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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Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom Endorses School Facilities Bond Act of 2016

June 13, 2016

On June 2, the Californians for Quality Schools campaign announced Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has endorsed the Kindergarten Through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2016, the $9 billion state school facilities bond that will appear on the November 2016 ballot.

"The lack of equal opportunity in a student’s educational experience has serious consequences for both the individual student and our state’s economic future. We know that a strong, equitable public education system is a powerful factor in children’s lives, which is why I’m supporting the state school facility bond that ensures every district is able to access funds to create modern 21st Century schools,” said Lt. Governor Newsom. “Every teacher and student needs and deserves a high quality teaching and learning environment that will help students thrive. Passing the bond in November will be a significant step towards that goal.”...

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Assembly Education Committee Chair Patrick O’Donnell Endorses School Facilities Bond

May 31, 2016

On May 23, the Californians for Quality Schools campaign announced that Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) endorsed the Kindergarten Through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2016. The measure, a $9 billion state school facilities bond to adequately fund school construction and modernization projects throughout the state, will appear on the November 2016 ballot. Assemblymember O’Donnell also serves as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Education.

“Having been a classroom teacher for over 20 years, I know firsthand the need for better school facilities for our students. Too many of our schools are in desperate need of major repairs or new classrooms to help address severe overcrowding,” said Assemblymember O’Donnell. “The school facilities bond will also provide critical funds to build and upgrade facilities that support career technical education and job training programs, which are critical to helping returning veterans re-enter the civilian workforce.”...

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Report Shows Systemic Inequity in a State-By-State Analysis of Investment in American School Infrastructure

April 4, 2016

The State of Our Schools: America’s K-12 Facilities report, released on March 23 by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the 21st Century School Fund and the National Council on School Facilities, shows that the nation faces a projected annual shortfall of $46 billion in school funding, despite significant effort on the part of local communities.

“One out of every six people in the U.S. spends each day in a K-12 public school classroom, yet there is very little oversight over America’s public school buildings,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “It is totally unacceptable that there are millions of students across the country who are learning in dilapidated, obsolete and unhealthy facilities that pose obstacles to their learning and overall well-being. U.S. public school infrastructure is funded through a system that is inequitably affecting our nation’s students, and this has to change.”...

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Governor Brown to Oppose $9 Billion School Facilities Bond on November Ballot

February 22, 2016

Governor Jerry Brown – who in recent months has avoided taking a position on a $9 billion school facilities bond measure that will be on the November 2016 ballot – declared on February 12 that he will oppose the measure.

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Brown said:

“I am against the developers’ $9 million bond. It’s a blunderbuss effort that promotes sprawl and squanders money that would be far better spent in low-income communities.”

In recent weeks, there had been behind-the-scenes talks between the Governor and Democratic legislative leaders, in an effort to win the Governor’s support for a bill that might have scheduled a different school facilities bond measure – more to the Governor’s liking – for the ballot in the near future...

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Environmental Protection Agency Releases Guide for Healthier School Renovations

February 8, 2016

On January 28, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a new booklet entitled “Sensible Guide to Healthier School Renovations” that will help schools around the country keep school environment healthy while cleaning up contaminants such as asbestos, mold, mercury, lead, and radon that are associated with school renovations. The guide was announced by EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld during the Children’s Environmental Health Symposium in San Diego, California.

“Our children are more sensitive than adults to environmental contaminants because their respiratory systems are not fully developed, and they are more active,” said Mr. Blumenfeld. “It is critical for schools to understand potential hazards when undertaking renovation projects.”

“Children spend many hours each week in school, and healthy school environments optimize children’s learning potential,” said Dr. Ruth Etzel, EPA’s Director of the Office of Children’s Health Protection...

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