Trends in Education

What’s ahead for Educational Facility Planning in 2007?

The next two years will be most interesting in the school facility field. With the change of the U.S. Congress, it looks as if we’ll see more interest in school buildings and how they perform as influencers of learning. Look for the concept of green schools to become more prevalent, as communities see that first cost is not always lowest cost. Good data will be key for decision makers looking for unassailable information with which to make choices for our children. CEFPI is working actively to have the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) update its 1992 study on school buildings. This will give us a good proxy as to the extent of the deferred maintenance that is out there in the K-12 community. Look for this updated study to get underway, and ultimately to help set the stage for working on improving our existing learning spaces. CEFPI has partnered with the U.S. GBC and McGraw Hill Construction to co-sponsor a national study on green schools. This study will be one of the few conducted solely on schools. For the Council, 2007 will show a refined focus on good data to help define the best ways to plan, design, and build high-performing schools.

Thomas Kube is the executive director/CEO of the Council of Educational Facility Planners, Inc.

Issues in 2007 for K-16 Education

Predicting trends in education in any one year is a risky business. This is especially true this year, with the change in the majority in both houses of Congress. This will have a significant impact on the legislative agenda and priorities for education.

One of the two big questions being posed is — will No Child Left Behind be reauthorized in 2007? If not, will the Democrats try to make some legislative adjustments prior to reauthorization? No one is betting on the reauthorization of NCLB in 2007. Conventional wisdom is the reauthorization to be completed in 2009. A big reason is that Congress always is wary of reauthorizing highly visible statutes in presidential election years, and 2008 is one. It is not clear that any legislative changes will be made to NCLB this year, even though numerous suggestions have been made to make implementation easier at the state and local level.

There will be an increased interest in finding new options and strategies to address the transition from high school to postsecondary education. The National Center on Education and the Economy’s recent report“Tough Choices Tough Times” will add to that discussion. This is all part of the ongoing conversation on transforming our public high schools. Also included in the conversations will be the availability of student financial aid to make postsecondary education more accessible and affordable.

Three issues that were raised in 2006 (and the conversation should escalate in 2007) are national standards (not federal) in education, state finance and funding of education, and local education funding. The first — raised and discussed by the Thomas Fordham Foundation given the variance in standards between states. The second — numerous court cases filed challenging states to improve equity and adequacy of their state funding formula. And, third — posed in a Thomas Fordham Foundation paper questioning whether we should think more about local education funds really following the student.

Another issue gaining strength and interest is Pre-K education. Governors in states are paying attention to this issue and are becoming strong advocates. There will also be an increased interest and activity to improve teacher training and induction.

Not being forgotten and already being discussed in the halls of Congress is school construction legislation. Congressman Charles Rangel will be the new chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. He has had a strong interest in finding ways for the Federal government to support school construction and modernization. Stay tuned.

Lastly, there will be a growth in mayoral leadership and involvement in education. Mayors clearly are being held accountable for the quality of the schools in their city. If nothing else, mayors can provide the linkage between social services, human and health services, and education, which have not been very strong in the past. These are very critical for a student to be ready for, and continue to attend, school. This involvement will take a variety of forms, but in the end there is a role for mayors in education if we are to be successful in increasing graduation rates and transforming schools for the 21st century.

Fritz Edelstein is a principal at Public Private Action, which is a consulting firm focusing on strategy, advocacy, policy, outreach, management, and access. He has also worked at the U.S. Department of Education and the United States Conference of Mayors. He can be reached at fritz@publicprivateaction.com

School Security and Emergency Planning Trends

School violence, especially non-fatal shootings, stabbings, and gang activity, will likely continue to rise in 2007. Expect ongoing challenges with athletic event security, especially at high school football and basketball games, and violence on school buses.

As problems grow, public demands for accountability on school safety issues will also rise. Parents and the media are increasingly frustrated and skeptical of the adequacy of safety measures in schools. The cost of doing nothing, or the bare minimum, is increasingly greater than the cost of doing things properly.

Budget cuts for security and prevention programs will continue until at least 2008. Even if federal and state safety dollars are restored, districts will have to incorporate safety into local budgets more in the long haul. School safety can no longer be viewed as a grant-funded luxury.

Educators increasingly recognize that using fill-in-the-blank crisis“templates” does not work. Relationship building and emergency planning with police, fire, medical, and emergency management partners will rightfully grow.

While full-scale drills are informative, they are also too time and labor intensive for many schools. Yet more school leaders recognize the need to get plans off shelves and into practice. Professional evaluations of school emergency plans and tabletop exercises to talk through hypothetical scenarios with public safety partners will continue as popular best practices.

Administrators must use safety dollars wisely. Wasting funds for speakers who tell personal war stories and cry-on-command are for yesteryear. Practical, cutting-edge knowledge — and lots of it — will be expected from safety consultants.

Kenneth S. Trump is president of National School Safety and Security Services, a Cleveland-based national consulting firm specializing in school security and emergency preparedness training, school security assessments, and related school safety and crisis consulting services. He can be reached at www.schoolsecurity.org.

Energy Management – Change is Slow – Results Significant

In the ‘80s and ‘90s of the 20th Century, few school districts across the country adopted an “Energy Management” program to control energy use. Those engaged with an energy management program reaped its benefits through controlling energy use and maintaining energy costs. With the advent of the computer/Internet age, the need to manage energy use and its costs was brought to the forefront, but it was still considered a luxury by many districts. At the same time, the requirements for and design of school buildings was going through major changes. These changes addressed health and instructional needs, and introduced new systems and designs elements, several of which requiring more energy use. The incorporation of more air conditioning and outside air for improved Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) increased energy usage was one of these requirements.

What is Energy Management? The answer is short and sweet. A process of obtaining an understanding of how a specific building is used and operated, resulting in the development and implementation of a plan to reduce the energy consumption. The goal of an energy management plan for a school district is to improve the learning and teaching environment while increasing energy efficiency and reducing energy use.

As the 20th century ended, another factor entered into the energy management consideration of school districts across the country — increasing energy unit costs. With the clock striking 12:01 a.m. on January 1st of 2000, the new century began with many school districts facing large increases in energy unit costs. Some of these increases were due to deregulation of utilities in many states. In these districts, Energy Management was no longer a “luxury” but a “necessity”. Actions were taken; policies passed, regulations approved and implemented, plans developed and put into action. The managing and controlling of energy use began. All segments of the school community were involved. All became part of an “Energy Management” Team. With this change, energy education began to be woven into the fabric of the regular curriculum. This educational beginning was because the sustainability of an energy program into the future resides in the students of today.

Natural, economic, political, and world events in the past two years have had major impacts on the cost of energy to the public and schools — hurricanes, growth of China’s and India’s economies, terrorism, and the Iraq war. Increases in electrical rates for many schools during the past year have ranged from 15 to more than 100 percent, and energy management has become a priority and a “necessity”.

How has Energy Management changed the scene in the school community? Energy education is increasingly becoming part of the school curriculum; energy policies are being passed by school boards; area or state consortiums are formed to negotiate and purchase utilities; energy managers are being hired; some administrators are being rated on building energy performance; on-line utility management programs are being utilized; incentive programs are being established; and, most importantly, school boards and chief operating officers are more aware of the importance of energy management and how it can impact the educational programs both financially and instructionally. An increased use of interval metering provided by utilities is being used, where available, to better manage loads and the demand that can have a significant impact on the energy cost monthly.

With the development of Energy Management plans, districts have become more aware of facility utilization, building occupancy characteristics, impact on energy use of plug and phantom loads, condition of equipment, need for preventative maintenance, and a comprehensive equipment replacement/upgrade program. Districts are establishing energy baselines for each school to service as a yardstick to measure progress. The Energy Star Portfolio Manager — www.energystar.gov — is a tool that can be used for the establishment of an energy baseline. Remember, you cannot determine how much energy you can save until you know how much energy you use. Establishment of procedures to review and approve utility bills is becoming critical for a successful energy management program.

Changes have also been made in design strategies; inclusion of sub-metering of electrical systems and wings of schools; incorporating day-lighting and day-lighting controls; placement and use of occupancy sensors in classrooms and unoccupied areas; installation of energy efficient dry distribution transformers (plug loads) meeting the U. S. Department of Energy’s CSL-3 standards (CSL-3 transformers are UL approved for 100 percent non-linear loads – non CSL-3 transformers are only UL approved for five percent non-linear load); testing of existing dry transformers for loading and efficiencies (today most school distribution transformers are loaded between five and 20 percent of capacity); sizing of HVAC systems to match need and not design conditions; use of CO2 and occupancy sensors to control both HVAC equipment operation and outside air intake; and use of new lighting technologies and controls for gyms and related areas and use of fluorescent lamps and fixtures for exterior lighting. Inclusion of these design strategies into designs today forms a solid foundation for successful energy management in new and renovated buildings in the future.

Energy Management once thought to be a luxury to school districts in the 20th Century is now a necessity (tool) being used by schools to help in the management of the limited resources provided for utilities, and still provide the “students and staff” a healthy and environmentally-friendly area for learning and teaching. The development and implementation of a successful Energy Management program rests with the school boards and administrations. Success will be measured immediately and for decades in the future.

For generic examples of Energy Management policies, regulations and plans, contact Lorenz V. Schoff at lschoff@rev.net.

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