27 May 2008

Big Box Schools

Some of the problems we have in Ohio with State school requirements are also problems across the country according to this article:

When it comes to funding school projects, federal and state agencies are working at cross-purposes: They say they want to curb sprawl, but they promote policies that guarantee it by encouraging new construction over renovation. Federal funding is biased toward the construction of new "healthy, high-performance" schools that meet current energy-efficiency, health, and safety standards, leaving many noncompliant old buildings with little hope for help.

Some policies require schools to be sited on a minimum number of acres, or don't allow renovation of an existing school if it will cost more than a certain percentage-often two-thirds-of a comparable new one. Such rules often omit the hidden costs of new construction, such as land acquisition and infrastructure improvements. Also, school districts are usually barred from federal and state tax incentives for rehabilitating existing buildings.


Anonymous said...

In several ways, the Ohio State Facilities Commission put Cincinnati in a bind.

Their plans require acreage that is rarely available in an urban area. Cincinnati had to ask for a special "dispensation" to work on smaller lots.

They refused to pay for some of the significant land reclamation that needed to be done on some of the school sites, another issue that is more frequent in established areas.

The LEED standards that were incorporated at Pleasant Ridge became part of the OSFC reimbursement-eligible expenses and are included in many schools coming after that one. But they only did this AFTER they were planned out in Pleasant Ridge and they refused to retroactively pay for the costs involved at that school.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that OSFC only reimburses CPS less than 20% of the building costs because we are such a "high wealth" district according to the state funding formula. Other urban areas are funded at a much higher rate--something around 65% in Cleveland, I believe.

And although they will not pay for renovating older schools when it is more cost effective to build new, the Department of Education regulations require CPS to offer empty school buildings at market rate to charter schools. Can't use it; can't sell it without offering it to the competition first.

I don't think you quite appreciate what was done for your school. Fairview, in particular, received a great deal of preferential treatment in terms of program and facility. Every "extra" that went into or could have gone into that school would have had to come out of some other school's budget. So get a parent group together and improve the landscaping.

CityKin said...

^We're on the landscaping.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very thankful for what we got. But just because I'm thankful doesn't mean I can't also be critical.

Could you clarify what the extras are that Fairview got? We are new to the school and obviously were not involved at all in the process.

thanks for the comment.