Shaping the Future: Trends in Education

Building Green

Building green is part of a comprehensive effort that includes sustainability, indoor air quality, energy conservation, and all other matters that pertain to the environment and the overall health of students and faculty.

This is reflected at local state, national, and international levels. Recently CEFPI was asked to participate in two major national collaborations concerned with green building in education. We were invited as a lead organization by the Clinton Foundation and the USGBC to participate in the Clinton Climate Initiative’s Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit program to help reduce energy consumption in educational facilities nationwide. Less than a month later, we were invited to Capitol Hill to participate in the launch of a Green Schools Caucus, a bipartisan effort begun in the House to educate Congress on the benefits of green schools.

CEFPI also joined with the U.S. Green Building Council to co-sponsor a 2007 McGraw-Hill Green Building SmartMarket Report in which MHC economists forecast that education would be the fastest growing sector for green building.

Another indicator is that our annual High Performance Schools Symposium, held each January, has grown in popularity every year and routinely attracts attendees from around the world.

Merle Kirkley is president of the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) Board of Directors. He can be reached at merle.kirkley@saxtonbradley.com.


Peeking Inside the Beltway 2008

No one in their right mind would ever want to call themselves an inside the Beltway soothsayer. Crystal balls and Ouija boards, while often useful for looking into the future, have proven ineffective in predicting what a Congress or President will do and even less so in an election year. 2008 will be one of those years. Given the current swings in public sentiment, political pressures, election year posturing, strange bedfellow partnerships, the war against terror, and party alignments makes it doubly challenging to guess what path Congress or the White House will take in 2008. No one has ever said I was totally of sound mind, so I am taking on the challenge to trying to describe some of the things one can expect in education inside the Beltway in 2008. However, one must admit when attempting this for 2008, there are more unknowns than answers to the questions.

Given the end of the year appropriation battles for FY 2008 and the minimal increases in domestic spending won by the Democrats while holding a majority of Congress, the 2009 fiscal year budget proposal and appropriations process should be as protracted. There will be a lame duck President and Congress, with the latter campaigning to return to office. Unless there is early agreement on appropriations, it is most likely that there will be a continuing resolution or another omnibus bill, including at least 12 of the 13 appropriation bills, and possibly all of them. Also, Congress will most likely come back after the election for a few weeks to clean up things.

A key piece of education legislation, No Child Left Behind, has yet to be reauthorized. At the end of 2007, the conventional wisdom was that nothing would happen during an election year. However, just at the end of the session, it has become clear that a significant effort is going to be made by both the leadership of authorizing House and Senate Committees to get a new bill written and passed in 2008. The word is that the fundamental principles of NCLB will remain, but the leadership is looking for new approaches and strategies to enable students to reach the skill standards and achieve proficiency; train and retain a quality teaching workforce; provide new educational opportunities for those at greatest need; and build an accountability system which provides quality information to improve teaching and learning, as well as means to address poorly achieving classrooms, schools, and systems.

Given we are not in a balanced budget situation, it is doubtful that there will be significant increase in education spending. If the current experience with the FY 07 appropriation is any indication, there will be few, if any, increases. The President will ask again for additional funds for Reading First, and the math and science initiative, as well as token increases to Title I and special education and, possibly, English language learners.

Members of Congress will as always seek increases for Title I and special education to begin to meet the glide path towards full funding, which was agreed upon several years ago, but has yet to be met. It is doubtful under the current budget condition that the Democrats will be able to restore funding that has been cut and move back on the glide path. There will also be efforts to increase funding in other K-12 areas such as 21st Century Community Learning Centers, arts and music, literacy, English language learners, and other areas that have lacked support, such as middle and high school transformation, foreign languages, and the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) initiatives.

Higher education has seen increases for Pell grants, but there will be a continuing effort to continue that level of funding, as well as improve funding for access and preparation for college programs such as TRIO and GEAR UP. There will be a push for more support for higher education programs such as foreign languages and institutional support. But the focus will be on elementary and secondary education.

Increases in funding for SCHIP (funding of child health insurance), vetoed twice by the President, should get a third run early in 2008. Senators Oren Hatch (UT) and Charles Grassley (IA) were strong advocates for the legislation and worked tirelessly to get their fellow Republicans in both the House and the Senate to vote for the bill to override the President’s veto. Now that the President is a lame duck, some additional Republicans should join the ranks and have enough votes to override a veto.

All in all, it will not be a very eventful year for domestic programs, much less education. Politics, with a capital “P”, will be dominant, and that will have an impact on legislation and appropriations.

Fritz Edelstein is a principal in the PublicPrivate Action consulting group. To gain daily insight into what is going on inside the Beltway you can subscribe to Fritzwire. Send your contact information to fritz@publicprivateaction.com.


New Regulation from the IRS a New Challenge

There are always key issues that school business officials will deal with on an annual basis, such as the allocation of resources and budget management. In times of declining resources, continued unfunded mandates, and the focus on student achievement, we continually find that there is an ever-increasing competition for the same resources. This is not a new challenge. This next year, however, school business officials across the nation can expect to be spending an inordinate amount of time dealing with new regulations from the IRS.

There are a number of changes in the IRS regulations dealing with 403(b) and 457 revenue procedures, tax-free transfers and exchanges, as well as other new compliance regulations. These new regulations will require that the school business official be well versed in the new regulations, as well as maintain an intense focus in order to assure compliance. In fact, even if a school business official worked on these regs 100 percent of their workday, it still would be a very difficult task. As the SBO’s across the nation work for compliance of the new regulations, they will also be overcoming the continued challenges in the areas of school nutrition services, maintenance and operations, student transportation, financial services, procurement, as well as technology and other support operation areas.

ASBO International will be providing resources in the area of the IRS regulations to help SBO’s effectively manage all areas of support services. Those resources will include;

  • [if !supportLists]a common plan document,
  • a service provider agreement,
  • an RFP for 403 (b) administration procurement and
  • a salary reduction and hold harmless agreement.

 

School Business Officials can expect strict enforcement of these regulations and thus, will need to be spending a good deal of their time and energy in this area. Other resources that will help SBO’s can be found on the ASBO Website at www.asbointl.org/index.asp?bid=9709.

John Musso RSBA, is executive director of the Association of School Business Officers International. He can be reached at 866/ 682-2729, ext. 7063 or by e-mail at jmusso@asbointl.org.


The Crystal Ball Points to Energy Management Advancements

As 2007 ends and 2008 begins with the price of crude oil tip-toeing around $100 a barrel, the importance of energy management in the operations of our nations’ schools is being seen as a necessity, rather than a luxury, by more school administrations and boards. There is still a long way to go.

During the past year, visits and discussions with many school districts, both large and small, rural, urban, and suburban across the nation, the following foundation elements in energy management are have been put into place: 1) inclusion of energy education materials classroom learning experience; 2) either hiring or appointing an individual to be responsible for management of energy resources; 3) increase use of utility management programs or services; 4) increase emphasis on energy awareness training of all school personnel; 5) adoption or adherence to high performance/green/sustainable design standards for new, renovation, or replacement construction projects; and 6) increase understanding, value, and use of existing energy management systems.

With key foundation elements being put into place, what new elements appear during the new year — 2008 — to increase effectiveness of energy management: 1) adoption of an energy policy and energy management plans aimed at reducing energy use initially by 50 percent; 2) adoption of new technologies — energy efficient transformers (U.S. Department of Energy’s C-3 Standard), LED or fluorescent exterior lighting, oil-free centrifugal chillers; 3) adoption of new strategies — dark schools, control of classroom outlets, hallway lighting, lighting levels, plug and phantom load controls, sub-metering of key electrical circuits; and, 4) laying the ground work for net-zero energy school operations by 2025.

As 2008 begins, out of necessity, energy management is rising to the top as a key element in schools to control budgets, reduce environmental impact, and provide their students with the tools needed to advance energy efficiency and sustainability into the 21st Century.

Larry Schoff is president of Energy Efficient Solutions (E2S). His 42-year career in facilities management includes 21 years working specifically with educational facilities. He currently provides consulting services to help schools nationwide improve energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption, in addition to contributing articles on Energy Efficient Design to numerous national publications.


School Security and Emergency Preparedness Trends

Smart administrators will stress one school safety theme in 2008 — Being Proactive.

During the coming year, expect escalated violence from gangs and opposing neighborhood cliques in communities with a presence of such rivalries. Non-fatal shootings and firearms incidents will grow. Additional security needs for school athletic events, on school buses, and to and from school will also challenge educators and safety officials.

School leaders need to better prepare for assessing and managing threats. Bomb threats, death threats, and rumors of school shootings will continue to plague administrators. Poorly prepared school officials will make questionable, knee-jerk decisions, such as repeated evacuations or closing schools, when other options may be available.

Parents will demand greater attention to school security. Expect calls for “by-name accountability” of administrators and boards who fail to have adequate risk-reduction and preparedness measures in place.

After high-profile incidents and crisis situations, parents will demand assessment of security procedures and measures, in addition to the traditional calling-in of more counselors.

Schools must partner more with public safety and other community partners to prepare for emergencies. Greater joint planning, cross training, and tabletop exercises are needed to test written plans.

Product-affiliated security vendors will be more aggressive, and sometimes more manipulative and misleading while targeting school budgets. Be leery of “free security assessments” and other offers that seem too good to be true.

Strive to be better-educated consumers of security and emergency products and services. Avoid “doing it on the cheap,” as pennywise but pound-foolish school security decisions will increase financial and school image liabilities.

Exaggerated demonstrations, tear-jerking presentations, templated checklists, and canned reports are old news. Educators want experienced, analytical experts and school safety services tailored to meet each district’s unique needs.

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 and consulting, school security assessments, and related school safety consulting services. He may be reached at www.schoolsecurity.org.

 

 

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