One, every single student deserves a clean, well-maintained, safe building to call "my school." It would be great if the technology is up-to-date and there is natural light and flow to the building to create an inviting atmosphere.
Two, the taxpayers of Seattle vote in ever-increasing huge sums of money for these buildings. And, yet the district does not maintain the system properly. As well, the district has a very convoluted idea that they can move money around from BEXs and BTAs and claim all the work promised will be done. I have disputed that claim for a long time and I still believe it.
There has never been a transparent accounting of all the dollars in the BEXs and BTAs and what work actually happened. Never.
Yesterday, I received the notice of the upcoming BEX Oversight Committee meeting on Friday morning. The notice included several documents including the minutes from the last meeting as well as a status report on BEX IV projects and other major projects. I wrote to the Board this morning about them. (I note that Directors Burke and Geary were at the December meeting.)
I can only say I'm appalled. I'm sure there are MANY reasons for what is happening as stated in the minutes but, at this point, I don't care.
- The district should not be robbing Peter to pay Paul.
- The district General Fund should not get interest dollars for money coming from the Capital fund.
- The district should be transparent about what money they are spending and on what. If they took/borrowed money from Capital to put into General, we should get to know how much and where it went.
- The district should not make promises to school communities and/or voters that they cannot/will not keep.
- The district should not be creating secret documents only for the eyes of certain people.
My e-mail to the Board:
I received my e-mail on the upcoming BEX Oversight Committee meeting. I note that Director Burke and Director Geary were in attendance but I'm not sure they notified you as to what was said. As I read thru the minutes from the last meeting, I saw many disturbing issues (bold mine:)
Melissa (Coan) stated that because Arbor Heights project was moved forward, the program budget shows a three million dollar deficit.
Not good. But my issue is that when you look at the December 2016 BEX IV Monthly Report, it looks far more serious than that. But on problem is the constant movement of money from different capital funds (the BEXs and BTAs.)
Other BEX and BTA programs provide SPS with funds. The initial plan was to address the cash flow problems bond to keep SPS in the black for the next few years. It was decided by Assistant Superintendent of Business & Finance, JoLynn Berge that we would use the general fund dollars for this purpose this year as the general fund would benefit from the interest payments.
Wait, what? The district's "cash flow" problems for the General Fund are to be solved thru Capital funds voted in by taxpayers for that express purpose? And, the General Fund, not the Capital fund, will get interest payments?
I'll tell you what; why don't we let the State Auditor look at this one. Because even if it is determined this is legal, I'm sure it's not any kind of best practice. Also, the big question: what is this money being used for? How much is being taken?
Richard Best highlighted the addition of two projects in the - Budget Pressures document, Cedar Park Elementary School and Decatur Elementary School. These schools were added as there is no identified funding source for the purchase of curriculum, furniture, or technology.
Mr. Best also reviewed budget concerns for Horace Mann, Jane Adams, Kimball and Loyal Heights elementary schools as well.
The committee expressed concern that the district has used 90% of the program contingency when there is still 50% of the work left to do in BEX IV. Mr. Best stated that projects occupied Fall of 2016 will be returning funds to the Program Contingency including Genesee Hill, Arbor Heights and Thornton Creek.
Really? Enough to cover the rest of the 40% left to get done? I doubt it.
After some discussion it was decided that Melissa Coan will create a special sheet for only BEX Oversight Committee members which includes the forecast column.
I'm not sure if Ms Coan or the members of the BEX Oversight Committee understand but they are working/volunteering for a public entity. Now I know to request every single document that Ms. Coan generates for the Committee if there are secret documents being created just for them.
The list of projects for BEX IV shows 6 of them overbudget. Mann, Cedar Park, Seattle World School, Hazel Wolf K-8 are "slightly" exceeding their budget while Jane Addams and Loyal Heights "exceed budget allocation."
It also shows that at Lincoln, Wing Luke and Bagley "project budget did not include upgrades to existing failing building systems, BTA levy request."
Again, stealing from Peter to pay Paul. Voters expect that those capital funds be spent as promised. What exactly will happen in those buildings if those upgrades don't happen?
Seattle Schools Community Forum blog