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Farmington schools to receive $6.3 million for construction FARMINGTON -- The School District will move forward with all its plans for an addition to the junior high school now that state money has been approved for the project, said Jon Laffoon, superintendent of schools. The Commission for Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation approved $6.3 million in state money for demolition costs and for an addition to the junior high during its April 29 meeting in Little Rock. In all, the commission approved $77 million for 24 school districts for construction projects on 32 campuses in the 2021-22 fiscal year. The School District is proposing to build additions in two locations top article at the junior high school: a two-story building at the location of the former old high school gym, now demolished, and a second addition at the site of the old "H" Hall. The district also is proposing to add six classrooms and bathrooms to Folsom and Williams elementary schools. Farmington did not receive any state money for those construction projects. The district will pay for the projects using $16.5 million in refunding and construction bonds and the $6.3 million in state money. Joe McClung, junior high principal, said the additions to the school will help meet a need to get all students under one roof. "There are a lot of flaws in the layout of our campus because we are so wide open," McClung said. Students travel to five buildings during a school day, McClung said, adding the goal is to get as many students as possible under one roof and to reduce the number of students who have to cross Double Springs Road. The junior high needs a new special education room, updated science labs and an updated choir room, McClung said. The construction project will give the school the opportunity to sell make these updates, in addition to other improvements, he said. Plans show the two-story building will have about 26,000 square feet and 13 classrooms, including specialty classrooms for science classes and special education. The second addition will provide three classrooms for band, art and choir. The band room will be a larger multi-purpose room with a stage. "We're excited to get the project rolling," McClung said. Lynn Kutter may be reached by email at lkutter@nwadg.com.

https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/may/09/farmington-schools-to-receive-63-million-for/?news-arkansas-nwa

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Jamez Staples Maybe that’s the way it always was and I didn’t pay as much attention as well because I was so close to it.” Staples had gone to the Virgin Islands to complete his education and while there had learned how to install solar panels. He returned just as the Solar Energy Jobs Act had passed and a year later, in 2014, he founded his own company that provided clean-energy services, Renewable Energy Partners. Soon after, he began to envision a clean-energy training center located in his neighborhood that would help local youth train for jobs in the emerging green energy economy.  In 2017 Staples acquired a former state workforce center in the north Minneapolis neighborhood of  Near North where some 50% of residents are Black and 30% live below the poverty line. The center is now the North Minneapolis Clean Energy Training Center.  For decades, residents of north Minneapolis have borne the brunt of the state’s energy policies.  Residents in the area’s ZIP codes have the highest rate of asthma hospitalizations in the state, and studies have linked higher rates of lung and heart illnesses to pollutants from nearby facilities. And while residents contended with an increasing number of vacant storefronts and abandoned homes in the face of soaring unemployment, the state continued to neglect the neighborhood. But now, both the DFL-majority House and Republican-led Senate want to help Staples’ training center and engage with the community in what is one of a handful of provisions that both parties agree on in their respective climate and energy omnibus bills. On Thursday afternoon the House and Senate agreed in the Commerce and Energy Conference Committee to a provision that will fund the energy training center with $2.5 million.  “I think it is pretty meaningful that this was a bipartisan part of both bills and had a Republican author in the Senate and a Democrat in the House,” said Rep. Jamie Long , DFL-Minneapolis. “I think it shows that when it comes to the issues, there are areas where we can come together, and that includes making sure that we have a workforce that is inclusive, that is ready for taking the jobs.” Staples, who has intentionally remained a resident in north Minneapolis, says he believes the training center will fill a necessary gap left open by local schools with a goal of preparing students to be workforce ready for the green economy while completing high school credits and college credits.  “Public schools aren’t necessarily delivering on the career and technical education components which increase graduation rates and so I saw this as an opportunity to to help fix multiple problems at once,” Staples said. “I saw it as an opportunity to make sure that the people from my community had the necessary access.” In fact, Staples had hoped to partner with the city’s public schools to provide training in exchange for course credits, but in 2019, Minneapolis Public Schools pulled out as a potential tenant of the building. Staples is now partnering with alternative schools, which have long been considered a last stop for students before dropping out.  The training center will work with LEAP (Learn & Earn to Achieve Potential), a network run by Project for Pride in Living. It is focused on helping youth who are homeless, in foster care or the juvenile justice system to earn a secondary credential, and will facilitate its network of 12 alternative schools to access the center.  Current conversations about training options at the facility include six to eight green-adjacent jobs such as solar installation, home energy audits and electric vehicle infrastructure mechanics. Antonio Cardona, who is vice president of career readiness at Project for Pride in Living, a partner of the training center, says by being on a bus line the center will give access to those who would otherwise be unable to train for green jobs.  “The real importance of this is that most green jobs training is in outstate Minnesota and this would be a great way to make these sorts of jobs accessible to a new workforce,” Cardona said. “It would be difficult if somebody was interested in the sector to drive an hour and a half to go to a training location.” In addition to being a training center, the building will operate as something of a maker space where students can witness how green solutions operate — the building will have three retention ponds and rain gardens for students to learn how to manage stormwater, a demonstration for heat pumps and a battery storage system.  In 2019, the Legislature directed the Public Utilities Commission to conduct a diversity report within the current and projected energy utility field. The report found that while the energy sector was changing and moving from power plants to renewable and distributed energy sources, diversity was lacking and in the emerging energy field people of color were at risk of being left behind. Ten percent of the trade, transportation and utilities sector in the state consist of people of color, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Long says that provisions in this year’s energy and climate omnibus bill are aimed at promoting diversity in the emerging sector. “We want to try to make sure that residents get access to jobs in the new clean-energy economy,” Long said. “We don’t want to have a transition where we come out the other side with the same equity problems that we have right now. We want to make sure that we are improving health outcomes for all but focused on those who are disproportionately impacted now.” State Sen.

https://www.minnpost.com/environment/2021/05/north-minneapolis-renewable-energy-training-center-to-get-a-boost-from-the-state/