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Author Archives: Cailin

School Facilities Belong in the Nation’s Infrastructure Portfolio

Posted on by Mary Filardo and Jeff Vincent

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently issued its 2017 report card rating 16 different categories of infrastructure. ASCE includes public school facilities in their infrastructure rating—grading them a D+. However, state and federal plans to rebuild and modernize America’s infrastructure, often omit schools from our nation’s infrastructure portfolio.

 

 

Public school buildings and grounds need to be fully included in state and federal planning and funding for the nation’s infrastructure. 

 

First, just like other major water, transit, or port infrastructure, school facilities projects require long range planning and forecasting to ensure efficient use of land and other resources.  Our nation’s public schools are estimated to be, on average, 44 years old and are multi-purpose facilities in our communities. They are shelters in case of emergencies or disasters, civic centers for voting and public meetings, community hubs for social activities, and green space for parks and recreation. The quality and character of public school facilities affects the larger community over generations. Comprehensive and joint state, regional and municipal planning is critical to environmental and fiscal sustainability across public infrastructure assets.  

Second, public school infrastructure, is financed through bonds repaid over many years. Public school construction, like water treatment plants and other infrastructure with multi-generational use, employs capital financing to pay for design, construction and major improvements.  This financing of capital requires complex policy and finance associated with securing debt, and the need for adequate revenue streams for repayment. Local school districts alone, had $409 billion of long term debt at the end of fiscal year 2014.  School construction is a close 2nd to highways in average annual capital outlay for state and local expenditures.

Third, like nearly all public works projects, the nearly $50 billion a year for school district capital outlay is delivered by the private for-profit building industry.  The management and delivery of school construction and building improvements are done under the authority of public commissions, boards, and administrators, but the work is delivered through contracts with private companies. School districts share with their counterparts in water, transportation, utilities and other sectors the need to manage private industry expertise, services and interests from the public interest.

But perhaps most important, is that public education is mission critical to the health, safety and prosperity of our nation.  The transfer of knowledge from one generation to another through our public educational system is an essential personal AND public responsibility. The United States has developed a remarkable physical infrastructure – of school buildings and grounds that both delivers education and keeps our children engaged and safe while their parents and guardians work.

It is beyond time, for our leaders in K-12 public school facilities to be at the “transportation and infrastructure” table.  State and local public school facilities officials need to be in all state and federal discussions about rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.  


This article originally appeared in School Planning & Management, May 2017.


School facilities and student physical activity

Posted on by Hannah Thompson, PhD

National experts recommend that, for optimal health, youth get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) a day - which is the kind of movement that gets you sweating and breathing harder. However, youth are far from meeting this recommendation. And, unfortunately, significant disparities exist by age, sex, race/ethnicity, and income. The Institute of Medicine has, logically, identified the school setting as an ideal venue for increasing access to physical activity among diverse youth. Image Credit: Hannah Thompson However, many obstacles get in the way of students getting MVPA at school. We know that with limited funding, resources,…


Tardiness and Poor School Facility Conditions are Interconnected

Posted on by Amanda Eppley, CC+S

The California Department of Education’s new California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) provides loads of insight for state and local leaders into what makes for healthy school environments…and what doesn’t. A perpetually overlooked aspect of school health and overall school climate is the condition of a school’s facilities and grounds. Here at the Center for Cities + Schools, we’ve looked at this issue in a number of studies  – and we have found alarming patterns of underinvestment in California’s K-12 facilities , which raise serious questions about whether or not children are attending school facilities that are healthy, safe, in good repair,…


Detroit Students Promote the Campaign for Healthy Schools

Posted on by Shirl Buss

The Center for Cities + Schools in collaboration with Wayne State University’s Volunteers, Administrators and Coaches (VAC) have been implementing Y-PLAN Initiatives over the past nine years.  For the past two years students have been engaged in a multi-year effort to promote healthy eating and active living in the schools, housing developments, and neighborhoods in the urban core of Detroit.   As part of this effort, the children ages 4-14 at Brewster Homes and Parkside Village, created posters as a public awareness campaign to increase healthy behavior and healthier school environments.   Students, like young illustrator Martez Vance (pictured here), worked…


NEW GENTRIFIERS? STUDYING THE EFFECTS OF CHARTER SCHOOLS ON NEIGHBORHOODS IN LOS ANGELES

Posted on by Anne Robertson

By BROCK HICKS   The number—and the proportion—of students enrolled in public charter schools (independently run public schools) is increasing nationwide, particularly in urban school districts. The public policy debate in education on the pros and cons of charter schools remains tenuous and divided. Market-oriented educational reformers favor charter schools as the answer to the problems in urban public school systems; public and private funds available for constructing and running charter schools continue to increase. However, charter schools have many critics. For example, in 2016 the NAACP and the Black Lives Matter Movement passed resolutions critical of charter schools and…


City – School Partnerships A Natural Home for Health Equity:

Posted on by Cailin

Y-PLAN Richmond and the Shift Towards Health in All Classrooms As featured on the Build Healthy Places Network blog.  August 30, 2016 | Deborah L. McKoy and Megan Calpin In 2015, sixty students peered out at a local landfill as a community elder and environmental justice activist spoke about the persistent health problems caused by the city’s industrial heritage. The students are in their local high school’s health academy, and are beginning to ponder the future health and sustainability of their community. Richmond stands at a crossroads of an environmental justice and health equity movement. The land beneath their feet…


Designing Outdoor Play and Learning Environments

Posted on by Cailin
Filed under: School Facilities,

We get a lot of random requests for information here at CC+S. Here’s one we’ve had more than once: “What are best practices for the design of outdoor play and learning environments at schools?"  We recently got an email about this from a parent in Hawai’i. As my colleagues and I put together a shortlist of key resources for her, it occurred to me that it was worth sharing. So here goes. Big kudos to CC+S’s Creative Director, Shirl Buss, who put most of this info together.  In no particular order, these firms and organizations have done innovative work in playground design: Robin…


Full Service Schools in a Full Service City

Posted on by Cailin
Filed under: School Facilities,

Desiree Carver-Thomas is working with the City of Richmond to examine the way in which communities and schools positively interact to create beneficial outcomes. Her project: Implementing the Full Service Community Schools Initiative, aims to increase the presence of full service schools across Richmond.  Desiree is a first-year Master of Public Policy student at the Goldman School, interested in education policy and social welfare. She came to Berkeley after teaching for five years in New York City public elementary schools. She's committed to working on issues of equity and community empowerment in public education. A full service community school (FSCS) is “both a place and a…


Advancing Project-Based Learning in OUSD: Best Practices and Tradeoffs

Posted on by Cailin

Kate Glassman is passionate about promoting instructional practices that encourage students in grades K-12 to engage in meaningful inquiry and undergo personal transformation. She cares deeply about harnessing social policy to increase the professional capacity of teachers in public schools, and to expand educational opportunities for low-income students, foster youth, and English language learners. Kate is a first year Master of Public Policy (MPP) student at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. Before beginning graduate school, Kate taught argumentative writing at a public high school within the Ministry of Education of Singapore. Prior to teaching abroad, Kate worked as a third grade teacher for…


Aligning Linked Learning with Market Trends

Posted on by Cailin

Raúl Chavez's research interests include emerging adults and employment issues, vocational identity development, and social policy analysis. Raúl is a second-year doctoral student at the School of Social Welfare. He has over eight combined years of public service experience at the FBI, CIA, US Department of Health and Human Services, and County of Los Angeles.  As a PLUS fellow with the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and the Association of Bay Area Governments, I am working to aggregate data, information, and knowledge from various sources to make recommendations for how the OUSD can strengthen its relationships with employers as part of its work-based learning…