I would really love to go in-depth on this subject right now but I am running a state-wide campaign against I-1240 (so I have my hands full).
However Facilities has always had a special place in my heart so I digress to put up this post.
Charlie has pointed out the numerous issues of the lack of clarity in this BEX. Frankly, I'm not sure the district has a real plan.
Again, instead of long-range planning and forecasting (could they please just hire Kellie LaRue already), it's triage and putting out fires.
It is also the wages of sin. And the biggest sin our district has is to put off what needs to get done. They started pulling back on basic maintenance in the late '70s and never looked back. The chickens have come home to roost, folks.
We also have quite a few elderly buildings (over 40-50 years old). Those buildings are in constant need of repair and maintenance. I think most of you and most taxpayers would be shocked at the millions and millions that have been poured into mostly small buildings that needed shoring up. It's something of a fools game but the district doesn't have a choice.
And now they are facing down the mother of all BEXs because it's not just about old buildings jockeying for position. It's about:
- permanent program placement for groups like NOVA, APP, and the World School
- promises made and not kept like funding like the World School getting $14M in one BEX and it mysteriously drops down to $10-11M (depending on which staff you talk to). To be clear, every single person sitting on the Board today knows that the original sum was $14M and no one has ever publicly asked why it was reduced.
I really should go back through my files and contrast what voters were told with what was done with BEX money. And promises made to schools. Let us know what promises you heard for your school building and the source of that promise.
- the inability for our district to forecast - with any accuracy - our enrollment. Millions wasted on closed and reopening schools.
- pressure from downtown for their elementary school. There should be NO money set aside for this. Not because it isn't a good idea and might be needed in the future (it surely is not needed now) but because there are so many other pressing needs. It has that "let them eat cake" smell about it. If there is not an organized plan of having an elementary, middle (or K-8) and high school for downtown and WHERE they would go, then they don't need money on this BEX.
- that this BEX was supposed to be the middle school BEX. Because we have gone through nearly every high school but we do have our largest middle schools that have been quietly waiting for help. It would appear they will wait longer.
I am going to try to attend the BEX on Thursday. I hope to NOT see any video touting the benefits of BEX. I hope to not see a short Q&A time if there are questions that everyone wants to hear answers to about this capital building cycle.
I don't think the district really has a clue how close they might be to losing this thing. If you can't get parents on-board, you're in trouble.
Last thing - if I-1240 passes and charters come in - all bets are off for BEX IV. Because you see, the initiative has the trigger takeover of ANY existing school. Over at the Washington Policy Center, they are saying they think 37 of the 40 charters WILL be conversion charters. Since charters are largely an urban issue, where do you think that will happen?
And then, according to the initiative, those conversion charters get their share of this BEX levy and this operations levy. The BEX share would likely be about $7-8M per charter. That would change everything. (Conversion charters get their share of any levies passed BEFORE they were enacted. New charters get their share of any levy money of levies passed AFTER they are enacted.)
Are you ready to see your levy money go to a building that may not even need capital money? Because I can see - and I'll say this outloud - a group coming in to take over South Shore K-8. I would not be surprised at all if parents or teachers at that school allowed that to happen. The district then loses a new $73M building that probably doesn't need capital money but yes, they will get it. And operations money as well.
Good luck to us all if that happens.