I went to the Board meeting two weeks ago and a couple of Work Sessions/Committee meetings. This thread is the Board meeting and Operations Ctm. meeting. Here are the highlights:
This was the one where the high school basketball teams were honored. Very fun to be there (although the Garfield boys wanted to look as serious as possible).
Paul Apostle of HR said they were making "exceptional" progress to hire early in hard-to -fill posts like Sped and ELL.
There was a bit of mention for Genesee Hill which is now running about $2M behind. As Chris Jackins pointed out, just looking at the site, you can see potential problems. I'm not sure why this wasn't apparent sooner.
The later start for secondary schools had about 3800 signatures by then.
One lone NW Center father spoke about the issue of where their program will end up. He did say they didn't want to stay but that the district should "own" what they did in terms of delaying an announcement that gave NW Center not nearly enough time to find a new situation.
A heads up - to me, at least - about the amount of oxygen that Pre-K is going to take in our district. To be sure, pre-school is key for many students and I support expansion. BUT, we need to keep in mind that the district's LEGAL responsibility is K-12. I support the district helping the City in its efforts but not at the expense of the district's real duty.
I note that Director Blanford when on a trip with Flip Herndon of Facilities (along with two other staffers) just to visit pre-schools. This kind of time makes me worry. Because, again, there are priorities and yet I have wonder who is setting them. Director Blanford had no meeting in March (he does have one in April on the 19th but it is not yet on the district calendar) but he had time to go over to Boston and NJ for this effort.
- the annual report on rental, lease and sale of property came off the agenda and was send to A&F "where it should have been."
- there was the annual report from the BEX Oversight Committee and it had some interesting items. Stephen Palewicz came to represent the group. He said they were NOT there for design review but to give input. He mentioned it might be good to have Facilities come in as part of their discussions. He said, "the earlier, the better."
He said some areas of concern for BEX IV are:
- increase in construction costs. In the past, I really believe this was puffed up and used sometimes as an excuse for lack of planning. Not now. This city is full of cranes (especially on the main I-5 corridor). I suspect that costs will go up as there is more construction happening.
- he said in BEX III, there had been decisions to "accelerate" projects and this affects costs
- He also said that there was "project scope creep" and I agree that it happens a lot.
- He said there needed to be a balance struck for the first costs for systems along with what maintenance will costs and that needs to be factored into "green" building
Director Blanford asked a good question, "Is it in your role to look at a design project and say no?" The answer was "No, that's not what we do."
So to understand.
The public is voting for a pot of dollars for a "list" of projects (that may or may not end up being what happens).
There's a BEX Oversight Ctm that reviews projects for issues and offers expert input. But, they, too, do NOT review the designs on a vote. I have never heard - once - of the BEX Oversight Committee going to the Board to protest a building design.
Lastly, there's the Board. Do they vote for designs? They do not. They vote in the money on a design but have little power to change the design.
So basically, it's the architects, contractors and Capital building staff that have final say on building designs (with some cosmetic input from staff/parents/public). I personally find this disturbing given the money involved and the long-term outcomes to schools and communities.
There was a bit of a roundabout discussion of capital versus maintenance (which eluded Director Patu). But it was not conclusive about where the money goes.
Green Lake elementary is getting a lunchroom (not a new one, they never had one to begin with) along with one new portable (that replaces 2 that were 50+ years old). They will have a stage-music classroom and the maximum bid if $2.M. Their green features will be rain gardens anda water cistern.
Jane Addams report. They will be trying to do as much work as they can during the summer. They are providing an art and science classroom (unclear if one each), new counselor office, seismic updates and a music room. The total cost is $11.5M. They had to add a new elevator in because the old one is so old, no one makes them and parts are too hard to find to keep it running. (No mention of the issue of replacing the backflow regulator that was causing the fire alarm to go off. I don't know what it ended up costing.) That elevator won't be replaced until next October for about $200K. Director Blanford said he had never been in the building.
Gatewood Elementary needs a new roof but again, it was a musical dance about where the money came from. I believe it was stated BTA III and BEX IV. BTA III did NOT have Gatewood on the list but they found "underspend" but it wasn't enough. They decided they had not been doing enough risk mitigation and are paying for roofer "fall" protection.
Roofs generally last 20-25 years. A flat roof takes a bigger beating than a pitched roof (although the pitched roofs lose shingles more often.)
- architect has been modifying specs to put in K-8
- they are saying 850 for the number of middle school students
- Director Blanford noted it was a small "envelope" which he had to be gently corrected on as it is one of the largest pieces of property being built on.
- middle school will be 3 stories, elementary 2-stories; the third floor in the middle school will be for their use only
- childcare will be in a separate building off the office. (it was unclear if they meant a totally different building or just area).
- no outdoor amphitheater; what they had planned was simply to save money in grading the land in that area but I think it got too much pushback.
- I see in the plans, there are to be lockers.