Friday, April 22, 2016

The Key To Fixing School Buildings is a Padlock in the Office not the Classroom.

Some futurists fear we may be creating a caste system in the United States based on unequal access to quality education.
Education in Virginia, and everywhere in the United States, remains the domain of local governments. This is particularly true for raising the funds to modernize deteriorating K-12 facilities.
A school building is considered obsolete at age 40. The average K-12 facility in Virginia, and America, is 46 years old. Around half will soon be old enough to be considered for historic building status.
In 1960, Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard M. Nixon agreed that the United States’ global competitiveness demanded modernization of the nation’s education infrastructure. They promised action.
Back then, lawmakers believed making school construction bonds — the main source of building funds — tax-free would solve the financing problem. Tax-free status allowed the bonds to carry a lower but still competitive interest rate for investors while modestly reducing overall project costs.
By the 1990s, then-President Bill Clinton acknowledged the nation’s K-12 facilities were crumbling. The old approach hadn’t worked.
In a new class of school construction bonds, localities would still pay back the bonds’ principal, while Uncle Sam paid the interest. This would further lower overall costs, theoretically making once unaffordable projects doable.
But whatever the policy-paper potential, it hasn’t worked.
By 2008, candidate Barack Obama declared the K-12 facilities deterioration a national crisis. In 2009, President Obama proposed the federal government borrow hundreds of billions of dollars to give directly to localities for school construction.
The proposal failed to garner support even from a Democratic-controlled Congress, as did a smaller proposal once Republicans took control.
Now comes 2016 and Richmond.
The city’s leaders have long known Clinton and Obama were right: The River City’s school buildings are obsolete.
Rather than address this reality, or the documented health and safety problems these decrepit buildings pose to students and teachers, the city’s leadership focused instead on building a new minor league baseball stadium.
That is when they weren’t using city money to lure the Washington Redskins summer camp, bike races, and breweries.
The current stadium was built in 1985.
The average school was built in 1955.
Since 2009, Richmond leaders have known the state’s top lawmakers – a bipartisan array of governors and senators – have championed a proven approach called federal historic tax credit financing. It would lower local school modernization costs in many cases by 30 percent to 40 percent.
How good is their proposal? Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is using it to finance his new hotel on the site of the Old Post Office in the District.
But thanks to an arcane glitch in the federal tax code, cities like Richmond can’t use it to upgrade aging school stock.
When Sen. Tim Kaine was governor of Virginia, he and then-Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner implored Congress to fix the law, knowing it would save localities such as Richmond hundreds of millions of dollars in construction costs. Virginia Republicans, led by former governor George Allen, provided bipartisan backing.
But they lacked what is demanded in today’s 24/7 media: a local champion for what is seen as primarily a local issue.
It isn’t enough studies from Virginia Tech show how condemning kids to attend class in unhealthy and unsafe school buildings create lasting educational problems.
It isn’t enough to show how detrimental such environments are to teachers and their health.
It isn’t enough to show how a new financing plan could save cities millions in construction costs – money that could be used for instruction and teachers.
It isn’t enough to be right; you have to be relentlessly repetitive to be heard over all the shouting.
This can only happen if the new mayor actually gives a damn about the city’s public school kids.
MY BLOG COMMENT:I believe it high time to stop using the ballot box to approve construction bond financing to modernize schools at the county level. Florida Parent Empowerment Law 1002.33 (3b) is the only ballot based Parent trigger law in the US. It needs to be amended to eliminate Teacher's veto power in separate ballot elections and revert to passing it, re-branded as in your state. It is more empowering idea to reduce the size and scope of facility inventory that School Districts manage than continue being coalesced and coerced by them and US Federal Department of Education. Unified neighborhoods should feel compelled to call the vote of the student body parents to vote YES to act guardian of school's budget in order to save budget surpluses annually for redevelopment of facilities. The Governing Boards will be elected in reinvented PTA Culture . The key to solving the malaise in public school was thought to be in the classroom. It is not. It is a combination padlock in the Principal office. Call the intra-school vote save surpluses annually , seek matching grant sponsorship from the largest employer, foreign embassies and Chamber of Commerce in a locality in exchange for tracking students academically throughout the K-12 career. Create priority list for entry level jobs upon high graduation or empower them further with scholarships to advance them academically at College or trade School. DOE is eliminated and Federal Dollars go directly SDOE to Governing Schools that achieved have surpluses with matching grants. I was the first in Florida history to use Florida's law to set the legal precedent and discover their was $1,083,000.00 surplus annually based on increase in property values in our municipality that was being diverted county wide for 20 years. Even after a $5 Million dollar renovation the school was not raised nor expanded to mitigate severe overcrowding. The K8 Center still sits below sea level on barrier island. Grow Up America take back your school.

No comments:

Post a Comment