Tag Archives: Texas

State Begins Process To Revoke Charter Of Prime Prep Academy

Source: CBSDFW.COM, July 15, 2014

The Texas Education Agency is taking steps to shutdown the charter school started by former Dallas Cowboy Deion Sanders. TEA officials confirmed to CBS 11 News that they have “started the revocation process” against Uplift Fort Worth — the sponsoring entity of Prime Prep Academy. A letter sent to Uplift Fort Worth board president Chris Lewis and Prime Prep superintendent Ron Price cited “demonstration of unsatisfactory financial performance and failure to comply with Texas Education Code.”
In April, Price, a former Dallas ISD trustee, told the FBI he suspected federal money earmarked for the 300 students of the school was being used improperly. When Price made the allegations sources told CBS 11 News some of the concerns centered around some 400 computers, bought with federal money, that instead of going to students were sold for profit….

Roof collapses at Texas prison operated by Utah company

Source: Associated Press, July 19, 2014

… Lufkin Police and Texas DPS officers work to secure the backside of the Diboll Correctional Facility on Saturday, July 19, 2014 in Diboll, Texas. Authorities say the roof of the privately run East Texas prison has collapsed, temporarily trapping dozens of inmates. Warden David Driskell says 84 inmates were in the area and many were trapped briefly. Diboll police Sgt. Brandan Lovell says 20 inmates were injured, with 10 taken to hospitals. Driskell said the others were treated at the scene for minor injuries and none appeared life-threatening. … The 518-bed minimum-security facility is operated by Centerville, Utah-based Management & Training Corp….
Related:
Roof at correctional center in Diboll collapses /Authorities say no inmates have life-threatning injuries
Source: Samantha Ptashkin, Amanda Perez, click2houston.com, July 19, 2014

A ceiling collapse at an east Texas prison facility injured 19 inmates Saturday, hurting one of them critically. The collapse happened around 11:30 a.m. at the Diboll Correctional Center, a privately run facility that houses minimum security inmates for the state of Texas. According to Management and Training Corporation, which manages the facility, the collapse happened in the day area of a wing that houses a total of 86 inmates. The day area is described as the housing unit’s open space. It is surrounded by individual cells that house inmates….

Arizona State University agreement with Starbucks contributes to higher education privatization

Source: Mukund Rathi, Daily Texan, July 14, 2014

…The Starbucks plan only applies to Starbucks employees pursuing an online degree, which has consistently fallen short of goals around retention, passing, metrics of learning and degree completion.

Starbucks will bear no more than 30 percent of any student’s four-year tuition and fees. There are two parts of the Starbucks plan: a scholarship that reduces the sticker tuition amount and reimbursements for out-of-pocket payments. The scholarship is funded by ASU, not Starbucks, and reduces tuition about $6,500 from the $30,000 for freshman and sophomore years, and $12,600 from $30,000 for junior and senior years. After that, a student may have his or her tuition further reduced by federal grants, military education benefits or need-based aid. Then, juniors and seniors must pay out-of-pocket (or take out loans) for what remains. If they complete 21 credits, which costs about $10,000, within 18 months, Starbucks will issue a reimbursement for that amount. Starbucks will not reimburse any tuition for freshmen and sophomores, meaning that ASU’s scholarship for those first two years is essentially paying students to work while they are in school….

Starbucks is not doing this for charitable reasons. It has two profit-related goals, the first of which is broad public relations. … The second goal is to advertise the Starbucks brand to the college….

….The ASU-Starbucks contract shows that ASU will be fulfilling most of the responsibilities to run the program, but it also requires ASU to assist Starbucks with marketing projects such as joint press releases, promotional “swag,” social media communications, and online advertising for anyone on Starbucks wifi. Starbucks advertising will be present even within educational spaces: ASU must work with Starbucks to develop a mandatory, one-week, non-credit course for students in the Starbucks plan, develop coursework such as “modules on retail management”, construct ASU study spaces inside Starbucks stores, and deliver coursework over Starbucks wifi. They want students who are working at a Starbucks store to also complete their college education there, with a few tasty beverages to get through the boring videos and all-nighters…..

…. Most recently, Powers has begun pushing for a privatization overhaul of student services, staff jobs and faculty recruitment as part of the “Smarter Systems” plan. UT hired the consulting company Accenture to develop this plan, despite its notorious failures with the state of Texas. After a 2005-2006 privatization contract with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Accenture was denounced by the Texas Comptroller for forcing unnecessary “massive state worker layoffs.” Smarter Systems advocates UT implementing “Shared Services,” a controversial administrative centralization plan which UT students, staff and faculty have opposed due to staff layoffs. Smarter Systems advocates restricting faculty recruitment and research to “corporate leaders” and areas with greatest “commercial success” — essentially, applying the profit motive to education. Like the Starbucks plan, Smarter Systems seeks to profit from students: it advocates privatizing student dorms, food and parking. This would mean that Jester, other dorms, and all of the subsidized UT cafeterias and parking lots would be run by private companies, and thus also have higher costs, euphemized in Smarter Systems as “market rates.” Under Powers, UT has already implemented the in-store study spaces part of the Starbucks plan — the Student Activity Center and Texas Union are food-monopolized by private companies (with a Starbucks in each)…..

New engineering hire aims to reduce outsourcing

Source: James Draper, Kilgore News Herald, June 6, 2014

Since 2010, the City of Kilgore has spent on average $466,000 outsourcing engineering work to local firms – a newly-created and recently filled Kilgore City Engineer position at City Hall is targeted at reducing the necessary labor costs. Engineering expenditures fluctuate from year to year, Kilgore Public Works Director Seth Sorensen explained Thursday, and bringing more of the work in-house (in addition to his own engineering tasks) should lead to a significant cost reduction with new employee Clay Evers. “To have an engineer with the same qualifications as Clay is right around $90 per hour,” Sorensen said: the same work from a $75,000 per year (plus benefits) job will reduce the expense to about $53 per hour. … At the same time, numerous projects have necessitated outsourcing to Schaumburg & Polk, KSA Engineers, Friese & Nichols and other firms. “We went back and did an analysis of the funding we have been paying over the last several years on engineering for water / wastewater projects and realized that even with hiring a full-time position we would still be saving money by bringing the engineer in-house, and we would be able to increase the amount of engineering for those dollars.”…

Partnership Financing: Improving Transportation Infrastructure Through Public Private Partnerships

Source: Mary Jane Breinholt, Eno Center for Transportation, 2014

Eno created its Public Private Partnership (P3) working group in 2012 to provide a better understanding of limited availability and the use of P3s as a potential project delivery method. Led by former U.S. Secretaries of Transportation Mary Peters and Norman Mineta, Eno’s P3 working group brought together industry leaders and experts to identify barriers to the increased use of P3s and to outline approaches for overcoming these barriers.

In Partnership Financing: Improving Transportation Infrastructure Through Public Private Partnerships, the group studied both successful and unsuccessful P3 projects nationwide in an effort to identify lessons learned for policymakers, legislators, and officials interested in using P3s to deliver transportation infrastructure projects. The working group identified patterns in the challenges that localities have faced when using P3s and developed recommendations for federal and local policy to enable greater use of P3s as an infrastructure delivery mechanism in the future.

…Appendix 1: Existing and Currently Proposed DBFOM Projects….

…Appendix 3: Summary of Case Studies
The following is a summary of the six case studies that were used to develop the policy recommendations for this research paper. The case studies are not meant to be exhaustive analyses of projects nor do the six used provide complete examples of lessons for the entire country. However the cases underscore specific lessons learned and offer valuable insights as to how each project was able to overcome specific barriers, or how projects failed to surmount obstacles. The main body of the text of this report highlights the lessons learned, while this appendix provides more detail to the interested reader. The following cases are included:
Case 1: The Port of Miami Tunnel and the I-595 Express Lanes
Case 2: Denver Eagle Transit P3
Case 3: The Commonwealth of Virginia (multiple projects)
Case 4: California – SR-91 and SR125
Case 5: Trans-Texas Corridor
Case 6: The Ohio River Bridge….

Related:
Report: Keys to Successful Public-Private Partnerships
Source: Daniel C. Vock, Governing, May 28, 2014

Flexibility, public engagement and predictability help attract outside money for infrastructure, experts say….

Longview ISD votes to outsource custodial services

Source: Bridget Ortigo, news-journal.com, May 13, 2014

Longview ISD trustees voted Monday to outsource custodial services to Dallas-based GCA Services Group beginning June 1, a move that will impact 94 employees. The vote tally was 4-2 with one abstention. The $2.7 million contract will save the district an estimated $200,000 for the first contract year, Assistant Superintendent Lynn Marshall said after the meeting, referring to data from GCA Services. All 94 custodial employees currently with LISD will have the opportunity to remain with the district or apply with GCA, he said. The 29 who have 15 years or more of service will retain their retirement status with the Dallas company….The contract has a clause stating a maximum and minimum increase rate for the following year’s contract, with the maximum increase rate topping out at 3 percent….

Charters, Public Schools and a Chasm Between

Source: Javier C. Hernández, New York Times, May 11, 2014

…But two decades since the schools began to appear, educators from both systems concede that very little of what has worked for charter schools has found its way into regular classrooms. Testy political battles over space and money, including one that became glaringly public in New York State this spring, have inhibited attempts at collaboration. The sharing of school buildings, which in theory should foster communication, has more frequently led to conflict.

And some charter schools have veered so sharply from the traditional model — with longer school years, armies of nonunion workers and flashy enrichment opportunities like trips to the Galápagos Islands — that their ideas are viewed as unworkable in regular schools.

In recent years, educational leaders, concerned about hostilities between the two types of schools, have worked to encourage warmer relations. In Tulsa, Okla., charter schools and district schools are working together to improve teaching quality. And in Spring Branch, Tex., charter school leaders are helping train district teachers and principals…..

…Education experts said it might prove difficult to encourage the kind of sharing of ideas that charter schools were originally supposed to foster, given competitive dynamics. Charter schools serve about 5 percent of public-school students nationwide, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, up from about 1 percent in 2003. In some cities, like Detroit, New Orleans and Washington, the percentages are much higher. (In New York, it is 6 percent.)

“It’s like putting a Burger King kitty-corner to a McDonald’s and expecting — in the same location and competing for the same families — warm and fuzzy cooperation,” said Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley.

Charter schools are known for aggressive recruiting campaigns, and at schools with dwindling enrollment, every student counts: In New York, each brings more than $10,000 in education financing….

Louisiana corrections firm says it will operate treatment center in Hardin jail

Source: Mike Ferguson, Billings Gazette, April 10, 2014

A Louisiana corrections company plans a job fair April 16 at the Two Rivers Detention Facility in Hardin in an effort to find up to 115 employees to operate a therapeutic treatment center for Bureau of Indian Affairs inmates, beginning as early as May 15…. Treatment would be provided at the detention facility itself, built in 2007 through the issuance of $27 million in revenue bonds….Emerald Companies, which includes Emerald Correctional Management and Emerald Healthcare Systems, is involved in the design, construction, management and health care services in a variety of correctional settings in four states — Louisiana, where the company is based, as well as Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. According to the company’s website, the company contracts with four federal agencies as well as state corrections departments and a number of city and county jurisdictions. A Montana Department of Corrections spokesperson said the company hasn’t contracted to provide services here….

…Jeff McDowell, executive director of Two Rivers Authority, the tax-funded economic development agency for the city of Hardin, said he had no comment Thursday about the company’s plans, but said he’ll issue a statement later. Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder said he won’t likely consider placing any county inmates at the Two Rivers Detention Facility “until they are up and running.”…

Jenkins proposes raising minimum wage for Dallas County contract workers

Source: Matthew Watkins, Dallas Morning news, The Scoop blog, March 25, 2014

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins on Tuesday proposed raising the minimum wage for private employees who do contract work for the county. Full-time workers who handle janitorial duties, security and other labor would be paid at least $10.25 per hour under the policy. Currently, many of those employees are paid at or slightly above the federal minimum, which is $7.25 per hour….The exact details of the proposal still need to be ironed out, officials said. But Jenkins said he envisions including a minimum among the specifications it requires when it seeks bids for contract work. The Commissioners Court considered one such bid during Tuesday’s meeting, approving janitorial services for the county’s Health and Human Services building. Jenkins abstained from the vote because the contractor planned to hire a janitor who would work 40 hours per week at $8 per hour. That adds up to over $16,000 per year, with no medical benefits. The others members of the court unanimously approved the contract….

Toll Opponents Say Aggressive Collection by TxDOT is Proof of ‘Failed Policy’

Source: Jim Forsyth, WOAI, March 25, 2014

In a very controversial move, the Texas Department of Transportation is announced it will begin seizing the cars of motorists who have failed to pay tolls on the state’s growing network of toll roads, essentially turning TxDOT into a taxpayer funded collection agency for the private companies which operate the toll roads, 1200 WOAI news reports. David Glessner of TxDOT tells 1200 WOAI news that there are $27 million in unpaid tolls on the books, and if the people who racked up those tolls don’t pay, the taxpayers will be on the hook. …. Under the Public Private Partnership agreements under which many toll roads and toll lanes are build, private companies, like San Antonio based Zachry American Infrastructure, build the roads under a fifty year agreement with the state which allows the private companies to collect the tolls. But if people don’t pay the tolls, it is the taxpayers who have to make up the difference. And Hall says the PPP policy was clearly not thought through, because there is no way to collect tolls from out of state and out of country motorists who aren’t subject to Texas penalties, like tickets and refusal to renew their car registration. ….