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News is maintained by the 21st. Century School Fund's Building Educational Success Together collaborative.


Madaleno proposes $5 billion for school construction from lottery revenue
-- Reis Thebault, The Washington Post

Washington: June 13, 2018 -- State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. on Tuesday unveiled a proposal to provide Maryland's largest school districts with as much as $5 billion in construction funding, becoming the first gubernatorial candidate to address that issue in such detail. The plan would use revenue from the state lottery to supplement money already earmarked for school renovation and construction. “We are at a tipping point in the state of Maryland when it comes to education,” Madaleno (D-Montgomery) said in a statement. “Our facilities are aging, our programs no longer meet the needs of the 21st century.” The plan, dubbed the BEACONS Act, addresses “large backlogs” of critical construction projects in Maryland's most populous school districts. Madaleno's proposal makes the funds available to jurisdictions with more than 75,000 students, which means Montgomery, Prince George's, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties and Baltimore City would now qualify. Madaleno co-sponsored a 2013 bill that funded a similar construction plan for Baltimore City Public Schools. Now, Madaleno said, $1 billion is helping to rebuild 26 Baltimore schools, and the program “is a model for the other jurisdictions of the state.”


Burlington School Board orders superintendent to halt construction projects
-- Nicole Higgins DeSmet, Burlington Free Press

Vermont: June 12, 2018 -- The Burlington School Board gave Superintendent Yaw Obeng the order on Tuesday to cease any action planned on district construction projects. "The superintendent is directed to halt spending on and development of the North and South End Early Education and central office construction projects at this time," Mike Fisher said, reading the final points of a resolution passed by a majority of board members. The exact direction Obeng will take was left to be decided in future meetings with School Board Chairwoman Clare Wool. The district's plans to build two new pre-kindergartens at C.P. Smith and Champlain elementary schools were called into question over the last two months at community meetings and before the City Council. "Whether it's legal or not is a moot point, because the voters thought their money was going to be spent on school repairs and instead it's going to be spent on something else," said Joanna Grossman, a Champlain parent leader and construction opponent, at a May 14 City Council meeting.


School Facilities - Heat and Learning
-- Sarah D. Sparks, Education Week

National: June 12, 2018 -- Students who learn in hotter classrooms perform worse on college-admissions tests, according to a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Researchers tracked 10 million high school students who took the PSAT multiple years between 2001 and 2014. On average, students improved their score by a third of a standard deviation by retaking the test. But a student's performance dropped by nearly 1 percent of a year's worth of learning for every degree Fahrenheit hotter the outside temperature was during the school year before a student took the test. The effect was three times as strong for low-income, black, and Hispanic students. In schools with air conditioning, 75 percent of the declines associated with hot days disappeared.


Manchester Committee Discusses Which Schools To Close, Which To Fix
-- Jesse Leavenworth, Hartford Courant

Connecticut: June 12, 2018 -- A committee charged with drafting the second half of a school modernization plan met Tuesday to discuss how many elementary schools to renovate and enlarge and how many to close. The SMARTR2 panel, made up of leaders from the town and school district, is trying to arrive at an optimum number and size of elementary schools. Members agreed they need to continue discussion on whether to recommend closing one or two current schools and whether to convert one school to a districtwide preschool. The panel is to meet again in July, with the goal of holding public hearings in September. Voters approved an $84 million bond issue in 2014 for the first phase of the school modernization project. That work is to be completed next year. The panel that drafted the plan, the School Modernization and Reinvestment Team Revisited, has been revived as SMARTR2 to plan the second phase and bring a proposal to voters at referendum in April.


Guy Sconzo, guest columnist: Fast-growing Texas schools need state support
-- GARY SCONZO Guest columnist, Waco Tribune-Herald

Texas: June 9, 2018 -- For decades, the Texas business climate has beckoned outsiders to pack up and move to the Lone Star state in search of a better way of life, a better place to work and a better place to raise a family. It's great news for Texas businesses and the state's economy. It also means an ever-growing student population in our Texas schools — a good problem to have, but with it comes a unique set of challenges. In Texas, there are 75 fast-growth school districts, representing only 7.3 percent of all school districts statewide. However, these same districts enrolled 33.4 percent of all Texas students and 80 percent of all new students. It's clear these fast-growth communities — where many of the business relocations, expansions and job growth are happening — are at the heart of Texas' economic engine. And ultimately, for the school districts, that means not only more students but a dramatic demand for more facilities, faculty and jobs. It's not difficult to see that public schools — especially our fast-growth school districts — are doing our own part to contribute to the “Texas Miracle.”

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