Articles in the School Buildings category

NSBA provides FCC with recommendations to improve E-Rate

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel issued the following comments on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Public Notice on the Wireline Competition Bureau Seeks Focused Comment on E-rate Modernization to provide key recommendations to modernize the E-rate program and increase the quality and speed of Internet connectivity in our nation’s schools and libraries.  NSBA applauds the FCC’s proactive efforts to ensure efficient operation and integrity of E-rate; increase the quality and speed of connectivity in our nation’s schools; and address the technology gaps that remain.

Gentzel’s full comment are available and an excerpt of the recommendations are below:

“For nearly twenty years, NSBA has supported the goals of the E-rate program to increase Internet connectivity and provide digital learning opportunities to underserved students, schools and libraries. NSBA is steadfast in its support for the ConnectED initiative and applauds the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) focus on broadband deployment in education, so that students are prepared to be competitive and successful in the global marketplace.

“To successfully usher in a new future for E-rate, NSBA urges the FCC to ground modernization of E-Rate in the individual circumstances of the nation’s 14,000 school districts and 98,000 public schools. Put eloquently by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association: School entities across the nation are diverse in their composition and their needs. Local decision-making and local flexibility should be maximized in implementation of the E-rate program.

“Further, NSBA’s recommendations are predicated on the need for additional resources in the E-rate program. Simply repurposing or rearranging priorities for the $2.5 billion E-rate program is not sufficient to achieve the ambitious goals of the ConnectED initiative, and could impact school district finances and operations in ways that make it even more difficult for low-income and rural schools and libraries to meet the instructional needs of their students. Therefore, in addition to NSBA’s filings of September 16, 2013 and November 8, 2013, we recommend the following:

“1. Focus $2 billion in one-time funding for E-rate on Priority 2 services for broadband deployment, and assure that additional schools and libraries have access to the funds. The onetime funding described in paragraph 7 is best suited for initial and one-time investments in broadband deployment such as internal connections, as opposed to ongoing operating costs. Further, there has been a dearth of funding for Priority 2 in recent years, so that only a small number of schools benefit. NSBA recommends that affirmative steps be taken to assure that a one-time infusion of Priority 2 funds is disseminated to schools and libraries that have not had access to such funds in the last five years.

“2. Voice and other legacy services – Establish a menu of options for schools and libraries making transitions to broadband. NSBA supports refocusing E-rate on broadband connectivity, but cautions against eliminating eligible uses of E-rate funds without support for school districts during the transition. An across-the-board approach to elimination or phase down of support for legacy services as described in paragraphs 40 – 46 is not responsive to school districts, whose current equipment, hardware, connectivity, access to broadband, contracting obligations, and other circumstances will vary. NSBA recommends a case-by-case approach and flexible timeframes for transitioning E-rate eligibility to broadband.

“3. Demonstration and pilot programs – Eliminate demonstration programs, pilots, or other carve outs from E-Rate 2.0 unless they are resourced by other Universal Service or alternative funds. While there is great potential in the innovations described in paragraphs 55 – 61 to streamline E-rate and make the program more efficient and effective at meeting the needs of schools and libraries, they should not come at the expense of the School and Libraries Fund itself, which is severely oversubscribed.”

View NSBA’s Issue Brief on E-rate.

 

Alexis Rice|April 4th, 2014|Categories: Educational Technology, Federal Advocacy, Rural Schools, School Boards, School Buildings|Tags: , , , |

St. Bernard Parish Public Schools host education site visit during NSBA’s Annual Conference

While at NSBA’s Annual Conference, attend a site visit to St. Bernard Parish Public Schools on Monday, April 7 from 8:30 am – 2:00 pm on, “Building for the Future.”

The district looked at the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina as an opportunity to re-imagine learning, and based on the best research available, created 21st century learning environments to support their students and strengthen their community. Hear their story and then add this amazing program to your conference schedule when you collect your badge at Registration. The visit also includes a brief loop through New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward to understand the magnitude of devastation and recovery challenges and a quick visit to the Holy Cross Visitor Center to tour a model green home.

This is a ticketed event that includes lunch, fees, and transportation. Registration is no longer available online, but you can stop by the Annual Conference Registration Desk at the Convention Center to sign up.

Alexis Rice|April 2nd, 2014|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Boards, School Buildings|Tags: , , |

New fluorescent lighting rules would be expensive and unnecessary for schools, NSBA tells EPA

Saying new regulations would be costly and unnecessary, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and two other prominent education groups are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to issue further requirements concerning the removal of a group of harmful chemicals — Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) — that are commonly found in light fixtures in public buildings constructed prior to 1980.

In a joint letter to EPA’s Director of the National Program Chemicals Division, NSBA; the Association of School Business Officials International; and AASA, The School Superintendents Association said a recent survey the three groups conducted of more than 1,200 school board members, superintendents, school business officials, and maintenance/facilities personnel found that the vast majority of school districts are aware of the issue and “are overwhelmingly already removing PCBs.”

Of those responding to the survey who have buildings their districts constructed prior to 1980, 77.5 percent said they were aware of PCB issues in their schools, with 66 percent actively removing PCBs in all or some of the schools in their district. Only 11.5 percent were aware but not actively addressing these issues. In addition, only 2.1 percent of the 1,200 respondents reported having any PCB-related issue in their schools in the past two years.

“School administrators, school board members, and school business officials remain steadfast in their commitment to providing the students they serve with an excellent education in a safe learning environment, which includes removing potentially harmful environmental factors (like PCBs),” the letter said. “With any federal policy/regulation, the success of the end goal — in this case, elimination of light ballasts with PCBs — depends as much on the policy itself as it does in recognizing the importance of not only state and local leadership but also the unintended consequences, costs and burdens that may come with the rule.”

The new regulations could pose significant financial and operational challenges to schools, which would be responsible for identifying, inspecting, and upgrading light figures that were installed before 1980 to ensure that PCBs were eliminated.

Lawrence Hardy|March 27th, 2014|Categories: Environmental Issues, Federal Advocacy, School Buildings|Tags: , , , , , , |

NSBA encouraging school districts to weigh in EPA fluorescent lighting proposed regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering requiring school districts to remove a group of harmful chemicals—Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)—from facilities. PCBs are commonly found in old fluorescent lighting fixtures in public buildings built before 1980, including schools. This proposed regulation could pose significant financial and operational challenges to schools, which would be responsible to identify, inspect and upgrade light fixtures that were installed prior to 1980 to ensure PCBs are eliminated.

The National School Boards Association; AASA, the School Superintendents Association; and the Association of School Business Officials International are collaborating to make sure that the full impact of this proposed regulation is recorded as part of the discussion; we kindly request your assistance. Please take this short survey about district facilities and PCBs by March 17, 2014. Results of the survey will be forwarded to EPA for their consideration.

Alexis Rice|March 7th, 2014|Categories: Policy Formation, Rural Schools, School Buildings, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , , , |

Sandy Hook tragedy teaches lessons on school security

Thomas J. Gentzel, the Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), reflected on the first anniversary of the Dec. 14, 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. with this statement:

“The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary one year ago shook the nation. Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those in Newtown who were affected on that horrific day.

“One year later, the nation continues to memorialize the 26 adults and children who were killed at the school, support their survivors, grieve, and move forward. For school board members, the urgency of making schools around the country safer and more responsive to future threats is an ongoing imperative and legacy of the Newtown shootings.

“As part of their duties, school boards must ensure that school buildings keep children and school personnel safe without becoming fortresses. In cases of natural disasters and man-made situations, school buildings – equipped with high-occupancy gymnasiums and cafeterias – are often the first shelter, serving as community safe havens and command posts. School boards recognize that even the best emergency preparedness policy is perishable, and they are monitoring and improving their districts’ policies on a routine basis.

“School districts can ensure that parents and the community have a clear and actionable understanding of emergency response plans. One example is parental notification – to clear the path for first responders and their emergency vehicles, parents are often directed to a designated area away from the school where they can safely receive real-time updates.

“Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, there has been much debate on whether armed security guards should be used to protect the nation’s schools, or whether teachers or other school staff should be armed. In cases when a community deems school security is essential, NSBA believes that only sheriff’s deputies and police officers should be hired as school resource officers. Trained to deploy their weapons in the safest way possible and to take action that minimizes collateral damage, sheriff’s deputies and police officers have ‘qualified immunity’ that affords school districts the legal protection they need in case of any unintended consequences that could arise in carrying out their duties.

“As we approach this first anniversary, NSBA joins world and national leaders, state and local governments, community leaders, and people across the country in remembering those affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy. Times like these give us great pause because they remind us not only of the fragility of life but also of the bravery and resilience shown by Newtown’s teachers and school administrators, the students and parents, and the first responders on Dec. 14, 2012. Our nation’s 90,000 school board members will honor them as we continue our efforts to educate and protect our school children and school personnel who work in America’s public schools each day.”

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 11th, 2013|Categories: Bullying, Crisis Management, Environmental Issues, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Policy Formation, School Buildings, School Climate, School Security|Tags: , , , , , |

NSBA teaches architects about school boards at EdSpaces event

Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), will deliver an education session at EdSpaces in San Antonio on December 4. The session “Presenting Proposals to School Boards” is aimed at architects and dealers bidding on school design projects to help them bring the proper attention to their firm’s capabilities and expertise.

The start of a new school building project begins with a proposal to the school board that explains an architect’s vision for the site and how it will meet the needs of the student and educator population. Gentzel will provide advice on what architects and designers can do to set themselves apart from their competition and avoid costly mistakes.

“It’s important for architects and designers to understand not only the role of the school board but also the needs of the local community,” Gentzel said. “A school board may want to incorporate features such as environmentally friendly design or build areas for their community’s use, and architects must be able to decifer their needs and deliver those on what are always tight budgets.”

Gentzel noted that a school construction project is a major endeavor for any school district, and districts want designs that will be adaptable in coming decades.

“We’re delighted that NSBA is contributing education content that will help school leaders make the best decision for educational facilities of the future,” says Jim McGarry, President/CEO of NSSEA. “With over 120 school districts attending EdSpaces, school board members will be meeting with the vendors, dealers, architects and designers to discuss how trends are affecting the solutions available for today’s learning spaces.”

The National School Supply and Equipment Association (NSSEA) produces EdSpaces, which is designed as the destination for school district and college officials to meet with manufacturers, dealers, architects, designers, and facilities planners to explore the impact of facilities on learning, discover new products and plan the Pre-K through higher education learning environments of tomorrow. EdSpaces includes a CEU-accredited education conference, led by many of the world’s top architects and designers, and focused on state-of-the-art, sustainable design and creative design/construction solutions. The EdSpaces exhibit hall showcases the most diverse range of innovative products for students of all ages.

For more information on this year’s event, held Dec. 4-6, 2013 in San Antonio, visit www.Ed-Spaces.com.

Joetta Sack-Min|December 4th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Conferences and Events, School Boards, School Buildings, School Security|Tags: , , |

NSBA’s President discusses the New NSBA and school board leadership on Education Talk Radio

David A. Pickler

David A. Pickler, President of the National School Boards Association and member of Tennessee’s Shelby County Board of Education, was a guest on Education Talk Radio for a two part interview. Pickler discussed the “New NSBA,” school board leadership, vouchers,  the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, and his experiences and leadership on his local school board.

Listen to the interviews:

Part 1:

Listen to internet radio with EduTalk on BlogTalkRadio

Part 2:

Listen to internet radio with EduTalk on BlogTalkRadio
Alexis Rice|May 30th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Privatization, Public Advocacy, School Buildings, School Vouchers|Tags: , |

Oklahoma State School Boards Association helps tornado-torn district recover

Tornados are a fact of life in Oklahoma. That’s especially true in the central and western portions of the state, which belong to a region that includes parts of nine states and is dubbed “Tornado Alley.” Shaped, fittingly, like a cylinder, it stretches north from Texas to South Dakota and is the area of the country where tornados are among the most numerous and severe.

The town of Moore, south of Oklahoma City, is in the heart of Tornado Alley. Its residents are familiar with the storms and the damage they can cause. But nothing could prepare residents for two major tornados that hit the town in 14 years: the first in May of 1999; the second, this past Monday.

The May 3, 1999, tornado killed 36 people. In mid-afternoon on Monday, May 20, another tornado killed 24 people and destroyed 13,000 structures, including the district headquarters of the Moore Public Schools and two of its elementary school buildings. At Plaza Towers Elementary School, where teachers herded student into hallways and bathrooms, seven children died.

Right after the most recent storm, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA) began accepting gifts of school supplies at its Oklahoma City headquarters, as well as monetary gifts for the stricken district, said Jeff B. Mills, a former superintendent and OSSBA’s executive director. Mills spoke with ASBJ Senior Editor Lawrence Hardy on May 22, two days after the most recent storm hit.

How is OSSBA helping?

[We’re] just trying to be a resource for them. Many of their phone lines and cell phone services are down. They can’t get their e-mail, either. Just offering support, prayers — anything they need.

How is the district coping?

Their administration building was destroyed. Their records, fortunately, are off site; but when you’ve got your computer down, you feel helpless. But if you have your whole administration building down, it’s very difficult. It’s definitely a struggle. They’re trying to move on. They’re going to go ahead with their graduation this weekend. And they’ll deal with the losses that they have and start rebuilding.

What’s been the response to the drop off site for school supplies?

There’s been an unbelievable outpouring. We’ve got a truck coming from Nebraska tomorrow. We’ve got a couple of trailers that have been loaded up down around Florida coming this way, and just from all over the country. People just are hurting for Moore and wanting to do something, and we wanted to make sure we were able be an outlet for them.

We’re working with Feed the Children here in Oklahoma City to help distribute immediate needs like water and Gatorade bottles, diapers, hand sanitizers, gloves — those types of things we get in. But the school supplies we’ll store for the district and then hold back until they’re ready to receive them, because the last thing they need is us showing up with a truckload of pens and pencils right now. But they’ll need them in the fall.

Have you been to Moore since the tornado?

No. You can’t unless you’re a state official or a first responder — or actually live there.

As a former Oklahoma superintendent, have you ever dealt with anything like this?

No, I never did. Of course we had storm issues — we always do in Oklahoma. Nothing like this. When it hit [Moore] in ’99, the schools weren’t in session; they were already out for the day. It destroyed some schools, and they had to be rebuilt. Basically, [the most recent storm] traveled the same path. The big thing that’s happened in Moore since ’99 is just a huge growth spurt, not only in housing but in retail. The area that it came through, it followed that same path — there’s been a lot of lot of expansion in retail, highway frontage, building activity that is basically gone.

What are some of the challenges facing school board member in the coming months?

I think just the overwhelming idea that, “I’ve got to deal with all of this.” It’s not just one area, one issue. And then the things that will linger once the kids come back and classmates are gone or staff members are gone. They’ll be, I’m sure, a lot of counseling hours, and then just rebuilding. It’ll be a challenge, but they are a very strong board. The members are very dedicated and focused on what they need for the children.

How will the state respond in the long term?

We’ve faced things like this before in Oklahoma, just like other states deal with tragedy.  And we’ve always come out of it in a positive way. We’ll rebuild and start over. People are very resilient here, and they’re going to focus on what they can do for their kids. And we’re going to be there to support the schools and their board, and anything we can do to make that happen we’re going to do.

For information on how to contribute to OSSBA’s efforts for Moore, go here.

ASBJ has compiled an anthology of articles on disaster recovery for school districts, available in hard copy or as a downloadable PDF. Purchasing information is available here.

Lawrence Hardy|May 24th, 2013|Categories: American School Board Journal, Crisis Management, School Boards, School Buildings, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , |

ASBJ bonus article on how a district turned renovation into motivation

There’s no such thing as a free lunch – you’ve heard that, surely. You’ve also heard that you can’t get something for nothing.

Those statements are true, most of the time. But for our online readers of ASBJ, we offer something for nothing in the form of bonus articles found only on our website. This week, the superintendent of Caroline County Public Schools in Bowling Green, Va., Gregory N. Killough details how one of his elementary schools made educational lemonade out of lemons in the form of renovation construction.

The Junior Foreman program involved second-graders, hard hats, blueprints, and forklifts. Read the article to find out how the program worked.

And while you’re on ASBJ.com, remember to take this month’s Adviser poll and check out our archive of other bonus articles designed to help school board members do their jobs.

Kathleen Vail|May 22nd, 2013|Categories: American School Board Journal, School Buildings|Tags: |

Supporting healthy learning environments

April 30, 2013 marks the 11th annual National Healthy Schools Day, a growing national movement that works to improve schools’ indoor air quality as it adversely impacts women and children. School environments play an important role in the health and academic success of children. Each school day, 55 million children and 7 million adults — 20 percent of the total U.S. population and 98 percent of all children—spend their days inside school buildings. The National School Boards Association (NSBA) was a sponsor of this year’s National Healthy Schools Day.

National Health School Day

April 30, 2013 is National Health School Day

“Schools play a critical role in addressing the physical, mental, social, and environmental factors related to health and well-being that can affect student learning,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director. “NSBA and local school boards across the country are committed to developing effective policies and practices to create healthy learning environments to help position students for success in school and throughout their lifetimes. We commend the 11th annual National Healthy Schools Day as an important way to raise awareness about the need for healthy learning environments in America’s schools.”

This year, in recognition of the importance of a healthy school environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded nearly $750,000 in “capacity building” grants to five states — Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. These grants will be used to help states implement comprehensive K-12 school environmental health programs using the new Voluntary Guidelines for States: Development and Implementation of a School Environmental Health Program.

To learn more what your school district can do to create healthy learning environments in your schools, go to National Health Schools Day and EPA’s schools websites.

Alexis Rice|April 30th, 2013|Categories: School Boards, School Buildings, Student Achievement, Wellness|Tags: , |
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