I attended half of the BTA III meeting yesterday. I came away very irritated but I will say from the outset that the list put out is preliminary. Okay, I said it; it's a preliminary list.
(Now that I said that I'll also say that the BEX lists are also called preliminary and rarely, if ever, changed when presented to the Board.)
Here's a link to the presentation (does not include list of projects).Also the Meng Analysis report that this is all based on is also not yet online but when it is, I'll put it in as an update.
The basics (no, it doesn't all make sense):
Initial Priority project costs: $431,794,000
Initial Seismic Costs: $119,447,000
Backlog Maintenance and Repair
Project Costs (including Closed Schools): $535,210,000
Building Envelope Improvements: 71,845,000
Heating and Ventilation Improvements: 183,848,000
HEalth and Safety Improvements: 37,595,000
This was how it was presented but I didn't get how it all adds together. (I'll add that to my list of questions because I didn't hear it from the district staff person.) None of what the State Auditor's report of from Sept 2008 was addressed or asked about by the Board.
Here's what the State Audit recommended:
"We recommend these districts:
• Develop and implement a formal deferred maintenance plan to divest their
deferred maintenance backlogs. This plan will include the appropriate actions
needed to eliminate the deferred maintenance backlog and an establishment of
a timeline to complete the work with a corresponding budget plan.
• Develop and implement a formal preventive maintenance program. A
preventive maintenance program will help prevent the risk of unforeseen
equipment and system failures; lengthen building and equipment life; and
eliminate the costly accumulation of deferred maintenance."
Staff merely explained how much there is to do and what they proposed for BTA III but I heard nothing about the issue of deferred maintenance and how to get ahead on these issues. How did we get to the place of so much deferred maintenance and where is a "formal preventive maintenance program"? If you are going to ask the public for money, then explain how you will take care of the buildings better in the future.
The preliminary BTA would ask for:
includes roofs, exterior, interior, ADA/Life Safety, mechanical/electrical, playgrounds and seismic
includes data management, school servies, district services, IT infrastructure, classroom services, business operations,data management
includes early learning classrooms for all Title 1 schools, science classrooms, computer labs, spec ed therapy spaces, textural materials adoption, athletic field replacements, etc.
Other Items 5,200,000
includes BEX/BTA planning, Levy monies never collected,BEX IV election costs
TOTAL for BTA III: $412,615,000
So BEX III was $490,000,000. The last BTA was $178M. Look at those sums. How did we get to a time and place where we were asked for less than $200M less than 6 years ago, the district continued to backslid on basic maintenance and now they need over $412M (and that won't even cover all the backlogged projects)?!
The Board asked good questions along the way. I won't go over everything but here are highlights:
- Staff said there this BTA has many projects to the north as the south/southeast area schools have had a lot of work and with capacity issues, the north end schools need more attention. This got a worried comment from both Sherry and Peter which I found confusing. They seemed to be concerned with how the public would take that.
- There is this continuing question (which I had raised at the Assignment meeting on Saturday) about whether the levies still need a percentage of the last election before the levy vote. I was told Saturday that it wasn't there anymore as part of the Simple Majority law. However, Peter Maier said at this meeting that it was. The Board asked staff for clarity on this issue.
- Life safety issues are the number one priority item for BTA. The Board had to get this clarified from staff. This priority is followed by any building system component that has 0-4 years left of useful life.
- Roof work is proposed for interim sites and closed schools and costs will be higher because they proposed to include roof diaphragm (seismic) work at the same time to save costs down the road.
- Big issue that we should all be aware of: it was suggested and agreed upon by the Board (informally) that pre-planning for BEX IV should start with this BTA. They want to somehow figure out a "theme" for BEX IV i.e. what is the focus. That means we should pay careful attention because this involves, as the discussion brought out, capacity issues as well as capital issues.
- Michael DeBell stated that the planning has to be more long-term so that the district doesn't do things like build fields at Denny under BTA and then rip them out a few years later under a BEX. Well, there was someone paying attention.
- We have a pretty thoughtful and straightforward guy in the district's fairly new IT head, Jim Ratchford. He was quite direct in answering questions like Harium's " Do we have a co-location site for our data?" . The answer is no and that was not what Harium wanted to hear because if the district building has problems (fire, earthquake), we need a second site for the data to be accessed. Cheryl threw in that middle school kids in Kent all have district laptops. Mr. Ratchford was aware of this but said it was ambitious for us but he would look into how they paid for that. Mr Ratchford said the district network almost went down on inaugural day (despite people being asked not to watch on-line).
- The Academic/Athletic needs area was handled by Carla who did her best but seemed to not be able to answer all questions. Also, this area was the most vague in costs and where the work would show up. For example, it says 10+ additional science classrooms, more spec ed therapy spaces, more computer labs and more skills centers but not where any of it will go.
- Sherry wistfully pointed out how much money was going to fields than textual materials adoption (the two items were right next to each other and it was a bit glaring that fields get almost double the text money).
- Also there was this oddity of "elementary school lunch rooms" stuck into academic which seems wrong (and a stretch to put it there). Carla didn't know much about this but said it was for Kimble, Green Lake and Sanislo which have open concept buildings (I see the issue but $15M?).
- Also, we have to spend $4M to convert all the analog tvs to digital.
- We will also be putting in 6 "high tech" classrooms at Cleveland to support the STEM program. This one kind of gives me pause because Cleveland is a very new building. I understand trying to drive more people into the building with a better program (which, I can add, they have already tried and failed at) but how much money can you throw at one building with the kind of backlog of maintenance that exists?
According to the handout the rest of the meeting was discussing how to sell this to the public. I have a suggestion: rather than saying how much you did, give us a list, with costs, for every single project. Don't have some huge sheet and say, "See how much we did." Tell us how much it cost and what didn't get done.
So the preliminary list and why I was annoyed - no, Roosevelt and our security cameras didn't make the list. Even though all the other high schools have (or will have them under BEX III). Even though yes, it is a life safety issue. Highlights from the list:
- There are several schools getting a lot of money poured into them that are likely BEX IV candidates. I almost hope they do make a BEX IV list and then whoever makes that list gets scaled back on BTA. Why pour money into buildings that either get renovated or maybe even closed? With BEX III the district has just about covered every single high school, so maybe it's time to move onto middle schools. Eckstein is slated for $19M on this list. I have no issue with this except that it seems if they need that much, they should be on BEX IV with some work from this levy to tide them over.
- Jane Addams? They are wasting no time because the list has them down for over $10M in repairs.
- Other candidates that were mentioned for BEX IV are Arbor Heights down for over $4M, Olympic Hills over $2M, Rodgers over $2M and Roxhill over $1M. (Staff mentioned these as possibles for BEX IV, not me.)
- Hooray! The Meany building is slated for over $17M in upgrades/repairs. Great for Nova/SBOC (and sad for the exiting Meany students). However, I'm not sure it includes science labs which are vital for both schools.
- Closed site John Marshall is down for over $1M and hold your breath, interim site Lincoln is down for over $6M. Okay, Hamilton is leaving in a year, they say no new high school for Magnolia/QA so just what are we doing with this building that we would pour so much money into it? Memorial Stadium - probably the largest property we own? $32,000. Total for interim/closed buildings - over $10M. Really?