01.31.2014 Facilities Planning, K-12, Uncategorized

Academy Development- Engaging Students in a Competitive Environment

Hawthorne, CA — “The bell rang and no one left their spaces… the students continued to work on their projects until the teacher told them they had to stop working and clean up.  Tool kits, circuit boards, protective goggles were spread out on the desks, and each desk looked like a workstation in a high tech Silicone Valley firm….”

This was the scene on a recent visit to the Bud Carson Middle School STEM Academy in Hawthorne, CA. Students

BCMS STEM Academy Leads the Way

Students Engaged In a Science Project at Bud Carson Middle School STEM Academy

were fully engaged building pinball machines using the integrated course units incorporating geometry, math and physics. When asked about his project, the student said, “I’m having fun, it doesn’t feel like work.”  Visiting school district officials from throughout Southern California commented on how engaged the students were on their projects and how the middle school classroom mimicked the skills students need in the work place.

CFW believes that the academic program must drive the facilities program. To this end, CFW has worked with a number of districts to help them create Academy Programs. Academies are not a curriculum, a program, or a vendor.

Academies are a cultural shift in what a total school is about. They promote a philosophy of education and learning.  They also serve as a natural vehicle for implementation of the Common Core State Standards and Project Based Learning. The curriculum developed is rich, rigorous and engaging. Thus, improving student achievement. Often, academy programs are overlooked by a district because they do not have the  facilities and/or curriculum and instruction capabilities or the time to  develop such programs.

It is important for local  schools to improve the academic achievement of their students. It is essential for their very survival. With the emergence of charter schools and other educational options available to parents,  public schools must offer programs that are appealing to the parents of the students that they serve.  This is a huge task especially when they also need to improve educational performance.

One of the ways to both increase academic achievement and appeal to parents is the creation of academies in the educational program. For example, CFW is working with the Oxnard School District to reconfigure the entire district into different grade levels and different academies: six K-8 schools with Dual Language Immersion programs, 3 Middle Schools with Academies: Science and Technology Academy, Environmental Services and Design Academy, and Visual and Performing Arts Academy, and eleven K-5 schools with an Academic Strand Focus.

These academy programs are integrated into the Facilities Implementation Plan along with proposed funding sources. Our team will work with your District to develop an academy educational program to be integrated within the proposed facilities program with the goal of strengthen academic achievement.

CFW will take your district from an envisioning process all the way to an  implementation plan.

We will provide a detailed  timeline/schedule of events and project  deliverable’s reflecting the four phases of the development and implementation process. The unique feature of our planning process is the integration of the Academy Program with the Facilities and Technology Program. We work with your District’s identified Leadership Team to ensure successful completion of each of these processes.

The program that is developed will be one that the District and its community envision, desire and own. As a secondary outcome of this process, your Leadership Team will receive Leadership Training that will bring long lasting value.

 

01.31.2014 Facilities Planning, K-12, Uncategorized

2013 – A YEAR OF PLANNING FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS

Oxnard, CA — For many of our clients, 2013 was a pioneering year in the planning and envisioning of school facilities. For the Oxnard School District in Ventura County we developed an innovative 22nd century approach to classroom design.

That’s right – learning environments planned, designed, and built not with a 1990’s view of the 21st century, but with a view toward the needs and educational demands of students that will eventually live as citizens in a 22nd century world. Instead of painted wall surfaces, our planners deployed solutions that allow every wall, floor to ceiling, to be a markeable, writable, and interactive instructional space.

Harrington 2

Plans for Harrington Elementary  School, Oxnard, CA

We researched and replaced 20 year old solutions like Smart Boards with new technologies that effectively pair with digital textbooks and will more efficiently equip our teachers and students for the next 20 years.

At the La Habra City School District in Orange County we helped plan and transform local middle schools into academies of the arts and sciences.  Moreover, we reimagined and rediscovered the role of classroom furnishings, finding solutions that not only are more effective for maintenance and operations, but provide students with ergonomic advantages proven by recent research to have a substantive impact on attention span, concentration, and creativity – all welcome improvements for implementing the Common Core.

And now in Los Angeles County our planning division has been tasked by the Inglewood Unified School District to conduct a multi-layered facilities analysis that will examine data on school site capacity, bond project funding, State aid, and local mitigation agreements to construct a facilities priority matrix.  This innovative visual tool will allow local policymakers to consider various strategic approaches for improving school facilities and planning capital expenditures.  Plus, as an easy-to-understand graphic aid, the final “heat-map” will boil down the most complex financial and demographic interrelationships into the most fundamental and tangible solutions.

Still, many of our clients have not yet had an opportunity to utilize CFW’s team of forward-thinking school planning professionals.  Your district may be facing its own set of unique planning challenges, and our Planning Division is here to help craft solutions specifically designed to address them.  Contact Jeremy Cogan at 510-596-8180 to tell us about your facilities and technology planning challenges and we will be happy to share appropriate planning services to meet your needs.

01.28.2014 Facilities Planning, Program Management

CALISTOGA JOINT UNIFIED CELEBRATES MAJOR MILESTONE

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School Officials Gather at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Calistoga, Calif. – The Calistoga Joint Unified School District held a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Calistoga Junior/Senior High School recently  to celebrate the completion of a major “Measure A” project which includes  the construction of a new gym and the Student Union. In addition, the  modernization of the library at Calistoga Elementary  and renewable energy and technology projects throughout the District have been completed. This project signals the final use of the Measure A Funding for the school district.

CFW Inc, was the financial advisor, planner, and full time manager for the implementation of this program. Measure “A”, the District’s $42 million Bond was approved by 65.2% of voters on November 2, 2010.  Measure A projects include   renovation of schools, improve school libraries, upgrade classrooms, modernize computer networks, install solar energy systems, and replace aging roofs, heating, electrical, plumbing, cooling and ventilation systems.

This project was constructed by Blach Construction of Santa Clara, CA under a Lease Leaseback project delivery method. Lionakis Architects of Sacramento designed the facility while CFW managed the overall program. The project was delivered under budget and within the original contract schedule as promised.

01.28.2014 Financial Advisory, Uncategorized

BOND MARKET ROUND UP

Interest Rates – What to expect?

Good news so far on the interest rate front.  Interest rates have been declining since year-end and appear to be trending downward in the near term.  The cost of issuing bonds is expected to remain flat and therefore a good time to issue bonds in the market.  Simple supply and demand is partially responsible for this trend. Over the next month, there are approximately $30 billion of municipal bonds that are maturing and only $12-15 billion of new bonds being issued in the market.  Demand is simply outweighing supply resulting in lower  interest rates.  Second, there are certain income tax increases that will become effective in 2014.  This creates further demand for tax-exempt bonds as those in the higher tax brackets seek tax-free income they receive from holding municipal bonds.

While the economy in California appears to continue its upswing, the host of national economic indicators, including unemployment, are still not at desired levels.  We can expect our folks in Washington to hold tight to current fiscal policies that will keep interest rates as low as possible.

Historical-Municipal-Bond-Yields

Good news from Sacramento– what does it mean for your district?

Governor Brown’s budget proposal will have a positive credit effect for schools and community colleges in California.  Credit Rating agencies, like Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s will look very favorably on the increase in per-pupil funding by 8.5% from last year as well as the 11% increase for California Community colleges.

The state also expects to pay down past state payment deferrals.   This combination will equate to a credit positive for all  districts when getting a new credit rating in 2014.  And a better credit rating means lower interest rates for your taxpayers!

Private Placements – Still around in 2014?

By all means, YES!  In speaking with some of the major banks around the state, it appears that they are still open for business when it comes to providing a direct purchase of municipal securities which include school bonds.

Their continued profitability helps support their demand for tax- free income and their interest in purchasing school bonds.  This can be a very good fit for smaller issuers as the “closing costs” of a private placement can be much less than a traditional market transaction.  For further information, or if you have any questions, please call John Greenlee at 510-596-8170 or jgreenlee@cfwinc.com.

01.28.2014 Campaigns, K-12, Uncategorized

IS 2014 A GOOD TIME TO GO OUT FOR A BOND?

Over the last 12 years, Caldwell Flores Winters, Inc. has maintained an impressive 90% success rate in passing hard to win bond measures. Last November, CFW went 3 for 3 in passing a General Obligation Bond measure, a parcel tax measure at two-thirds approval and assisted in the reorganization effort of the newly organized Wiseburn USD.

Given our experience and expertise in running elections in rural, urban and suburban communities, we know that every community is unique. We have a proven track record in passing bonds, both at the two-thirds approval level and 55% because CFW takes a holistic approach in meeting your district’s needs.  It’s important to remember that not all voters have daily contact with local schools.  Parents usually make up less than 20% of the electorate and many voters simple do not know why good schools will impact them if they do not have kids in school. That is why it is important to strategically plan and listen to the needs of all constituents throughout the District and then present a program that voters will accept at the ballot box.

Starting with the end in mind is important in your  planning processes. Long gone are the days when districts could just call for a bond election and win without facing any public scrutiny.  Given recent headlines in the news and recent bond reform measures, it is critical that district’s plan accordingly before the Board takes action to call an election.

Common sense and research will tell you that new facilities do help improve student achievement.  However, now more than ever, we need to be intentional about how the district’s educational planning and Common Core standards interact with facilities.  Voters want to know how investments in educational outcomes are linked to facility improvements.  This is why, we recommend an integrated planning approach to get you from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow.  Is now the best time for your District to pursue a bond?  Let us help guide your discussion with your community stakeholders.  For more information, contact Abel Guillen at aguillen@cfwin.com.

01.28.2014 Campaigns, Facilities Planning

November 2014 Statewide Facilities Bond Measure Update

CFW has been in close contact with staff at the State Allocation Board (SAB) and the Office of Public School Construction (OPSC) to track the development of the Statewide Bond Legislation.  Draft language was reviewed at the January 22 SAB meeting, and is targeting final approval of the bond legislation by late March 2014. The January 22 SAB meeting included a public hearing for input on the draft, and will be followed by a 30-60 day public comment period to obtain additional feedback on the proposed Bond program.

The program appears to offer several benefits to School Districts with need. The following is a brief overview of the more critical recommendations:

1. All school districts should be required to re-establish their new construction eligibility baseline in order to be eligible to receive funding under the new bond. Districts would be required to provide current information to OPSC confirming classroom inventory. It is likely that districts will be unable to claim additional dwelling units based on tract maps which have yet to obtain development approvals.

 2. New construction grants may not be used for the purpose of constructing portable classrooms. Districts will now be prohibited from utilizing New Construction Grants to construct portable school facilities. Previously, districts were able to use state funds to construct portable facilities with only a 20-yr expected life, which created a drain on Modernization and Deferred Maintenance funds at the State.

3. All school districts should be required to re-establish their modernization eligibility baseline at each site in order to be eligible to receive funding under a new bond. Under the previous program, the modernization eligibility was not required to be updated periodically, and in many cases eligibility numbers on file were more than ten years old and likely to be inaccurate. Districts in the state will now be required to update all their classroom eligibility prior to being eligible for modernization funds.

4. The use of modernization grants should be limited to permanent facilities projects. This recommendation requires that all modernization monies be used to modernize permanent facilities, or to build new facilities. Funds could still be used to build new structures, or to modernize existing permanent facilities.

5. Consider changing the criteria for the financial hardship program by increasing the bond indebtedness level from 60% to 100%. The District’s eligibility for the Hardship Program in the past was linked to their having issued debt that met or exceeded 60% of the “Assessed Valuation” of all real property within the District boundaries. Districts would now be required to have issued debt in excess of 100% of the assessed valuation in order to qualify.

As these legislative efforts continue to develop, CFW will provide regular reports to our clients regarding the status of the initiative, and how the new program will impact your local district.

For more information, contact Greg Norman at gnorman@cfwinc.com.

 

 

05.01.2013 Facilities Planning, Financial Advisory, K-12, Program Management

Oxnard District Plans to Open Academies at 3 Schools

By Jeremy Foster Special to The Star

PUBLISHED BY VENTURA COUNTY STAR ON APRIL 24, 2013

Middle school students in the Oxnard School District will have more opportunities next year to pursue specializations.

The district plans to open three academies at three intermediate schools, which will be reconfigured as grade 6-8 campuses. The redesigned schools are meant to make students more competitive in the global economy, district Superintendent Jeff Chancer said. read more

01.30.2013 Community Colleges, Financial Advisory, K-12

CABs: State Leaders Aim to Restrict Local School Financing Options

When the economy tanked, the need to replace leaking roofs or update electrical systems for computers and technology didn’t go away. Schools throughout California have continued to be under tremendous pressure to provide quality and safe schools for our children.

Like most things, there is no free lunch when it comes to financing the construction and renovation of our public schools. Whatever path a community takes, you either pay now or pay later for these buildings – but like your household, it’s good to have both options. read more

06.05.2012 Financial Advisory

MSRB and CDIAC to Host Outreach Seminar for Municipal Issuers

Alexandria, VA – The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) and the California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission (CDIAC) will co-host an education and outreach seminar for municipal market professionals on July 24, 2012 in San Francisco, California. This seminar will provide market participants and, in particular, public agencies, with information about how regulation of the municipal securities market is changing and the MSRB’s long-range plan for greater market disclosure and transparency. The keynote luncheon speakers will be MSRB Chair Alan D. Polsky and California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer. read more

05.26.2011 Campaigns, Financial Advisory, K-12

AB1045 Seeks to Restrict School District Access to Local Funds

The ability for local school districts to raise funds through local measures is in jeopardy.  Last week, the Assembly approved AB 1045 (Norby), and the bill now moves to the Senate Finance and Governance Committee. read more