DEMOLITION: Nearly seven years of efforts to save Kipapa Elementary School's aging Building B from demolition have failed, and the 69-year-old historic structure is set be torn down next month. The 100-foot-long building has suffered severe structural damage from termite infestation, education officials at the time said the cost to repair the building was too high, and there were liability issues in using the structure for classes.
FIRE: Fire struck East High School in Denver, causing enough damage to cancel classes for the rest of the week. No one was injured. The blaze broke out when a welder's torch threw a spark, igniting rubber and foam wrestling mats in a first-floor storage area. Most of the school's 1,650 students were off campus for lunch, but an estimated 200 students and staff members evacuated the building.
CLASS SIZE: The sponsor of a narrowly defeated Democratic proposal to hire thousands of new public school teachers says the 50 Republican senators' votes against it will haunt them on Election Day. The 50-48 vote marked the first time in several fitful weeks of debate that the Senate rejected a move to add spending to the legislation or to tighten controls over use of federal funds.
CONSTRUCTION: The Montgomery County, Md., school system is putting a halt to all bidding for major construction projects for 90 days because of sharp jumps in costs and an ongoing budget crunch, officials said yesterday. The moratorium, which is retroactive to May 1, will delay the bidding process for 13 major school projects totaling $130 million. Officials hope that the three-month delay will give the region's construction market time to cool off and prices to come down. The decision was made after recent bids for two elementary school projects came in 15 percent higher than the amounts budgeted.
UTILITIES: Albuquerque Public Schools escaped last winter's huge jumps in natural gas prices--thanks, in part, to good timing. Long before heating bills started to climb, district negotiators had locked into a natural gas price with a Texas utility company. The move saved the district millions. But although the winter chill is over, district administrators are now worried about how expensive it will be to keep the schools warm next winter. Natural gas and other rising utility costs are expected to take a bigger bite from the district's $462 million budget next school year.
BOMB THREAT: Two teenagers who pleaded guilty to plotting to bomb West Chatham Middle School in Pooler, Ga., have been sentenced to spend two and five years in state custody, either on probation or in juvenile detention. Juvenile Judge John W. Beam Jr. will personally monitor the boy sentenced to five years to determine when he can be released on probation. A screening panel will determine how much, if any, time the second boy will be confined.
BOND PLANS: Parents with children at Githens Middle School in Durham County, N.C., say they will oppose a plan to borrow $52 million for school construction next November unless more is done to alleviate crowding at their school. The bond issue does not include money for Githens, which is one of the district's newer middle schools.
FACILITIES FEES: The school board in Wake County, N.C., has adopted higher fees for groups to use school facilities--but not as high as had been proposed. The new user fees, which have the highest increases for adult groups and more modest jumps in price for youth groups, are meant to recoup the costs of maintenance and wear and tear on facilities.
FUNDING: Hamilton County, Ohio, commissioners have approved a deal that will send $4.9 million annually to Cincinnati Public Schools for the next 20 years. The money fulfills a 1996 commitment made during the campaign to raise the countywide sales tax to build two sports stadiums. The payments are in lieu of taxes that would have been paid on the new riverfront football facility and parking. The schools can use the money only for capital improvements, such as repairing older schools, building schools and infrastructure work.
ALCOHOL POLICY: California State University is proposing what appears to be the first systemwide alcohol policy in the nation. After the death last year of a fraternity pledge and two other near-fatal drinking-related incidents on CSU campuses, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed ordered a policy review. A committee is recommending stronger policies, including restricting alcohol advertising on campus, consistent enforcement of existing drinking laws, and beefed-up education and intervention services.
CHARTERS: A coalition of Ohio teachers unions and the AFL-CIO sued the State Board of Education , saying it allowed some charter schools to operate under different rules than public schools. If successful, says Clint F. Satow of the Ohio Community School Center in Columbus, the lawsuit would spell the end of the taxpayer-funded, privately run charter schools in Ohio.The lawsuit contends that Ohio's charter-school program violates state law and the Ohio Constitution.
SOFT DRINK CONTRACTS: An outside consultant overestimated how much Iowa State University would reap from a multimillion-dollar soda contract, members of a campus beverage committee say. A controversial proposal to give Coca-Cola exclusive pouring rights on campus appeared on track last month but fell flat last week. ISU would have made at least $2 million less than the consultant had predicted.
BONDS: Tulsa Public Schools will put a multimillion-dollar bond package before voters this fall--one year earlier than previously planned. A 20-year plan for building improvements e called for the next bond election in the fall of 2002. "We discovered we could accelerate our bond program by one year due to the health of Tulsa's economy," Superintendent David Sawyer says. Increased property values would allow for a bond package that wouldn't increase the tax rate.
SECURITY: Palm Beach County, Fla., School Board members don't want to look any further for someone to take over school security following Sheriff Ed Bieluch's rescinded offer last week. Bieluch was going to tell board members that his management would save money compared with the current $18.4 million district-run police force. But after reviewing his own budget, Bieluch says he isn't prepared to make an offer. With his proposal off the table, board say they want to let the issue die.
PEST CONTROL: Administrators complained for years about ineffective termite control in Hillsborough County, Fla., schools when Orkin Pest Control was doing the job. Tents weren't properly installed. Schools weren't guarded. Infestations quickly resumed. Yet Hillsborough school administrators continued hiring Orkin, spending $300,000 with the company before dropping it in 1999.
COLUMBINE: Officials have released hundreds of pages of documents describing evidence recovered from Columbine High School and the homes of the two students who killed 13 people there in 1999 The documents, released under court order, describe evidence found by federal and state investigators of the attack that left 12 students, a teacher and the two gunmen, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, dead.
CLASS SIZE: Palm Beach County, Fla., students likely will stay cramped in large classrooms for the foreseeable future, because school district officials say they don't have the money to reduce the size of most classes. For the past decade, School Board members have pushed to reduce class sizes for students in every grade. Classes average 31 students in high schools, 29.5 in middle schools and 26 in elementary schools. It would cost the district $7 million to reduce class size by one student across the board. So an average class size reduction of 10 students would cost $70 million.
CONSTRUCTION: Detroit Public Schools officials are expected to announce this week what they will do with the more than $900 million in construction bonds remaining in the $1.5-billion plan voters approved in 1994. The plans are expected to include at least two new elementary schools and a ruling on the location of Cass Tech. Final approval from schools Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Burnley is still to come, and none of the final projects have been approved by the state, either. All school bond projects must be reviewed by the state Department of Treasury before the bonds can be sold to finance the construction....riest Elementary students on the Detroit's southwest side are on the list to get a new school, according to documents obtained by The Detroit News. The new school, and a middle school next door, are the latest decisions about how to spend money under the school's long-delayed construction program. Money also will be spent to renovate Pershing High School to separate ninth-graders; remodel 35 schools, including everything from new roofs to new toilets; and build or totally renovate 14 other previously announced schools. To get started on these projects, the district hopes to sell nearly $360 million in bonds by the end of June. They will be the first bonds sold since the district halted all construction in 1999 because of widespread mismanagement.
FACILITIES: The St. Petersburg Branch of the NAACP has sent a scathing letter to Pinellas County, Fla.,schools' Superintendent Howard Hinesley, charging he has by "edict'' determined the character of three schools to be built in the black community--a claim Hinesley denies. Branch President Darryl Rouson wrote that the organization has concerns about Hinesley's desire "to protect the interests of black children'' now that a settlement has been reached in a desegregation lawsuit .The NAACP argues that Hinesley determined without input from the court-installed District Monitoring and Advisory Committee what the programs would be at the first new schools to be built in three decades in the largely black area south of Central Avenue.CELL TOWERS: Cherry Creek School District in Colorado has given Sprint PCS 30 days to remove a cell tower from atop High Plains Elementary. Hundreds of parents, worried about the unknown long-term effects of low-level radiation on children--and feeling as if they didn't have a say in the tower's installation--have bombarded district leaders with their concerns. District officials say they remain convinced that this doesn't pose any health and safety threat to children, but maintaining a good relationship with the community outweighs the revenue the tower generates.
SUPERINTENDENT: Jerry Wartgow, the new superintendent of Denver Public Schools, is still learning about the district and can offer few specifics about his plans. He's a friendly, plainspoken Midwestern transplant whose self-deprecating humor belies a record of success. On June 11, three years after Wartgow "retired" from running Colorado's community college system, he'll take over the 70,000-student Denver school district.
FUNDING: Ohio's urban schools, which teach the state's poorest children and most of its minorities, will receive the smallest increase in aid under an education-funding bill being pushed by Republican legislative leaders, an independent analysis has found.
SCHOOL VIOLENCE: A 14-year-old boy was stabbed twice by a 13-year-old classmate at a middle school in Louisville, Ky.. Authorities said the attack may have occurred after the younger boy asked for a pencil and got no response. Jefferson County police charged the 13-year-old with first-degree assault. The victim was recovering at University of Louisville Hospital following surgery.
FUNDING: Round Lake School District 116 in Illinois has struggled with money woes for years, but now it faces its toughest battle as administrators try to cope with a large deficit, acrimonious union talks and pressure to split or dissolve. A panel appointed by the state to oversee the district's finances recently announced it will wait until January before recommending whether to dissolve or split the district, or overhaul its board.
RENOVATION: Shakespeare School on Chicago's South Side opened its doors last August to the students of North Kenwood/Oakland Charter School and the Ariel Community Academy, but the $12.5 million renovation of the 108-year-old building was not completed until last week. North Kenwood/Oakland, a charter elementary school with an emphasis on literacy, was started in 1998 by the University of Chicago's Center for School Improvement. Ariel, part of the Chicago Public Schools' "small school" program that keeps class sizes low to encourage pupil-teacher interaction, began in 1996 and has an economics and investment curriculum in addition to its regular coursework.
DEMOLITION: Black students at Boston's Northeastern University, angered by a decision to demolish the John D. O'Bryant African-American Institute, chased President Richard Freeland out of the building, ran after his car, and then massed on the street and halted rush-hour traffic. At least 300 students protested the decision to raze the center and replace it with a larger building at the same location that would house additional programs.
FACILITIES: In the latest protest to transfix a Boston campus this month, about 75 students and professors at Roxbury Community College yesterday faced off with the president, Grace C. Brown, over the shabby state of some classrooms, bathrooms, and other facilities at the school.
IMPACT FEES: Developers wanting to construct subdivisions in St. Charles Parish, La., could face additional expenses if the School Board has its way. The St. Charles Parish School Board approved a measure Wednesday that would require residential developers to pay fees toward public schools affected by housing developments.
SECURITY: House Democratic leaders, including Rep. David E. Bonior of Mount Clemens, are pushing for legislation that would bring more counselors and police officers into schools to curb teen violence. Under the five-year proposal, about $3.2 billion would be sent to schools to hire counselors and set up safety programs. The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program also would be expanded--rather than cut as called for in President Bush's budget--to place even more police officers in schools.
CORRUPTION: The manager of a Detroit repair shop has been charged by federal authorities with collecting money for work done on the private cars and trucks of East Detroit schools officials and the district's construction manager. The federal complaint was filed against Mark Trendell, manager of Trendell's Bus and Truck Repair. It is the latest court action in the widespread investigation of public corruption in the 6,000-student school district.
CONSTRUCTION: The Joliet Public Schools District 86 board has endorsed an agreement that could result in two new schools for the city, accommodating up to 900 pupils. Board members have approved an agreement with Joliet officials that will provide $2 million toward securing a state construction grant. The district needs $6.2 million by June 30 as a local match for a state grant of $15.2 million. The district plans to sell about $4.2 million in bonds to generate the rest of the money.
TRANSPORTATION: The Duval County School Board started discussing its bus contracts as it did any other issue. But the pleasant dialogue quickly ceased. Members yelled during heated arguments and pointed fingers. During the most recent meeting on this issue, some members would not even look at one another. "All these events have caused a schism," said School Board Chairwoman Susan Wilkinson. "It will take some leadership and focus on children to make us one again." Related article: An attorney for Duval County School Board member Gwen Gibson has filed a suit questioning Jacksonville General Counsel Rick Mullaney's power. At issue is whether Mullaney had the "power and authority" to void a school board vote. The lawsuit is the latest salvo in a battle over which companies will bus 60,000 students to school each day. The board voted to award the $35 million contract to four companies, including one local one. Days later, the board rescinded the action. Mullaney voided the final vote and reinstated the contract, saying the board's action exposed itself to litigation and threatened the integrity of the bidding process.
WASHROOMS: It's the same story across the Washington D.C. region, students, parents and school officials say. School washrooms often do not have soap. Many administrators acknowledge that school washrooms are trouble spots--costly to equip, maintain and monitor. School vandals often use soap, toilet paper and paper towels to block toilets and cause flooding and other problems.
HEALTH: Baltimore County public school officials are trying to allay the health fears of parents whose children attend a southwest county elementary school that is being renovated. Several parents at Baltimore Highlands Elementary School on Annapolis Road contend their children have suffered from rashes to migraine headaches as a result of the renovations.
CONSTRUCTION: Don't look for construction crews to show up immediately at Cleveland schools. Though clearly thrilled with the district's $380 million bond victory and eager to get started on fixing Cleveland's schools,district CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett says she wants the process to be responsible and methodical....Cleveland school leaders spent two desperate months trying to convince voters that the city's school buildings are in dangerous disrepair, and that the district needed $380 million to fix them. In the end, voters approved the package a stunning 3-to-2 ratio.
GROWTH: In the last seven years, taxpayers in three northern Oakland County, Mich., school districts-- b>Lake Orion, Clarkston and Rochester--have approved multimillion-dollar bonds for new high schools, only to find them already over capacity or close to it. The problem comes from a mix of growth, a state rule that says districts can project enrollment only five years ahead on a bond issue and fear of voter rejection.
SECURITY: Wayne County Prosecutor Mike Duggan is investigating whether Detroit school principals are complying with a 1999 law that requires them to report assaults within schools. The investigation comes after a 12-year-old Hutchins Middle School girl allegedly was raped inside the school last week....The family of the girl was expected to file a gross-negligence lawsuit against the school district. The victim's father says the school has failed to assure that every student will be safe.
CONSTRUCTION: Wayne State University in Detroit will break ground this summer on an $18-million residential hall at its main campus -- the first in more than 20 years -- while renovating 16 research buildings and expanding its fiber-optic network. The six-story residential hall, scheduled to open in the fall of 2002, will offer 360 apartments for incoming freshman.
FINANCES: The University of the District of Columbia poses a financial risk to the city comparable to that of D.C. General Hospital. Auditors released a report that found the school has inadequately managed tens of millions of dollars. The disclosure of management problems comes as the 5,300-student public university in Northwest Washington is searching for a new president and has dismissed its top financial officer.
CONSTRUCTION: Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., has scheduled a groundbreaking ceremony May 19 for a $35 million renovation of its library, the centerpiece of a construction boom at the private liberal arts school. The expansion is scheduled for completion by September 2002 and will increase the size of the library by nearly half.
ELECTION: The fiscal reality of a failed election to raise $126.5 million has hit board members of the Pulaski County Special School District in Arkansas square in the jaw as they began looking for ways to stretch their existing revenues. Residents of the district voted by a 2-to-1 ratio against a proposed 6.9-mill increase in property taxes. The money raised would have helped pay to construct eight new schools and renovate almost all of the school district's 37 buildings.
SCHOOL VIOLENCE: Strapped to a chair in Anchorage District Court, the man accused of slashing four elementary school students stared blankly at a judge and refused to answer any questions. But as guards ushered Jason W. Pritchard out of the courtroom, he erupted. "Kill the young children, kill yourself. Kill the young children first, then kill yourself." Pritchard lived a life that seemed relatively normal and even successful until the mid-1990s, when the command voices and religious delusions of schizophrenia apparently took over his life....In the wake of the attack, school and police officials in Anchorage are reviewing security measures.
MISMANAGEMENT: The San Francisco Unified School District, already under investigation by the FBI for allegedly mishandling a multimillion dollar contract and a grant, is missing $15 million it received from the state for school construction. A report by the accounting firm Arthur Andersen shows that the district received $30 million from the state since 1996 for school construction and modernization, but district employees can account for only half that money.
UTILITIES: An elementary school in rural Kenton County, Ky., is finally getting city water. Visalia Elementary will be connected to the Northern Kentucky Water District's water lines later this month. Of the 20 schools in the Kenton County district, Visalia, which has about 180 students, is the only building still using a cistern.
VENDING: Students in Richland District 1 in South Carolina won't be able to buy a soda or a candy bar on campus between classes next year. Vending machines will be moved out of areas in the elementary schools where they are accessible to students. At the middle and high schools, fruit juice and water will replace carbonated drinks sold in the machines. In addition, candy and similar non-nutritious snacks won't be sold during the school day.
CHARTERS: The St. Paul school board has voted unanimously to end its sponsorship of the Strategies for Success Charter School effective June 8. But in all likelihood, the school's students and teachers will transfer out before the end of the school year, because Strategies for Success is out of money.
PORTABLES: Albuquerque's newest elementary school has romantic -- and expensive -- mountain views. But Seven Bar Elementary's classrooms are cheap, plain, brown -- and, according to Albuquerque Public Schools officials, absolutely necessary. The school, which will open one year ahead of schedule by using 27 portables to relieve overcrowding at nearby elementary schools, is a clear example of the realities of 21st century education.
FUNDING: Alaska legislators have approved $110 million in bonds to pay for three new schools in rural Alaska and provide planning money for a fourth. It will also pay for 28 major school maintenance projects, about $20 million in university projects.
SMART CARDS: Students in an advanced video and computer class at Dearborn High School in Michigan have invented a "smart card" that uses CD-ROM technology to store vital information. At first glance, the card looks like a identification card. But when loaded into a computer's CD-ROM drive, other documents--school records, grades, transcripts, medical information and other personal information--become available.
RENOVATION: Playground fun continues to get safer in Farmington, Mich., schools, where the school district plans to finish renovating 13 playgrounds by fall. The schools will tear out old, dilapidated equipment and replace it with modern structures and playscapes.
SMALL SCHOOLS: With the help of a $2.5 million federal grant, several high schools in the New Orleans area are applying an old philosophy of education that's back in vogue: Small is good. Seven schools in four parishes are adapting the tenets of an educational program that divides large high schools into small, self-contained "academies" focusing on career paths and team-teaching.
TECHNOLOGY: The University of South Dakota will provide Palm handheld computers to all first-year undergraduate students as well as first-year law and medical school students. The initiative, the first in the United States to provide the use of handheld computers by undergraduate students, takes place beginning with the 2001-2002 academic year and affects approximately 1,300 students.
TECHNOLOGY: A school district's order for new books is rarely met with the buzz this year's purchase is generating among teachers and students in Richmond, Va. But these are no ordinary books. The Henrico County Public Schools recently placed what is believed to be one of the largest orders ever for computers by a school district. Its 23,000 new Apple iBook laptops will be enough for every teacher and student in its middle and high schools.
SMALL SCHOOLS: A consultant says forming "schools within a school" could improve District 2 students' academic performance no matter what size facility they attend in Bensenville, Ill. But the findings presented by Jo Anderson, director of the Illinois Education Association's Center for Innovation, did not persuade parents in the to support a controversial proposal to sell the district's four elementary schools and put all 2,200-plus students in an expanded Blackhawk Middle School building.
NEW UNIVERSITY: With a few pen strokes, Texas Gov. Rick Perry gave Dallas its first public university within city limits. But for now, the University of North Texas at Dallas will exist in name only. The bill the governor signed allows the university to be established with a caveat: UNT's System Center at Dallas must first grow from 230 to at least 2,500 full-time students.
CHARTER SCHOOL: Bills have cleared both houses of the Louisiana Legislature laying the groundwork for a charter school at the Naval Air Station in Belle Chasse, La., for children of the region's military personnel, a school that could cost the state $5.5 million annually.
Voters in the Alpine, Utah, school district approved a $200 million bond proposal, the largest in the history of the district. Money from the bonds will pay for eight elementary schools, two junior high schools and 30 renovation projects in the 47,000-student district, which expects to enroll 10,000 additional students in the next five to eight years.
CONSTRUCTION FUNDS: Fulfilling his commitment to build, modernize and renovate classrooms across Maryland, Governor Parris N. Glendening says the state is ahead of schedule to meet its eight-year, $1.6 billion public school construction goal. The final 2002 budget will include $295 million in public school construction funds, bringing the Administration's total investment to $1.486 billion....Baltimore City and fast-growing Howard and Frederick counties were big winners in next year's school construction budget....Maryland's Washington suburbs will receive more than $91 million for school construction and renovation in the coming fiscal year. Prince George's County received will receive $46 million and Montgomery County $45 million.