EdBrief

UC Berkeley Study:

California’s Ailing K-12 School Facilities Need Funding

By Kathleen Maclay - December 10, 2015

With forecasts of a wet California winter, findings released on November 30 by UC Berkeley’s Center for Cities and Schools may set off alarms: More than half of the state’s K-12 public school districts fail to meet minimum industry standards for annual spending on maintenance and operations, or on capital improvements like new roofs.

Center researchers took a look at 93 percent of the conventional K-12 districts in the state between 2008 and 2012, the most recent year for which data is available. They found 57 percent of the 879 districts examined fail to meet benchmarks in capital improvement spending, and 62 percent failed to reach the standards for basic maintenance and operation in that period.

Approximately 2.2 million of California’s 6 million K-12 students attend these struggling schools...

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Research Study Links Classroom Air Quality and Temperature to Student Learning and Performance

September 3, 2015

A new study conducted by researchers from The University of Tulsa’s Indoor Air Program, shows maintaining adequate ventilation and thermal comfort in classrooms could have direct impacts on student learning and performance.

Appearing Aug. 28 in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, the groundbreaking research with both national and international implications is unlike any other published to date, examining the combined effect of classroom ventilation and temperature on academic performance. Findings at a large school district in the southwestern United States reveal proper classroom ventilation and temperature could raise students’ average test scores above state standards.

The study found fifth-grade students’ math scores increased along with increasing ventilation. The estimated score increase was 74 points from the lowest observed ventilation value (0.9 liters per second/person) to the recommended minimum ventilation rate (7.1 l/s per second/person)...

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British Researcher Concludes “Clever Classrooms” Can Boost Learning by 16%

April 9, 2015

A recent British report – released in February by the University of Salford – shows clear evidence that well-designed primary school classrooms boost children’s learning progress in reading, writing and math.

Natural light, temperature, air quality, color and individualized classroom design amongst the biggest physical factors impacting on pupils’ learning progress.

This is according to the results of the HEAD Project (Holistic Evidence and Design), undertaken by the University of Salford and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The report – titled Clever Classrooms – reveals how differences in the physical characteristics of classrooms, such as air quality, color and light, can together increase the learning progress of primary school pupils by as much as 16% in a single year...

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Analysis Favors Annual Per-Student Facility Grant

New Brief from LAO Recommends Rethinking How the State Funds School Facilities

February 26, 2015

On February 17, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released a brief recommending a major revision of California’s system for funding construction and modernization of school facilities. The brief begins:

Recommend Transitioning to a New School Facility Financing Program. Many groups over the years have raised serious concerns with the state’s current school facilities program. Notably, the existing program fails to treat school facility costs as an ongoing expense despite the recurring nature of facility needs, allows disparities based on school district property wealth, fails to target funding according to greatest need, results in excessive administrative complexity, and lacks adequate accountability mechanisms. Given these issues, the Governor indicates a strong interest in changing how the state funds school facilities, though he has not introduced a specific proposal to date...

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New Committee Files Ballot Initiative Language for $9 Billion School Facilities Bond in 2016

January 29, 2015

 

Editor’s Note: Last November, Gov. Jerry Brown – who advocated for a state water bond ballot measure (which was approved by voters – opposed placing a school facilities bond on the California ballot at the same time. Now plans are afoot to place a school facilities bond on the ballot in November 2016 – though it is by no means clear that the Governor will support that plan. The following article reflects the opinion of the recently formed committee Californians for Quality Schools, which is seeking to put the school facilities bond proposal before California voters in 2016.

As California faces a multi-billion dollar backlog in school and community college construction projects, a newly formed committee – Californians for Quality Schools – filed ballot initiative language with the State’s Attorney General’s Office on January 12 to place a statewide school facilities bond on the November 2016 ballot. The last statewide school facilities bond was passed by California voters in 2006. The state’s funding to provide matching dollars to school districts that have already raised local funds for school construction projects has been exhausted...

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Energy Commission Approves $13.5 Million in Loans for Energy-Efficient Upgrades to Schools

November 19, 2014

On November 17, the California Energy Commission announced approval of $13.5 million for energy efficiency measures to 14 schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Joaquin County and Orange County during its monthly business meeting today. The Energy Commission also approved grants to four entities to develop and research alternative and renewable fuel projects.

Energy Conservation Assistance Act

Three school districts received loans through the Energy Conservation Assistance Act (ECAA), a zero- or low-interest loan program providing funds to public entities. School districts, charter schools, county offices of education, state special schools and community college districts are eligible for a zero-percent interest rate loan...

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CDE Announces Release of $8 Million to Local Educational Agencies under Proposition 39

May 29, 2014

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on May 28 that local educational agencies (LEAs) will soon receive about $8.4 million in the third round of Proposition 39 planning funds.

“Prop 39 is generating some much-needed support for modern school facilities and healthy environments for young Californians,” Torlakson said. “These projects bring together job creation, environmental protection, cost savings, and learning opportunities.”...

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Report Details Pesticide Use Near 2,511 Public Schools in California’s 15 Top Ag Counties

May 15, 2014

(Editor’s note: In late April, the California Department of Public Health issued a report titled “Agricultural Pesticide Use Near Public Schools in California.” We reprint the report’s Executive Summary below, followed by a link to the complete 73-page document.)

California agriculture produces nearly half of all fruits and vegetables grown in the United States. These foods are essential components of a healthful diet and help promote public health here and throughout the country. However, agricultural production frequently relies on the application of pesticides that, under some circumstances, can be hazardous to human health.

Compared with adults, children are more susceptible to the effects of pesticide exposure. Because of the potential public health risks to children, we examined the use of selected agricultural pesticides near public schools in the top 15 counties by agricultural pesticide use in California for 2010...

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California Energy Commission Approves First Wave of Proposition 39 Energy Expenditure Plans

April 17, 2014

On April 3, the California Energy Commission approved the first set of energy expenditure plans for projects that will be funded by the California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39). Schools in Alameda County, Temecula and Salinas will be able to use tens of thousands of dollars for classroom and school facility energy efficiency upgrades and clean energy projects.

"Proposition 39 injects millions into California's schools to upgrade aging heating, air and lighting systems," said Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. "School-by-school, these investments will boost energy efficiency, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."...

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LAO Comments on Deferred School Maintenance Projects, Recommends Development of Long Term Plan

April 17, 2014

California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released a report on April 11 addressing the maintenance of school facilities and the state’s 2014-15 budget. The report’s summary included these observations regarding current conditions and recommendations for change:

Due to a combination of poor budgeting practices and competing funding priorities, all of the state's education segments currently have a backlog of deferred maintenance projects. The Governor’s budget includes a package of proposals to begin addressing this backlog. While we commend the administration for highlighting deferred maintenance as a problem, we have concerns with the Governor's specific proposals and recommend the Legislature consider various alternatives...

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SAB Disburses $285 Million in Funding For School Construction and Modernization Projects

October 17, 2013

On Monday (Oct. 14), the State Allocation Board (SAB) disbursed $285 million for school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools throughout the state for new construction and modernization projects, said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

“These funds help support our districts with additional resources to revamp or construct new schools,” Torlakson said. “We can’t expect our children to prepare for the challenges of the 21st century when they work and study in facilities from the past.”...

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Small School Districts Face August 1 Deadline to Apply for Two-Year Cycle of Prop. 39 Funding

July 25, 2013

Small California local education agencies (LEAs) have until August 1, 2013 to apply for Proposition 39 funding covering two years, according to the California Energy Commission. LEAs with 1,000 or less prior year average daily attendance (ADA) are eligible to receive a combined funding allocation for the current and following year in the current year. The Commission is the agency responsible for collaborating with other state agencies to ensure the successful implementation of the California Clean Energy Jobs Act.

The 2013-14 Budget Act appropriated $381 million to K-12 LEAs, and the California Department of Education (CDE) has just set up an online application for small LEAs to elect to receive both the current-year and following-year entitlements in the current year...

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Data Gathered at 28 California Schools Over Two Years

Study Suggests Better Classroom Ventilation May Reduce Student Absences Due to Illness

By Julie Chao - June 20, 2013

If you suspect that opening windows to let in fresh air might be good for you, a new study by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has confirmed your hunch. Analyzing extensive data on ventilation rates collected from more than 150 classrooms in California over two years, the researchers found that bringing classroom ventilation rates up to the state-mandated standard may reduce student absences due to illness by approximately 3.4 percent.

With this reduction in student absence, California’s school districts would gain $33 million annually in attendance-linked funding and families would avoid an estimated $80 million in caregiver costs due to having a sick child at home...

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“State of Schools” Report Highlights $271 Billion Needed to Bring School Facilities Up to Working Order

March 14, 2013

On Tuesday, The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its first “State of our Schools” report, highlighting the critical need to modernize school facilities to meet current health, safety and educational standards.

The report, featuring a foreword by former President Bill Clinton, states that schools are currently facing a $271 billion deferred maintenance bill just to bring the buildings up to working order – approximately $5,450 per student.

The last comprehensive report on America’s school facilities was conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 1995...

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State Allocation Board Distributes $383 Million for New School Construction and Modernization Projects

December 13, 2012

On Wednesday (December 12), the State Allocation Board External link opens in new window or tab.(SAB) disbursed $383.8 million for new school construction and modernization projects across 110 school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools statewide, announced State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

"Our schools play a key role in California's future," said Torlakson. "These new funds provide vital assistance to local districts in the construction and rebuilding of schools, creating jobs in the community, and providing better opportunities to students for a successful future...

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Torlakson Releases Report Highlighting Path Toward More Modern School Facilities

August 9, 2012

California should focus on updating and replacing aging school buildings with schools designed to be more environmentally friendly and better suited to the needs of the next generation of students, according to a new University of California, Berkeley, report released in late July by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

The UC Berkeley Center for Cities & Schools prepared the report, titled “California’s K-12 Educational Infrastructure Investments: Leveraging the State’s Role for Quality School Facilities in Sustainable Communities.”...

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SAB's Implementation Committee Discusses Time Frame for Funding School Construction

By Dennis L. Dunston - June 14, 2012

The State Allocation Board’s Implementation Committee met on June 8 to continue the discussion on potential changes to the regulations on the priorities in funding school facilities projects.

With over $1.4 billion on the School Facility Program (SFP) unfunded lists and only $1.2 billion in bond authority left, the State Allocation Board (SAB) has been concerned about getting the money from the bond sales to the districts that can use it rapidly to create new jobs...

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State Predicts Coming Rise in K-12 Enrollment – But a Significantly Smaller Increase than Previously Predicted

November 3, 2011

The California Department of Finance on Tuesday released a new set of enrollment projections for K-12 enrollment in the public schools, predicting modest growth in the decade ahead.

“Over the next ten years, enrollment in California will experience total growth of 1.8 percent to reach 6,323,367 (students),” the report said. “While this growth will result in an overall increase of more than 112,000 students between 2010-11 and 2020-21, it represents a significant decline from prior projections series.”...

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More Women Waiting Until Their 30s to Have Children

Total Number of California Births Fell in 2010, But Projections Indicate Births to Rise in Coming Years

November 3, 2011

California’s total number of births fell to 509,979 in 2010 – which California Department of Finance (DOF) described as “a notable decline (16,795) from their 2009 value (526,774). This drop is 70 percent smaller than the substantial drop that occurred the previous year and the third largest drop since 1990.”

The long-running economic slowdown – accompanied by high unemployment and large numbers of home foreclosures in many parts of the state – is believed to be contributing to the decline in births, as some families decide to postpone having children until their employment situation and living situation are more secure...

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California Enrollment Trends

High School Student Attrition

By Vern Weber - October 20, 2011

(Fifth in a Series)

The California Department of Education (CDE) recently stated that the state’s high school dropout rate is 21.5 percent, down from a previous rate of 23 percent. These dropout rates have long been confirmed by U.S. Census data, as the 1990 census revealed that 23.8 percent of the age 25 and over population had no high school diploma or equivalency. In the 2000 census, the percentage changed very little – from 23.8 to 23.2 percent. (Census data on educational attainment for 2010 are not yet available.)

In an earlier paper (the fourth of a series of five), the public K-8 cohort numbers where presented. Historical California public school cohort movements from grade 8 to 9 and from grades 9-11 to 10-12 were the following...

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California Enrollment Trends

Migration, "Cohort" Trends Trigger Enrollment Shifts

By Vern Weber - October 6, 2011

(Fourth in a Series)

The educational community is well-versed on the concept known as “cohort-survival,” which is the movement of students through the grades from one year to the next. This paper presents K-8 cohort data for the State of California as a whole, and what those data mean for California and future enrollment in the state.

The public school cohort factor presents, as a single number, the combined effect of migration patterns, residential growth, the economy, student retention, the movement of students into and out of private schools, home-schooled students, and a host of other variables...

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California Enrollment Trends

As Birth Rate Rises, So Will School Enrollment

By Vern Weber - September 22, 2011

(Part Three in a Series)

The California birth trend is a major factor driving school enrollment trends, as most children attend kindergarten five years after their birth. Influencing the birth trend is the female population by age and the fertility rate – the number of children to be born during child-bearing years.

Historically, from a birth low of about 300,000 in the early 1970s, births more than doubled, reaching a peak of 611,666 in 1990. That significant increase in births was the driving factor in California public school enrollment, which grew steadily until peaking at 6.3 million in 2004...

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California Enrollment Trends

With "Regular" Schools, Charters, Private Schools and Home-Schoolers, Where Are Our Children Learning?

By Vern Weber - September 8, 2011

(Part Two in a Series)

Most of California’s school-age children are “officially” counted in public, charter and private schools. But what about those children who slip through the cracks — the home-schoolers and dropouts? And what are the trends?

Based on California Department of Education (CDE) records and outside estimates, in 2008-09, the State of California had K-12 students in the following categories...

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Congressman McNerney Checks Out Plans for Green Tech Academy High School at Lodi Unified

By Dennis L. Dunston - September 8, 2011

Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) visited the Lodi Unified School District on August 17 to learn more about the district’s proposed Green Tech Academy High School.

Green Tech Academy is currently being designed to exemplify energy conservation and sustainability. Two of the goals for the design are:

  1. to be grid neutral (produce as much electricity on site as the project uses over an average year)...

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California Enrollment Trends

Tired of Declining Enrollment? The End Is In Sight!

By Vern Weber - August 25, 2011

(First in a Series)

For a number of years, California public school districts have experienced enrollment declines, resulting in the need to make budget, staffing and facilities adjustments. The statewide decline began in grades K-5 after enrollments peaked in the year 2000, extended to grades 6-8 after its 2003 peak, and then into grades 9-12 after its 2007 peak.

Recent evidence, primarily changing birth trends, now suggests that the California public school enrollment decline will end in the year 2016, when K-12 enrollment will reach a low of 6.1 million – only 200,000 students below its peak of 6.3 million in the year 2004...

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Analysis

Recent Series on California School Safety Raised Interesting Questions, But Fell Short on Accuracy

By Dennis L. Dunston - April 14, 2011

You may have come across a series of recent reports by the independent news organization California Watch (done in collaboration with KQED-FM News) on the seismic safety of public schools in California.  The series was later discussed on a number of talk shows in broadcast media. Some of the stories in the series raised questions about seismic safety projects for which final paperwork had not been filed. In one of these reports the question was asked “Are our kids safe?”  And the answer that was given was “We don’t know.” 

Having examined the series, I concluded that while most of the facts in these articles are technically correct, I believe the overall conclusion of the series falls short in terms of accuracy...

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The Energy Initiative for Public Education

By Dr. Barry Schimmel and Dennis L. Dunston - February 10, 2011

There is an increasing amount of energy conservation and alternative energy information targeted at school leaders, causing many school administrators and school board members to wonder how to evaluate the options and make the right decision for their district.

Some of you reading this article will remember the national effort to fight polio in the 1950’s.  It was the schools that led the effort with information and vaccination...

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Torlakson Announces Recipients of QSCB Program

By Dennis L. Dunston - January 20, 2011

Last Friday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced the most recent recipients of the Qualified School Construction Bond Program.  Some $848 million in school district bonds will receive tax credits under this program. 

While the 61 districts that received the awards will benefit greatly from the program, there is a great deal of misleading information being disseminated of which school districts need to be aware.  Foremost of these myths is that the federal government is totally funding $848 million in bonds for school districts...

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Wet Winter Weather Can Lead to Toxic Mold Dangers in Schools

By Dennis L. Dunston - January 6, 2011

The presence of mold in school buildings usually raises red flags with school district leadership, and is a source of concern for the occupants.  Prevention of mold is difficult, and requires constant attention.  According to the EPA publication Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings (EPA 402-K-01-001) the presence of mold can cause physical symptoms including headaches, nausea, skin irritation, breathing difficulties and other allergic reactions...

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State Allocation Board Funds $1.437 Billion in Projects

By Dennis L. Dunston - December 16, 2010

The State Allocation Board (SAB) met on Wednesday.  One of the main issues discussed was the funding approval for over $1.437 billion in school-related projects.  This funding was made available from the sale of state bonds in November.  A total of 439 projects were funded.  The sale included bonds from Propositions 47, 55 and 1D, and the proceeds will fund projects in New Construction, Modernization, Overcrowding Relief Grants, Charter School Facilities, Critically Overcrowded Schools and Facility Hardship programs...

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Department of Industrial Regulations Suspends Labor Compliance Regulation

By Dennis L. Dunston - November 11, 2010

On October 21, the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) suspended the new Labor Compliance Regulations that went into effect on August 1.  This action could have significant consequences for school districts – depending on their circumstances.

Since 1931, prevailing wage has been required for all public works construction projects in excess of $1,000.  Prevailing wages are set by the DIR for each construction trade based on union wages...

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SAB Update

State Allocation Board Adopts Changes to the High Performance Incentive Grants

By Dennis L. Dunston - June 10, 2010

In recent weeks we have brought you articles about the State’s program to increase energy efficiency and sustainability in school construction and modernization projects.  We would like to bring you some of the specifics of the program and the recent changes proposed by the Office of Public School Construction (OPSC). 

Proposition 1D was passed by the voters in 2006 and set aside $100 million “…for incentive grants to promote the use of designs and materials in new construction and modernization projects that include the attributes of high-performance schools…” (Ed Code Section 101012 (a)(8).)...

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Revisions Made to HPI Grant Program

SAB Approves Funding Priority Policy

By Dennis L. Dunston - June 3, 2010

At the monthly meeting on May 26, the State Allocation Board (SAB) approved a new priority policy for the remaining funds from the recent sale of state bonds.   After apportionments for Facilities Hardship applications, $408.3 million remains available from Proposition 47, 55 and 1D bonds that were sold in March.  The SAB had expressed an interest in applying these funds to projects that are “construction ready,” and could create jobs and stimulate the state economy.  As we reported earlier, a subcommittee of the SAB met on May 12 and developed recommendations that were brought forward to the full committee for discussion...

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Recommendations Go to Full SAB this Month

SAB Subcommittee Discusses Priorities for $415 million from March Bond Sales

By Dennis L. Dunston - May 17, 2010

A subcommittee of the State Allocation Board (SAB) met on Wednesday (May 12) to discuss the priorities that will be used to distribute the remaining $415 million in funds available from the March sale of State bonds.

Earlier, during the April SAB meeting, the Board discussed three options for prioritizing the funding of projects with the remaining bond funds.  The Board established this subcommittee to review the third option in greater detail...

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State Allocation Board Implementation Committee

Panel Discusses Under-Utilized High Performance Incentive Grants Program

By Dennis L. Dunston - May 13, 2010

At the May 6, 2010 meeting of the State Allocation Board’s Implementation Committee, members and guests discussed the High Performance Incentive (HPI) Grants. 

As reported earlier in EdBrief, $100 million from Proposition 1D was set aside specifically for projects which meet high performance standards based on the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) program...

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Millions in Funding Still Available For Projects

SAB Implementation Committee Discusses High Performance Incentive Grant Program

By Dennis L. Dunston - April 29, 2010

In the regular monthly meeting of the State Allocation Board’s Implementation Committee, which was held at the State Capital on April 8, the main topic of discussion was the High Performance Incentive Grant Program.

Background

As a part of Proposition 1D (approved by the voters in 2006), $100 million was set aside for “…incentive grants to promote the use of designs and materials in new construction and modernization projects that included the attributes of high- performance schools”...

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Only One-Third of K-8 Students Can Easily Walk To School

Study Finds Older, Community-Centered Schools Are Good for Environment, Children's Health

April 15, 2010

As older community-centered schools across the nation continue to be threatened with closure, and new schools are constructed ever farther from the people they serve, a new report issued by the National Trust for Historic Preservation examines these trends, and asks: what policies are needed to encourage the preservation and development of community-centered schools?

The answers to that question, offered by an array of experts in a wide range of fields, provide the basis for the National Trust’s report...

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OPSC Moves to New Location

SAB Hears Good News Regarding New Funding for School Construction Projects

By Dennis L. Dunston - April 1, 2010

The State Allocation Board (SAB) held its regular monthly meeting on March 24 in the Board Room of the CDE Building in Sacramento.  Here’s a rundown on the various items discussed and actions taken.

Lisa Silverman, Executive Officer of the SAB, announced that, of the $2.5 billion in State bonds sold in the previous week, $376 million would go to school facilities.  This allocation was not anticipated.  Information from the Department of Finance (DOF) prior to this week had indicated that none of the proceeds from that bond sale would go to schools...

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State to Launch $4 Billion Bond Sale

By Jeff Hudson and Dennis L. Dunston - March 4, 2010

California plans to offer some $4 billion in general obligation bonds during March – despite the ongoing budget problems that have tied up state government in Sacramento during the past year.

For the past few months, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer has been held back on bond offerings while California struggled to close a $20-billion budget gap.

In response to California’s ongoing red ink saga, the credit ratings firm Standard & Poor’s cut the state’s credit grade by one more notch during January, to A-minus from A...

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Districts Should Consider Their Options

State Allocation Board Cuts Per-Pupil Grants, Which May Affect Developer Fees for Schools

By Vern Weber - February 12, 2010

In January of every year, the State Allocation Board (SAB) adjusts School Facility Program per pupil grants.  In January of even-numbered years, the SAB also adjusts the maximum Level 1 developer fees that a school district may levy on new projects.

The adjustments usually result in increases in the developer fees. But this year is different, and the impact on developer fees could be significant...

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SAB & Implementation Committee Update:

OPSC Head Rob Cook Steps Down, Other Topics Mulled by SAB Implementation Committee

By Dennis L. Dunston - February 12, 2010

Rob Cook has stepped down as the executive director of the Office of Public School Construction (OPSC).

That announcement, as well as several other items, came out of last Thursday’s meeting of the State Allocation Board Implementation Committee.

The chair of the Implementation Committee, Lisa Kaplan, announced that Cook is moving on...

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State Schools Chief Jack O'Connell Calls for New School Bond at School Facilities Hearing

December 18, 2009

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell testified Tuesday at a hearing held by the Senate Select Committee on School Facilities. At the hearing he cited the need for a new school bond to meet the needs of California students in the 21st century.

“We speak often about preparing our children for the future, but achieving this goal will only increase in difficulty if our kids continue to learn in schools of the past,” O’Connell said...

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SB 334, Progress for Special Education Facilities Funding

By Dennis L. Dunston - November 6, 2009

Recently the Governor signed into law SB 334, which calls for increased funding to school districts for special education facilities.  This legislation is a major milestone toward providing quality educational facilities for students with exceptional needs.

Prior to 1998, school facilities were funded on a square foot per student basis.  Special education facilities were listed in the Education Code as severe or non-severe, and further broken down into classifications corresponding to the provisions of Ed Code section 56026...

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Governor Signs Legislation Authorizing Charter Schools to Hold Title to Facilities

October 23, 2009

Charter school advocates are celebrating two bills signed earlier this month by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As part of his flurry of bill signings on Oct. 11, the Governor signed SB 592, which will let between 30 to 35 charter schools “hold title,” potentially allowing them to own and control roughly $500 million in charter school facilities.  SB 592, authored by Senator Gloria Romero (D – East Los Angeles), and jointly sponsored by the California Charter Schools Association and the Schwarzenegger administration, will allow a charter school to hold title, or ownership, over its own facilities...

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New Bond Sale Could Fund School Projects

By Dennis L. Dunston - October 2, 2009

Earlier we reported that the State of California had ceased the sale of bonds for capital improvement projects.  On December 17, 2008, the Pooled Money Investments Board (PMIB) stopped selling bonds, indicating that California’s bond rating was so low that the State would need to pay more in interest on these bonds than they were statutorily allowed to pay.

In March, 2009, the market had improved sufficiently for the PMIB to offer bonds for sale.  The response was good, with there being more demand than bonds to be sold.  In April, another offering had the same result...

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QSCB Lottery Spreads $700 million in Bond Authorizations Over 43 School Districts

By Dennis L. Dunston and Brett McFadden - September 3, 2009

As reported last week, the California Department of Education (CDE) held a lottery last Friday to determine the recipients of the Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) authorizations.  Seven hundred million dollars in interest free bonding authorization was available to districts through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  The maximum amount available for an applicant district was $25 million.  Twenty-two of the 43 districts that received the authorizations were awarded the maximum amount...

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After Receiving Applications Amounting to $3.7 Billion for $700 Million in Funds Actually Available, QSCB Goes to Lottery

By Dennis L. Dunston - August 26, 2009

Over $3.7 billion in applications were submitted to California Department of Education (CDE) on Tuesday for the $700 Million available in the Qualified School Construction Bond program.

A provision of the federal stimulus package (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA) provides for the sale of interest free bonds for school construction, modernization or repair projects that are construction ready.  This program is called the Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) program...

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New State Budget Lets Districts Use Proceeds from Surplus Property for "One-Time" Purposes

By Jeff Hudson - August 14, 2009

The recently approved state budget has opened up a short-term chink in what historically has been a “firewall” separating facilities funds from money used for salaries in California school districts.

From now through January 1, 2012, school districts have the option of using proceeds from the sale of surplus real estate for any one-time general fund purpose – provided that the surplus property being sold was purchased entirely with local funds.  (Property that was purchased in part with state funds does not qualify.)...

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Qualified School Construction Bonds Still Available – August 25 Deadline Nears

By Brett McFadden and Monica Crouch - August 14, 2009

There is a new school facility bond program available to Local Education Agencies (LEAs).  The Qualified School Construction Bond Program (QSCB) is now available for school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to apply for zero-interest facility bonds.  This bond is a tax credit program, which is a component of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

QSCB is a zero-interest bond that will provide federal tax credits to investors...

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Declining Property Values Are Diminishing Voter-Approved Facilities Funding for Schools

By Dennis L. Dunston - July 31, 2009

On July 14, the Senate Select Committee on Educational Facilities met at the State Capitol.  There was testimony from public and private sector school facilities practitioners. There were no surprises on what was said about the status of funding or the adequacy of the funding.

The real news came from Guy Mehula, Chief Executive of the Facilities Services Division for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).  He announced that the LAUSD may need to suspend their building program for a period of five years...

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State Allocation Board's Implementation Committee Limits Some Funding Rules

By Dennis L. Dunston - July 24, 2009

On Thursday, the State Allocation Board’s Implementation Committee met to discuss two major issues in the School Facilities Program (SFP) regulations: 1) The 60% commensurate rule in conjunction with the 150% rule, and 2) The accessibility and fire code allowances.

When submitting an application for funding under the SFP, a district must certify that the cost estimate for the construction of the project is at least 60% of the total grant amount, including both State and local share...

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Slight Increase Predicted for Elementary Grades, But Secondary Will See Declines

By Monica Crouch and Brett McFadden - July 17, 2009

After declining for most of this decade, statewide student enrollment looks like it will pick up over the next decade.  Since 2006, over 54% of school districts and county offices have been experiencing multi-year declining enrollment conditions.  But while average statewide enrollment is projected to now go up, that growth will be focused on specific regions.  It will also be highly dependent on when and how the state comes out of recession.

Why should education leaders care about demographic trends?  Well, in simple terms, kids come with money, and money comes with kids...

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O'Connell Reminds Districts of August 25 Deadline to Apply for Federal Stimulus Funds for Construction

July 10, 2009

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell last week encouraged school districts and charter schools to apply for more than $773 million in the Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) program. The new QSCB tax credit program is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.

“QSCB will provide tax credits to school districts and charter schools for bond issuance that has the potential to jump start new construction and modernization projects throughout the state,” said O'Connell...

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California's Funding Formulas Produce Different Rates of State Support for School Districts

By Vern Weber - April 17, 2009

California's complex system of public education funding has roots that go back for decades, with landmark court decisions and California's voters establishing critical rules.

In the early 1970s, the court decision in the Serrano vs. Priest case mandated that California funding for school districts move toward equity, with a target of less than $100 per average daily attendance (ADA).  The creation of revenue limit formulas, and the principle that school districts below the average would receive more funding, resulted in significant progress toward equalization...

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State Architect Moves Some Projects – Not Involving State Funds – Into the "Fast Lane"

By Jeff Hudson - April 10, 2009

Emphasizing a commitment to moving school construction forward, the Division of the State Architect (DSA), which provides design and construction oversight for K–12 schools and community colleges, announced last week that it will give top priority to reviewing school design plans that do not require state funding.

"The availability of federal economic stimulus funds coupled with local school bond approvals creates an opportunity to advance 'shovel-ready' school construction projects," said State Architect David Thorman...

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State Treasurer Sells $6.54 Billion in Bonds

By Dennis L. Dunston - March 27, 2009

Much to the surprise and delight of California school districts, the State Treasurer sold $6.54 billion in tax exempt capital improvement bonds earlier this week – which could, perhaps, open the way for funding of school construction projects.

At the Pooled Money Investment Board (PMIB) meeting on March 18, a Treasurer’s office representative indicated that $4 billion would be sold. However, the demand for the bonds proved to be higher than expected...

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Treasurer to Sell $4 Billion in Bonds

By Dennis L. Dunston, AIA, REFP, LEED AP - March 20, 2009

The Pooled Money Investment Board (PMIB) met on Wednesday, (March 18) to discuss the disbursement of state bond funds.

One of the responsibilities of the PMIB is to sell bonds for the funding of capital projects including those authorized by Proposition 1D to fund school facilities projects under the School Facilities Program (SFP).

No bonds have been sold since last June and, on December 17, the Board ceased disbursements from the fund....

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Facility Maintenance Flexibility: A Blessing or a Curse?

By Kari Sousa, CPA - March 13, 2009

One of the many flexibility items contained in the new state Budget Act is flexibility related to Facility Maintenance Programs.  In ordinary years, districts are annually required to set aside 3% of General Fund expenditures into an Ongoing and Major Maintenance Account (OMMA) account, also known as the Restricted Maintenance Account (RMA) in SACS resource code 8150.  These funds are to be used for costs, including personnel and materials, associated with the maintenance of district facilities...

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State Allocation Board Update – Board Ponders Impact of Budget Crisis on School Construction

By Dennis L. Dunston - March 13, 2009

Critically Overcrowded Schools

The State Allocation Board members met in a special session on March 11 to review items left over from their February 25 meeting.  Among the issues discussed was the transfer of funds from the Critically Overcrowded Schools (COS) program to the School Facilities Program (SFP).

The COS program was funded with Proposition 47 bonds.  Some $840.7 million remains in the fund from projects that could not meet the required timelines...

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SAB's Implementation Committee Discusses Delayed Funds for Approved School Projects

By Dennis L. Dunston - March 13, 2009

The State Allocation Board’s Implementation Committee met on March 12 in Sacramento.

The primary issue discussed was the development of recommendations to the SAB for establishing a priority system for fund releases when bond funds become available.  On December 17, 2008, the Pooled Money Investment Board (PMIB) ceased the sale of bonds and the disbursement of money from authorized State bonds.  At that time 849 projects had been approved for apportionment in the School Facilities Program (SFP)...

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Office of Public School Construction (OPSC) Implementation Committee Meets – Discusses Funding Priority

By Dennis L. Dunston - February 20, 2009

Prior to December 17, 2008 few people had heard of the Pooled Money Investment Board (PMIB).  The PMIB is made up of the State Treasurer, the State Controller and the Director of Finance and controls the disbursements from the Pooled Money Investment Fund.  The PMIF is like the State’s checkbook; deposits are made from the sale of bonds and held until needed by the State programs.  One of the programs effected by this is the School Facilities Program (SFP), used to build and modernize school facilities across the state...

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California Enrollment Trends V

High School Student Attrition

By Vern Weber - February 20, 2009

How many California high school students drop out before they graduate?  Calculating that figure is not an easy task.

The California Department of Education recently stated that the state’s high school dropout rate is 23 percent.  This is a percentage that has long been confirmed by U.S. Census data, as the 1990 census revealed that 23.8 percent of the “age 25 and over” population had no high school diploma or equivalency.  In the 2000 census, the percentage changed very little – from 23.8 to 23.2 percent...

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California Enrollment Trends IV

No Major Shifts In Migration Patterns, Student Retention

By Vern Weber - February 13, 2009

The term “cohort survival” isn’t used often in common conversation, or on the airwaves.  But within the educational community, many administrators are familiar with the term. Cohort survival tracks the movement of students through the grades from one year to the next.  This paper presents K-8 cohort data for the State of California as a whole, and what those data mean for California and future enrollment in the state.

The public school cohort factor presents, as a single number, the combined effect of migration patters, residential growth, the economy, student retention...

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California Enrollment Trends III:

Births and Fertility Rates Forecast Change for Many California School Districts

By Vern Weber - February 6, 2009

California’s birth rate is once more on the rise, and the differing fertility rates among the state’s ethnic groups will play a role in the changing composition of school district enrollment in years ahead, as the number of Hispanic students continues to grow.

The California birth trend is a major factor driving school enrollment trends, as most children attend kindergarten five years after their birth.  Influencing the birth trend is the female population by age and the fertility rate...

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California Enrollment Trends II:

Charter Schools Pull From Both Public and Private Schools

By Vern Weber - January 30, 2009

Most of California’s school-age children are “officially” counted in public, charter and private schools.  But what about those children who slip through the cracks — the home-schoolers and dropouts? And what are the trends?

Based on California Department of Education records and outside estimates, in 2006-07, the State of California had K-12 students in the following categories...

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California Enrollment Trends:

Declining Enrollment – The End is Coming!

By Vern Weber - January 23, 2009

In recent years, many California public school districts have experienced enrollment declines, resulting in the need to make budget, staffing and facilities adjustments.  The statewide decline began in grades K-5 after enrollments peaked in the year 2000, extended to grades 6-8 after a 2003 peak, and then into grades 9-12 after a 2007 peak.

Evidence now suggests that the California public school enrollment decline will end in the year 2010, when K-12 enrollment will reach a low of 6.2 million – only 100,000 students below its peak of 6.3 million in the year 2004...

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State Allocation Board Halts School Facilities Funding

By Dennis L. Dunston - January 16, 2009

At special meeting on Wednesday (Jan. 14), the State Allocation Board (SAB) approved emergency regulations which bring a halt to funding in the School Facilities Program (SFP).

The regulations will make project funding subject to the availability of funding by the Pooled Money Investment Board.  The PMIB controls the account that is used by all State agencies for cash flow until more permanent funding can be secured.  The fund is used for temporarily funding SFP projects until bonds authorized by Proposition 1D can be sold...

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California's Grid Neutral Program Falls Short

By Dennis L. Dunston - January 9, 2009

At the California Green Schools Conference in Anaheim in December, the State Architect unveiled the new Grid Neutral Program for California public schools and community colleges. With this program the State hopes to persuade school districts building new facilities to produce as much power on a school site as they use in any one year.

Grid neutrality can certainly be an important part of sustainability, but at this point far too much emphasis is being placed on this one element at the expense of the overall goal...

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State Funding Cessation Puts School District Construction Money in Doubt

By Dennis L. Dunston - January 2, 2009

In a press release on December 17, California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer warned that because of the unresolved state budget crisis, the Pooled Money Investment Account (PMIA) would cease funding infrastructure projects, including school facilities projects.  The PMIA is used for short term loans to both bond funded projects and to State General Fund accounts to meet day to day cash flow needs...

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Green California Schools Summit and Exposition Showcases Innovative Options

By Dennis L. Dunston - December 12, 2008

Earlier this week the State of California sponsored the Green California Schools Summit and Exposition at the Anaheim Convention Center.  The conference was attended by school district representatives, state agency representatives, green equipment suppliers and consultants.  Keynote speakers included State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, L. Hunter Lovins, a lifelong sustainability advocate and Terry Tamminen, former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and advisor to Governor Schwarzenegger on energy and environmental policy...

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It's Not Easy Being Green

By Dennis L. Dunston - December 5, 2008

The headline above – reflecting a now famous quote from Kermit the Frog – might characterize the somewhat reluctant attitude on the part of many school districts regarding the sustainability movement.

While there is some truth behind this commonly-expressed sentiment, the reality is that being green is becoming easier.  In fact, many communities are supporting their school districts’ efforts to reduce energy costs, add daylighting, and use low-emitting materials.  For many architects, sustainability is no longer a leading-edge trend, but an essential part of the design process...

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It's Not Easy Being Green

By Dennis L. Dunston - December 5, 2008

The headline above – reflecting a now famous quote from Kermit the Frog – might characterize the somewhat reluctant attitude on the part of many school districts regarding the sustainability movement.

While there is some truth behind this commonly-expressed sentiment, the reality is that being green is becoming easier.  In fact many communities are supporting their school districts’ efforts to reduce energy costs, add daylighting, and use low-emitting materials.  For many architects, sustainability is no longer a leading-edge trend, but an essential part of the design process...

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Many School Bonds Approved by Voters – Now Districts Must Prepare Audits, Form Panels

By Jeff Hudson - November 21, 2008

Voters around California looked beyond their worries about difficult economic times on Election Day, and approved 77 out of 86 school district ballot measures involving general obligation bonds, which required a 55 percent majority for passage.

Voters also approved nine out of ten school facility improvement measures...

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Many Districts Lag in Compliance with Field Act, Increasing Liability Risk on Facilities

By Dennis L. Dunston - October 31, 2008

Many school district administrators and board members hear the term "non-conforming facilities" and think little of it.  In fact, occupying non-conforming facilities is a serious issue.  The term refers to facilities that do not comply with the provisions of the Field Act, or, more specifically, Title 24, the California Building Code (CBC).  Facilities may be designed and constructed based on the provisions of the CBC, however, if all the required procedures are not followed and the project is not properly closed out with the Division of the State Architect (DSA)...

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School Design – Always Evolving, Especially Now

By Jeff Hudson - October 24, 2008

What should a new school look like?

The ideal has changed, as the world has changed. One hundred years ago, a typical American school – or, in the parlance of that era, a "grammar school" – was typically a small structure with just a few classrooms, serving a specific neighborhood (if you lived in town) or a rural hamlet. Most students walked from home to school...

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Unlocking the Myth of Educational Specifications

By Tahir Ahad - October 10, 2008

As all of us in public education know, even commonly used and easily understood phrases and buzz words can have different meanings and interpretations.  A specific item or term may be viewed differently by different individuals based on their own personal exposure and experiences. One of those terms happens to be “educational specifications.”...

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State Allocation Board Acts on Three Issues

By Dennis L. Dunston - September 26, 2008

California’s State Allocation Board (SAB) held their regularly scheduled monthly meeting on September 24, and discussed several significant items.

Macias Grant Adequacy Study

Background: In 2007 the Macias Group was commissioned to report on the adequacy of the grants in the School Facilities Program (SFP).  That report was originally presented to the SAB in September, 2007...

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State Tightening Regulations for School Facility Funding Financial Hardship Program

By Dennis L. Dunston - September 19, 2008

Over the past nine months, there have been significant changes proposed to the School Facility Program’s Financial Hardship (FH) program.  In September, 2007, the Macias Group, a private consultant hired by the state’s Department of Finance to review the FH program, reported to the State Allocation Board (SAB) that there was wide spread abuse and misrepresentation of district’s financial status in the application process...

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What to Know and Do About Developer Fees

By Vern Weber - September 12, 2008

School districts have always experienced difficulties in raising local revenues to provide housing for its students, whether funded entirely with local monies or using a combination of local and state monies.

Before the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, which eliminated all local bond and lease-purchase election options, school districts often sought help...

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Bond Performance Audit: A Good Idea, Not Just The Law!

By Vern Weber - September 1, 2008

A Proposition 39 bond, requiring voter approval of at least 55 percent to pass, carries with it the requirement for an annual performance audit. While the scope of such an audit is not defined in law or regulation, its intended purpose is to ensure:

  • Compliance (expenditures conform to ballot language)
  • Effectiveness (doing the right things)...

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Good Facilities Master Planning Leads To Good Program Management

By Dennis L. Dunston - September 1, 2008

Two essential elements of facilities planning are a long-range Facilities Master Plan (FMP) and Program Management (PM).

These two elements are similar to design and construction; a master plan is a thorough documentation of facilities issues and potential solutions, while program management is the well-executed implementation of those plans...

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