The Case for Federal Funding for School Infrastructure

By Laura Jimenez, Center for American Progress - February 24, 2019

America’s infrastructure is falling apart. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently estimated that it would take a $4.5 trillion investment to upgrade the country’s roads; buildings; transportation, water, and energy systems; and other essential underpinnings. The ASCE has graded the country’s infrastructure as an overall D+. Infrastructure is the backbone of the U.S. economy, and the lack of investment in transportation infrastructure alone will cost the country $340 billion in lost business revenues from 2017 to 2023. While most infrastructure discussions consider transportation, energy, and more, they too often ignore K-12 public schools, which welcome more than 50 million children and adults every day. K-12 public schools represent the nation’s second-largest infrastructure sector.

Considering the size of the K-12 sector, its exclusion from larger infrastructure analyses, including the aforementioned ASCE report and President Donald Trump’s $200 billion infrastructure proposal, is puzzling. Schools are economic drivers, as well-prepared students will earn $1 million more over their lifetimes than their less educated peers. The condition of school buildings provides a crucial foundation for classroom learning that affects students and the American economy...

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Protecting Students from Gun Violence

Does "Target Hardening" Do More Harm Than Good?

By Bryan R. Warnick and Ryan Kapa - February 24, 2019

When confronted with the horror of school shootings, we face a dilemma. Naturally, we are deeply troubled by such incidents. The tragedies are so sad and profound-for the families, the schools, the surrounding communities, and the nation as a whole-that it is difficult to ignore these events as statistical white noise. Yet from a rational perspective, we need to recognize that schools, on the whole, are extremely safe places for young people. A joint report from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education concluded that children and youth were 87 times more likely to die by murder or suicide outside of school than in it (see Figures 1 and 2).

How do we weigh our awareness of the overall safe character of U.S. schools against the compelling desire to prevent more school shootings if at all possible? How do we find balance between these two perspectives? In our view, achieving such a balance means taking rational and effective actions to prevent school shootings while also being cautious not to sacrifice educational goals or the school climate for the sake of exaggerated safety concerns...

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“School Hardening” Not Making Students Safer, Say Experts

By Tim Walker, National Education Association - February 24, 2019

It may be no surprise that 2018 was the worst year on record for school shootings. According to federal data, there were 94 gun incidents at U.S. schools last year. That’s an increase of almost 60% over the previous high, recorded in 2016.

One of those incidents of course was the horrific shooting on Feb. 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and staff members. This attack – and the many school shootings that followed – galvanized a long-dormant national debate over gun violence. Students mobilized across the country, demanding elected officials step up and fix the nation’s lax gun laws...

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ACSA Launches Fatal School Violence Toolkit, with Checklist of Things To Do Before, During and After an Incident

November 1, 2018

The first priority of educators nationwide is to provide a healthy and safe school environment for all students and staff. ACSA has taken a proactive role in school safety with the creation of the Fatal School Violence Toolkit.

“We believe there is a need to have serious discussions about school safety,” said ACSA President Holly Edds. “With regard to school violence and threats, we are facing new challenges every day, and we’ve built this toolkit to include resources designed to save lives.”...

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With Students, Parents Worried About Recent Shootings, School Safety Becomes a Team Effort

November 1, 2018
By Tom Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association

As the academic year proceeds, students and their families may find themselves concerned about the safety of their schools. After 22 school shootings in the first half of 2018 alone, their worry is reasonable.

The National School Boards Association believes that the federal government has a role to play in providing resources to promote local school safety. These include school resource officers, school counseling, emergency preparedness and response training, interagency coordination and comprehensive resource guides on available federal assistance. We also support greater, sustained federal funding that expands access to mental health resources...

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Next Governor Urged to Release $7 Billion in School Facilities Funding

August 22, 2018

California students are going back to school this week and, unfortunately, many will be returning to inadequate school facilities. In 2016, California voters approved $7 billion in facility bond funds to address this issue and repair, upgrade and modernize California schools. Two years later, the state is holding on to those funds, instead of releasing the money so it can be used to improve school environments and optimize student learning.

The California School Boards Association wrote the following open letter to California’s gubernatorial candidates asking them to release the full $7 billion in school facilities funds when they take office so schools can better meet the needs of California’s students. The letter appeared in today's editions of the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, San Diego Union Tribune, and the Bay Area News Group newspapers, including the East Bay Times, Marin Independent Journal and the San Jose Mercury News...

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State Allocation Board Defers Action on Proposal to Cease Accepting Applications Once Bond Authority Has Been Exhausted

June 29, 2018

On June 28, the State Allocation Board (Board) deferred action on a proposed regulation to cease accepting applications once bond authority has been exhausted. Approval of this proposal would essentially eliminate the School Facility Program (SFP) for projects outside of Proposition 51 bond authority. New Construction Proposition 51 bond authority is expected to be exhausted by October 2018, and Modernization bond authority is expected to be exhausted by September 2019.

California’s Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH) urged the Board to defer action and to thoroughly vet the proposal and its significant impacts. Chair Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez stated that she would like the proposal to come back before the Board in August 2018, and indicated that she intends to involve stakeholders in the review process...

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CDE Reminds Schools to Update School Safety Plans

March 9, 2018

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on March 2 that the California Department of Education is taking a new step to help ensure student safety by auditing comprehensive school safety plans that are required of all schools by Education Code 32280-32288. The state compliance audit requirement will begin in the 2018-2019 school year.

Local school districts must approve safety plans for all schools in its district by March 1 of each year. School safety plans are mandatory and help ensure that schools are as prepared as possible for emergencies and also maintain safe and secure learning environments...

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Solar Capacity at Schools Has Nearly Doubled Nationwide Within Last Three Years

December 4, 2017

With installation costs plummeting, American schools are switching to solar energy at a rapid pace, reducing their electricity bills and freeing up resources to invest in education. There are now 5,489 K-12 schools in the United States that use solar energy, nearly double the total solar capacity that was installed at schools in 2014, according to a new report by The Solar Foundation, Generation 180, and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The dramatic growth in solar school adoption has been driven by rapidly declining installation costs. The average price of a solar school installation has dropped 67 percent in the last 10 years, and 19 percent in 2016 alone, this report found.

Nearly 4 million students in the U.S. attend schools with solar power, with a combined capacity of 910 megawatts (MW), an increase of 86 percent over 2014...

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ACSA Urges Gov. Brown to Accelerate Sales of Proposition 51 School Facilities Bonds

By Wesley Smith, ACSA Executive Director - October 2, 2017

Voters approved Proposition 51 in November 2016, providing a $9 billion facilities bond for K-Community College schools. The expectation from the approval was communities would receive funds to build and renovate their local schools.

As of now, Gov. Brown has committed to selling only $400 million at the upcoming fall bond sale. That equals about 4 percent of those bonds, and the financial impact on districts could be colossal as construction costs and interest rates escalate over time.

The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) anticipates approximately a $2 billion backlog in projects identified for modernization and new construction due to the lack of bond funds available from the state for the past 10 years...

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NSBA Announces Clean, Green, Safe Schools Resources

February 13, 2017

On January 30, the National School Boards Association today launched the Clean, Green and Safe Schools initiative with the aim of providing school board members information they can use to develop policies and protocols to provide a healthy and safe environment for students, teachers, administrators and visitors. The initiative also provides access to experts who can help school boards develop and implement a working plan to improve school buildings, so they are energy and cost efficient, safe, and designed to provide an optimal learning environment.

A school’s physical structure is a critical component to student success. Studies have found positive correlations between building conditions and student performance. Unfortunately, the inverse is also true. In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency found that that students who attend schools in poor condition score 11 percent lower on standardized tests than students who attend schools in good condition...

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Brown Announces Additional Audit Requirements for Prop. 51 School Facilities Bond Funding

January 16, 2017

As part of his announcement of his January budget proposal on January 10, Governor Jerry Brown indicated that he has directed his administration to pursue additional audits covering the issuance of $9 billion in school facilities bonds that California voters approved by passing Proposition 51 in the November 2016 election.

Brown indicated that his move is intended to level the playing field and give less affluent districts an equal chance at the new state money for school construction and modernization. Proposition gives the upper hand to wealthy campuses, Brown maintained, because “It says, ‘Hey, if you’ve got your application ready, you’ll be first in line,’ and that will favor the more affluent and the more resourced districts.” So Brown has ordered additional audits in attempt to make sure that less affluent districts that will likely move more slowly will still have a chance at the Proposition 51 funds. At his budget unveiling on January 10, Brown told reporters he would try to “make it work in the fairest way possible.”...

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Lease-Leaseback Project Delivery Method Affected by New Legislation

November 21, 2016

Assembly Bill 2316 (“AB 2316”), signed into law by Governor Brown in September, will change school districts’ lease-leaseback ("LLB") project delivery method effective January 1, 2017. The following highlights some key provisions of AB 2316, which amends Education Code sections 17400 and 17406, and summarizes some of the practical implications of the new law for districts:

  1. Transparent Selection. Schools now have a statutory “roadmap’ for procuring LLB contractors on the basis of “best value” through a competitive selection process. AB 2316 will require development and publication of a request for proposals (“RFP’) with transparent scoring criteria. As part of the scoring criteria, schools can require contractors to provide a price “proposal” either on a lump sum or percentage fee basis. AB 2316 answers concerns of unfairness raised in the past by dissatisfied contractors who were not awarded LLB contracts...

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