- Seattle has a large backlog of deferred maintenance, risking higher repair and/or replacement costs in the future.
- Identify their deferred maintenance backlog, estimate a cost to clear the backlog and track their work.
- Develop and follow a formal deferred maintenance plan, including a timeline to complete the work and a corresponding budget plan.
- Develop and follow a formal preventive maintenance program.
- Excess building capacity: Seattle has 18 percent more classrooms than students to fill them.
- Seattle should study further school closures and, if feasible, institute the closures. Seattle should also develop a new student assignment plan based on fewer buildings.
- Executive staffing: Seattle has 39 percent more executives, managers and supervisors per student than average for the 10 districts.
- Seattle should perform a routine analysis of staffing levels. It should identify or develop staffing level ratios used to monitor actual staffing levels and adjust those levels accordingly.
- Financial management and cost analysis: School districts do not have the financial and performance information they need to determine whether certain programs are cost effective.
- All the districts should start tracking expenditures for activities and indirect costs in more detail so they have the information to assess and compare their performance in these areas to other districts and to the private sector. The Government Accounting Standards Board provides a financial statement format that would facilitate better tracking.
The districts should, on their own or through a contractor, conduct periodic cost analyses of those expenses to evaluate how economic and efficient they are in those areas.
This is an important report because two items are now rising to the top of the district's agenda. Those are the upcoming BTA levy to try to attack some of this maintenance and the assignment plan. Some interesting comments by the district:
"The District acknowledges relying on capital levy funds is insufficient to meet our preventative maintenance needs and we are developing a performance management system which will partially address preventative maintenance."
Well, part of this problem was the change, nearly a decade ago, from a 2% use of the general fund for maintenance (which is recommended by OSPI) to 1%. Naturally, we fell behind. They further state that they are reviewing building usage to see if they might close other schools which, in turn, would save maintenance money. However, this report does note that it is better to sell or lease buildings because of the likely outcomes of decay and vandalism that follow just mothballing buildings.
The district did explain the oddity of the need for closing some buildings while we don't have enough capacity in other buildings. (That demographic survey they had from 1999 surely did not serve them well because here we are nearly at 2009 with this kind of scenario.) They explained that they will be developing a new assignment plan for 2010-2011 and should have a better idea of building needs, maintenance and further possible closures.
As far as the staffing issue raised by the report, the district says it is more complex and larger than the other districts. Granted, but to have nearly 40% more district staff than other districts seems off. The district states that the McKinsey report says there is a lot of procedures and systems that are very labor intensive but then doesn't say anything about correcting that issue. There's a lot of blah, blah in the district's response but nothing about reducing staff levels.
It's an interesting report and it will be interesting to see the follow-thru from the district. Under I-900, there is supposed to be a public hearing about these findings by the district.