- As I mentioned before at the Work Session it was announced that boundary maps would be produced for the next Board Work Session on the SAP on Tuesday, October 6th from 4-8 p.m. However, Kathy Johnson of Facilities said at the meeting today they would be out on October 5th. I will get clarification on this date on Monday.
- There were 4 different amounts given that might be asked of voters for BTA III; $210M, $240M, $270M and $300M. (BTA I was $150M approved in 1998 and BTA II was $178M approved in 2004. Please note those dates and those sums - it will be key later on.)
- At the Work Session, there were several NE moms who I know to be active on the issue of capacity in the NE. They were quite interested in looking at the draft of the Summary of Projects handed out at the Work Session.
"Capacity Planning and Management - Reopen Closed Buildings." Under "Site" it says "4-6 Schools as needed". Under Schools it says "TBD" and under cost it says "$34,600,000M".
No Board member , according to my notes, really said anything about this. There was a slight discussion over fixing up reopened buildings with FFE. Peter Maier asked what that was and Kathy said it stands for "Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment". She then said, "We will do what needs to be required to open buildings." but then also noted that work may be needed down the road and did not reference the $34.6M in the chart.
Then, at today's BEX meeting Kathy said that for the first time in 40 years, the district was really changed our SAP and it was going to change the landscape of capacity management.
She that this BTA will be reopening previously closed schools. She called the figure needed to fix them up at $40M and said that many of these buildings have been on deferred maintenance and so are in poor condition. She said one is from 1989 (and I think it's either Webster or Sand Point). She said, "We have never reopened a closed building before."
I think I have previously mentioned that the State Auditor had been slowed down on the BEX audit because they ran out of consultant money and had to continue in-house. I was disappointed because I thought it would be one way to get some real accountability from the district before going into the levy in February.
Well, who needs the audit when the district is going to spend millions reopening closed buildings? I mean, how will they explain:
- missing the demographics that necessitate reopening 4-6 buildings?
- not keeping up with basic maintenance that now puts them way behind in buildings currently occupied and yet they will have to spend a lot of money on reopening closed buildings that haven't seen maintenance (except maybe roofs) in years?
- they have four figures they are considering for the levy: $210M, $240M, $270M and $300M. Under the $210M, they will not even be able to reverse the trend of backlogged maintenance but merely limit its growth (this was said at the Work Session).
- the original BTA 1 was $150M in 1998 and $178M in 2004. They have said the backlog occurred because of levy losses in the '80s and '90s (although I still can't get David Tucker, the district spokesperson, to give me the dates and amounts). Why, then, didn't they ask for more in 1998 or 2004 if the backlog had already begun growing?
- Why didn't the district increase, rather than decrease, the percentage of the General Fund going towards basic maintenance if this backlog was growing?
- Most of all, where is the accountability? How can they call themselves good stewards of these facilities?
As the Italians say, Basta! Enough. I see no good way to spin their way out of this.
And look, I'm sure many people (including some here) will say - at least on the subject of the underspending on basic maintanance, "Well, what's done is done. We have to get the money to fix these buildings." I get that but I maintain voters need to lobby the Mayor, the City Council, candidates for those posts and say, "You must help us extract some accountability and promises from the district." Meaning, they have to spend more - now - on basic maintenance or we will never get out from under this backlog.
I will not vote for the BTA III levy (and kids, I do believe they put money in there for the Roosevelt cameras that I want for that building) if there are not promises made with real accountability and outcomes to staff if promises are not kept.