustees it’s savings for the first year were $375,729, which was $29,897 over the savings guarantee of $345,832 for the first year of the program. The comprehensive energy efficiency project comprises infrastructure upgrades to 19 schools and four administrative buildings, representing over 1.2 million square feet of facilities.
As part of its projects, Ameresco can facilitate financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades. Under an ESPC, it guarantees energy cost savings for the duration of the contract. The district will repay the up-front costs with a portion of their projected annual savings over the contract’s 15 years. Energy efficiency measures scheduled for completion by October 2012 include lighting systems, vending machine controls, computer power management, trash compactors, demand controlled ventilation and programmable thermostats.
Vandals damage vacant closed building costing Memphis City Schools $1 millionJane Roberts, Commercial Appeal
August 01, 2012
TENNESSEE: Vandals cost Memphis City Schools more than $1 million in a single real estate deal this week. The school board Tuesday voted to sell vacant Prospect Elementary for $210,000 – $1.14 million less than the $1.35 million it was appraised at in March 2011. School officials said everything of value in the 18-classroom school was stolen or broken, including toilets. "Someone should have been pro-active," said board member Sara Lewis, who couldn't believe the selling price.
But school administrators say budget cuts make providing security for vacant properties a hard sell. According to security estimates gathered by The Commercial Appeal, it would cost about $125,000 a year to provide 24-hour, unarmed security guard on the premises. "In terms of providing security, it takes funds to be able to do that," said Deputy Supt. Hitesh Haria. "We use those funds in buildings where children are being serviced. It is a question of the highest priority." Over four years, he said, the district has been forced to cut $250 million in operating expenses.
The board closed Prospect Elementary in 2006, but continued to use it as office space. The 39,000-square-foot building has 18 classrooms, offices, a library with built-in shelves and a cafeteria that can double as an auditorium. In the notice to bidders last fall, MCS said bids of less than $1 million would not be considered. Bids were opened Oct. 31, 2011. After the initial appraisal in March 2011, damage was reported at the site. The district ordered a second appraisal, which showed the property was worth $1.09 million.
But before bids were opened, the building was hit four more times by vandals. The lone bidder, willing to pay slightly over $1 million, rescinded when he saw the damage. "When vandals hit the first time, we put security in place for a brief period of time," Haria said. A second party offered $250,000. "When they toured it again, they rescinded the bid and would not make another offer," said Denise Sharpe, MCS director of comprehensive planning.
The ultimate buyer is D Mae International Corp., doing business as Young Man University. Lewis says district officials told her, that as late as 2010, the property was worth "many millions." "I took some people out there with a contractor because they were interested in buying the property to start a church," she said. "There was some work that needed to be done," Lewis said. "But that had been a well-maintained property. The grass was always cut. It was a choice location."
She says it's not fair that MCS abandons property "in neighborhoods people are trying to hold onto and stabilize. It makes no sense." She cited vacant Alzono Locke Elementary on St. Paul and Florida Elementary in south Memphis as examples. Alzono Locke, Sharpe said, is being demolished. The property will be transferred to Memphis Housing Authority. Florida, she said, is "under agreement" to a local church, which plans to demolish it.
Hawthorne charter plans one-stop campus: Da Vinci sees merging high school, community college, universityRob Kuznia, L.A. Daily News
August 01, 2012
CALIFORNIA: Da Vinci Charter High School in Hawthorne is angling to open a new campus in southeast Culver City with an approach so novel it might be without precedent: a one-stop-shop high school, community college and university. Under the proposal, students would attend public high school and college simultaneously on the campus of Antioch University. They'd finish high school in five years instead of four, but on graduation day would receive not one, but two pieces of paper: a high school diploma and an associate of arts degree. Students then would have the option to continue on at Antioch for two more years to obtain their bachelor's degrees at a reduced rate, although they could go elsewhere, too.
The idea behind the proposal is to address a festering problem in education that to date has gone largely unnoticed: While more and more poor and minority students are getting into college, their rate of completion remains dismal. About 55 percent of all college students never graduate, but for low-income students -- the primary target of Da Vinci's latest effort -- the proportion is closer to 90 percent, according to the Early College High School Initiative. "It's almost like taking the ball down the field from the one-yard line," said Matthew Wunder, executive director of Da Vinci Schools. "You get all the way to the (opposing team's) five-yard line, and you never score."
The new school would try to tackle this, in part by keeping college costs low. The high school diploma and AA degree would be free, and the total cost of the bachelor's degree would range from $9,000 to $19,000, depending on the income level of the student. (That's compared with the four-year cost of about $75,240 for typical Antioch students, $26,000 for students attending California State University and $50,000 for those at the University of California.) "I'm glad there's a national conversation right now about what I think was a dirty little secret," Wunder said. "Everybody knows college is expensive, but why does it need to be?" Like all California charter schools, Da Vinci's as-yet unnamed school would be available to all students living in Los Angeles County, as well as any neighboring county. However, limited space could present the need for a lottery to get in. Thus far, the plan is just that -- opening day isn't slated to occur until the fall of 2013. But the concept has already caught the eye of several deep-pocketed school-reform organizations. The proposal has attracted a $150,000 grant from a consortium of donors that includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation. Da Vinci also has received a matching-grant pledge for $300,000, meaning that in order to secure the grant, Da Vinci first must raise the same amount by the end of August. It is about a sixth of the way there. If it succeeds, Da Vinci will have $750,000 to play with, and opening day will be all the more likely to happen.
The notion of having a high school, community college and university all rolled into one has the hallmarks of the experimental approach often taken by the Da Vinci franchise, which today consists of twin 3-year-old high schools, called "Science" and "Design" (for their respective specialties), as well as a newer K-8 program called "Innovation Academy," which includes a home-school component. All three schools are located in Hawthorne, west of the San Diego (405) Freeway. The schools' newness means data on their performance remains in short supply. But early indications are encouraging. Da Vinci Science just graduated its first senior class. About 84 percent of that pilot class of 40 was accepted into four-year colleges.
There have been hiccups. Last year, Da Vinci Science and Design were disqualified from getting an API score due to a technicality: By law, sophomores must be tested in life science, but at Da Vinci the vast majority of those students were tested in chemistry instead. If the idea for the Culver City campus comes to fruition, that new school -- which would have a strong liberal arts bent -- would open with around 150 students, mostly freshmen. The school would add a grade every year until maxing out at about 750.
The vision for the new school takes advantage of a little-known clause in California public education: Students can continue to have their high school education funded by the state so long as they don't turn 19 by mid-April, provided they have not graduated, Wunder said. On the one hand, this means taxpayers are paying for five years of high school instead of four. But Tex Boggs, president of Antioch University Los Angeles, argues that the setup ultimately saves the taxpayers money, because public subsidies are what keep community college fees so low. "As a taxpayer, I'm happy with it," he said. "I'm paying for five years as opposed to six or even seven."
Officials hasten to add that Antioch University is not to be confused with Antioch College, which shut down for three years due to financial troubles but reopened in 2011. The university split off from the Ohio-based college in 2008, and the two are no longer affiliated. Though private, Antioch University is a nonprofit entity. It caters, by and large, to a population of older, nontraditional students, most of whom take night classes. To achieve the discounted rate, Antioch will try to capitalize on an experimental program that is gaining traction nationwide: free online courses, offered by a widening pool of colleges, many from Ivy League institutions such as Harvard and MIT. Anyone with a computer and Internet service can take these classes, known as mass open online courses, or MOOCS. But users aren't eligible to receive college credit for them unless they are part of a class that is headed by a mentor or instructor. Antioch plans to establish a cluster of MOOCS classes. Another aspect of the proposal involves Marymount College in Rancho Palos Verdes, which would put Da Vinci's teachers through a program allowing them to become adjunct professors. "We don't have all the answers yet," Wunder said, "but that's why they give you a planning grant to really make that happen. ... We're going to need to have this fairly well flushed out by November."