Civic

Public Education and Sustainable Community Planning in California

Posted on: September 16th, 2010 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Elaine Stiles  

California has over 10,000 schools, with districts ranging in size from seven to nearly 700,000 students. Pictured here is a historic high school building in El Segundo.

Ten thousand schools. Districts ranging in size from seven to nearly 700,000 students. More than $100 billion (yes, billion) in state and local school bond issues in the past decade. Approximately 1,000 independent school districts that operate outside of local and regional planning and approval processes.  

These are just a few features of the vast, complex landscape that is school facilities planning in California.  

Two weeks ago in Sacramento, approximately 50 educators, planners, environmental professionals, policy analysts – and me representing the preservation field – met to discuss how California can amend its K-12 school facilities planning policies to be more supportive of sustainable community development. The scale of California’s public school system and the state’s recently enacted environmental performance measures make this an essential conversation. Californians produce 1.4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, primarily from motor vehicle trips. To shrink this number, current state law mandates both a reduction of California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 (AB 32), and that regional and local planning bodies aid reduction by eliminating vehicle miles traveled by curbing sprawl (SB 375). As in most states, California’s public school districts make decisions about the placement of core community assets that influence growth, transportation, and infrastructure investment patterns, all of which in turn impact a community’s environmental footprint.  

Participants in the round table, Smart Schools for Sustainable Communities: Aligning Sustainable Communities Planning and Public Education in California, recommended changing school siting policies, integrating school facility and local planning efforts, co-locating facilities with other community uses, creating incentives for choosing infill development sites, and increasing state capital investment in existing schools to support greater community sustainability.  

For me, one of the most striking discussions was on increasing state investment in existing school facilities. This topic would naturally prick up the ears of someone like me who cares about maintaining historic and community-centered schools, but incentivizing reuse of existing buildings is also a straightforward and easily-implemented solution to limiting sprawl, reducing costs, and keeping schools near their students.  

As the discussion unfolded, it became clear that the need for capital investment in existing schools in California is high, but that the level of the state’s funding assistance for rehabilitation and retrofitting needs to be reevaluated. The California Department of Education has a $3.3 billion, bond-funded modernization program that assists districts with improvements to existing school facilities. Established in 1968, the program guidelines basically reflect that time period, when building new schools in California’s booming suburbs defined the state’s school facilities program. Parameters such as a 25-year age threshold; a lower state match than for new construction; and eligible activities limited to in-kind replacement, systems upgrades, and new furniture/equipment mean that local districts are responsible for the full cost of substantive rehabilitation, retrofitting, or addition to existing school facilities.  

At present, over $1 billion remains in the modernization program coffers from the last bond issue in 2006. With 10,000 existing schools in operation across the state and a large bubble of mid-to-late 20th century schools nearing the age when they require substantive upgrades, California has a chance to support and incentivize the stewardship of existing infrastructure by retooling its modernization program.  

The public research gathering in Sacramento was the first step in the process of aligning sustainable community growth and public education in California, and the ideas generated and examined there show promise for successfully melding the best of these important values.  

Elaine Stiles is a program officer in the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Western Office. Click here to learn more about the National Trust's efforts to encourage and support community-centered schools.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

[VIDEO] President Obama Talks Preservation at Gathering on Jobs & Economy

Posted on: September 14th, 2010 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Yesterday afternoon, one of our colleagues - Wendy Nicholas, director of the Northeast Office in Boston - had an opportunity to speak to President Barack Obama about historic preservation. At a small gathering about jobs and the economy hosted by her brother and sister-in-law in Fairfax, VA, Wendy engaged President Obama about his thoughts on preservation as an economic driver. In a lengthy response that touched on schools, National Parks, and the HomeStar legislation, the President revealed that he's both informed and engaged on this issue that's so near and dear to us.

(Please note: the video below seems to be loading very slowly into our blog. You can get it a bit more quickly by clicking this link.)

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

The True Cost of Deferring Maintenance in Our Schools

Posted on: September 1st, 2010 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Renee Kuhlman

The Richardson School in Cheyenne, Wyoming (Photo: Mary Humstone)

The Richardson School in Cheyenne, Wyoming (Photo: Mary Humstone)

It’s almost the end of summer and like many school districts across the country, my family is anxious to finish up maintenance projects before school starts again.

As preservationists, we know that regular maintenance is essential to keeping an older structure around for future use. However, according to a recent report from the American Association of School Administrators, the percentage of school districts predicting that they will defer maintenance is rising dramatically. In the 2008-2009 school year, 18 percent of school districts predicted they would defer maintenance; that number rose to 36 percent in 2009-2010. In 2010, more than half of the country’s school districts—55 percent—predicted they would defer maintenance.

In 1995, the Government Accounting Office estimated that $113 billion was needed to bring a third of the country’s K-12 schools into good repair. Today, experts estimate it would take $216 billion dollars (see the 21st Century School Fund’s Repair for Success: An Analysis of the Need and Possibilities for a Federal Investment in PK-12 School Maintenance and Repair for more information).

Industry experts typically recommend that two to four percent of the current replacement value of a building should be spent every year on maintenance (see the National Research Council’s Committing to the Cost of Ownership: Maintenance and Repair of Public Buildings for more information).

... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Lowe's Brings Back Schools in Time for Back-to-School

Posted on: August 24th, 2010 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

As students are preparing to go back to school, Lowe’s and the National Trust are doing the same.  Today, they announced nearly $500,000 in grants has been awarded for the preservation and rehabilitation of ten historic schools across the country.

The rehabilitated historic schools will serve central roles in their communities as educational centers, cultural and community centers, and more.   For example, the Park Addition School in Cheyenne, WY, will serve as a shelter for victims of domestic violence.

Lincoln Creek Day School, Fort Hall, ID

The Lincoln Creek Day School was built as part of a “New Deal” for Native Americans on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in Idaho.

These buildings are important pieces of history in their communities and in America. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his first “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Booker T. Washington High School in Rocky Mount, NC.

The Lincoln Creek Day School was built as part of a “New Deal” for Native Americans on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in ID and will continue its rehabilitation project that began with a grant from the National Trust Preservation Fund made possible by the Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation.

Previous years of funding have focused on Rosenwald Schools, and eight were awarded grants earlier this year.  Today, Lowe’s and the National Trust are taking their support nationwide to make a difference in as many communities as possible.

Visit our website to learn more about all ten historic school grant recipients and the Rosenwald School grant recipients.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

National Trust Mountains/Plains Office to Green 125-Year-Old School

Posted on: August 24th, 2010 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Jim Lindberg 

From Left to Right: Ed Nichols, President of History Colorado; Barb Pahl, National Trust Mountains/Plains Regional Director; Stephanie Meeks, National Trust President; John Hickenlooper, Mayor of Denver; and Steve Turner, Director of the State Historical Fund

Last week, National Trust for Historic Preservation President Stephanie Meeks announced that the National Trust will accept the donation of an 1885 school building in Denver’s historic Capitol Hill neighborhood. The Emerson School, a designated Denver landmark also known as the Frank B. McGlone Center, will become the new headquarters for the National Trust's Mountains/Plains Office and two of our preservation partners in Colorado: Historic Denver, Inc. and Colorado Preservation, Inc.  

Over the coming months, the Mountains/Plains Office will undertake a $2.3 million rehabilitation of the school, with a particular focus on making the building a model for how older structures can meet – or exceed – the highest standards for energy efficiency and environmental design. It will also be a model for environmental stewardship of National Trust-owned properties. 

Stephanie Meeks shared this vision at a press conference held last Thursday, August 19, at the school. Regional Director Barb Pahl joined Stephanie to make the announcement, along with Denver Mayor (and Democratic gubernatorial nominee) John Hickenlooper, State Representative Pat Steadman, Denver Councilwoman Jeanne Robb, History Colorado President Ed Nichols, and State Historical Fund Director Steve Turner. 

From a stage in the second floor lecture hall at the Emerson School, Stephanie thanked the board of directors of Capitol Hill Senior Resources, Inc. for their generous donation of the school to the National Trust. In addition, she announced that a former Capitol Hill Senior Resources board member, Joan Garrett, donated a $1.5 million endowment to the National Trust to provide for the long-term maintenance of the school. 

The press conference concluded with a big boost for the rehabilitation plan, when History Colorado President Ed Nichols presented Stephanie and the National Trust with a certificate announcing a $500,000 grant to the project from the State Historical Fund. This was one of just two grants awarded to Colorado projects through a special State Historical Fund initiative to demonstrate the connections between historic preservation and sustainability. 

Please stay tuned to PresevationNation.org for additional information about the Emerson School and its upcoming green rehabilitation. Also, click here to learn more about the National Trust’s efforts to retain community-centered schools. 

Jim Lindberg is the director of preservation initiatives for the National Trust's Mountains/Plains Office.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.