From NPR

Let's begin with a choice.

Say there's a check in the mail. It's meant to help you run your household. You can use it to keep the lights on, the water running and food on the table. Would you rather that check be for $9,794 or $28,639?

It's not a trick question. It's the story of America's schools in two numbers.

That $9,794 is how much money the Chicago Ridge School District in Illinois spent per child in 2013 (the number has been adjusted by Education Week to account for regional cost differences). It's well below that year's national average of $11,841.

Ridge's two elementary campuses and one middle school sit along Chicago's southern edge. Roughly two-thirds of its students come from low-income families, and a third are learning English as a second language.

Here, one nurse commutes between three schools, and the two elementary schools share an art teacher and a music teacher. They spend the first half of the year at different schools, then, come January, box up their supplies and swap classrooms.

View report

Mongeau, L., 2016

SCHUTES NATIONAL FOREST, Ore. — It was early evening in late May. Dinner was done and caper crews of students — “caper” is camp-speak for “chore” — had stacked the firewood into wheelbarrows, swept the dining hall floor, and (eew!) cleaned the bathrooms. The fading spring light slanted through the trees as the girls from Dogwood Cabin headed back to their bunks to practice their end-of-week skit.

“It’s not that bad,” a counselor the campers called Ivy told the 11- and 12-year-olds, nervous about their upcoming acting debuts. “I remember doing it when I went to camp. It’s actually fun.”

“Ivy” is really Kelsee Morgan, 16, a junior in high school. Like every girl in her tent, she attends school in Crook County, Oregon. And, like every girl in her tent, she went to this camp in May of her sixth grade year.

Read Article

Bendici, R.

Historic schools in Boston, built before World War II, are finally receiving a facelift.

On the other side of the country, Carmel USD in California found that controlling and maintaining lighting in nine sites spread over 600 square miles can save energy and maintenance hours.And a 10-year deferred maintenance plan in Sycamore Community Schools in Cincinnati will ensure that statewide testing will be smooth and glitch-free.

Such projects represent just a fraction of construction work underway across the nation’s schools.

View Article

Williams, L. (2014)

Administrators budgeting for construction have the tools and access to ensure their buildings’ shells—the roofs, windows and insulation—are energy-efficient and easy to maintain.

“School administrators have gone from not really thinking much about roofs and other exteriors to thinking how they can maximize the performance of buildings and lower costs,” Jared Blum, president of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association, told DA.

There are many issues to consider when selecting roofs, windows and insulation that lower energy costs.

View Article

American School and University, 2016

The University of Rochester will begin construction this summer on a 72,000-square-foot residence hall.

The building, scheduled to open on the Rochester, N.Y., campus in 2017, has been designed to accommodate 151 first-year students and will integrate academics, athletics, and student life into the residential experience, the university says.

The main level of the facility will be dedicated to academic and student life services. This space will include meeting rooms for study groups and workshops, and offices that will be available for health professions, as well as career, academic, fellowship and STEM advising.

View Article

American School and University, 2016

Colorado school districts looking to bolster security are planning to spend millions of dollars upgrading locks on classroom doors.

The Denver Post says the districts need the equipment retrofits to comply with an updated Colorado Division of Fire and Prevention Control code requirement that that calls for public, charter and junior colleges to have locks in designated classrooms that can be locked from the inside.

View Article

NBC News, 2016

The expert who blew the whistle on the Flint water crisis says the only way to protect the nation's school children against lead in drinking water is regular testing of virtually every fountain or sink they might use during the day.

But an NBC News survey of the country's 20 biggest cities shows that very few school districts have met that standard.

View Video and Report

Fichman, 2015

More than 760,000 trucks pass through El Paso’s two entry points from Mexico each year; it is the highest-ranked city for carbon monoxide levels in Texas and rates eighth in the nation for particulate pollution. Traces of air pollution can be found in the school classroom, affecting minority students disproportionately.

Researchers from the University of Texas show that the overall GPA of fourth- and fifth-graders in public schools dropped 0.02–0.04 points for every one standard deviation increase in greater exposure to toxic substances in the air. Despite excessive truck traffic, non-road sources were shown to have the greatest effect, including pollution from an international airport, a bi-national freight station, and a military base.

View Article

Building Green, 2013

As awareness about air quality in schools has reached unprecedented levels in the U.S., one major indoor pollutant remains widely unaddressed: radon.

It might not be the most trendy topic for building interiors, but soil chemistry hasn’t changed since scientists first discovered high radon concentrations in buildings in the 1980s—nor has the fact that radon is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths in the U.S. (tobacco smoke is number one).

View Article