Wednesday, October 04, 2006

School Board Meeting Tonight

I am unable to attend the Board Meeting tonight at 6 pm at the John Stanford Center, but hope many people can. Much of the public testimony is on the Phase II closure recommendations and BEX III. see agenda

I can't decipher what the Action Items and Introduction Items are really about. But if you attend and take notes tonight, please send me a message (E-mail Beth) and I will post the information for everyone to read.


Anonymous said...

I can't attend tonight and hope someone does and can post notes.

As I previously mentioned, I have been researching BEX III. Fred Stephens replied to an e-mail (and, off topic, ever notice that district staff only answer the questions they want to and ignore any others you ask?)I sent to him, Raj, Brita and Mark Green.

On my question of alignment with school closures (which, technically, isn't his job or problem but I wondered if the Board or other staff had given Facilities staff any guidance), he said that the list "complimented the capacity issues being tackled". They deliberately didn't include elementaries because Phase II isn't done. (Please. They know which schools won't be closed and they know which ones need repair. But, because the top elementaries that need repair are white, middle-class schools and the closure list has many schools with mostly minority populations, well, it wouldn't look good.)

He also made it sound like the building being built at South Shore could be a high school, K-8, middle or elementary. Huh? that's a trick. His point is to try to make it look like they need another building in that area without saying it's for New School (which it is). It is a problem saying that because if they are not building for a specific school, why build at all? They have no legal obligation to build for New School but I suspect New School has made it clear they will take their money and leave if they don't get one.

He provided documents that detail the seismic problems at Hale and Ingraham. They are nearly identical with Hale having slightly more problems. Okay, I get that. So I wrote back, asking if Hamilton will get bumped back because Hale students are in such danger. He made it very clear how serious the situation is at Hale and if it is, then they should be next after Garfield. Otherwise, I guess it just isn't so serious. (I told him that adults drive the Viaduct and make that choice everyday but that kids don't have a choice about going to school so if an earthquake happens and Hale falls then adults are responsible for their lack of urgency.)

Here was the most interesting paragraph:
"The infrastructure fund included in BEX III is to supplement work
started in BTA II. We still have two-thirds of the money yet to spend
on BTA II which gets to almost every school in the district. The BTA II
levy is $190 million dollars for roofs, floors, technology and some
academic upgrades for 496 projects between 2004 and 2010. A lot of the
projects people desire will happen in 2008-2010, when the largest amount of money is programmed to be spent. We will be planning a renewal of BTA in 2008-09, again to target almost all schools with major
maintenance items."

They haven't spent 2/3 of the BTA money? When did they get this money and why is taking so long to start? I know they can't have lots of projects all going at once but I have to wonder about how this facilities money is flying around and who is really tracking it.

Brita wrote and told me that I should send my thoughts to an appropriate Board member because staff is pretty busy. Based on the varied response I get from Board members, I'm not sure that's a fair option.

I sent some other questions to Brita and company. I have no idea if they will answer them. I did drop the idea that, despite the citizens of Seattle being very generous, I don't know that I believe, in this climate, that the district is in a good position. If the BEX III looks like yet another list of schools with no connection to school closures, it may backfire.

Anonymous said...

Regarding some of the stuff on the agenda for tonight.

In order for the District to get money from the State for school construction projects they have to certify that the change will not create a racial imbalance as defined by state law. I checked the Hamilton renovation - it won't.

There's a lot of property management stuff on the agenda tonight, just as there always is. I once made a count of Board votes and found that about 40% were directly about property management in one way or another. About 30% of them are routine business items that simply require Board approval for legal reasons. Very little was actually related to POLICY.

The District should out-source all property management not only so they can have real professionals doing the work, but so they can get out of the property management business and focus on academics.

Roy Smith said...

I'm not sure about outsourcing property management work, at least not wholesale. We already have a problem of the facilities/operations tail wagging the academics dog, and that could easily be exacerbated with a poorly thought out outsourcing of property management. Additionally, it is not clear that any money would be saved - the only clear advantage about third party property management (in any context) is that the property managers profit nicely, and maybe not everybody would see that as an advantage. Costs might not noticeably change, district staff would still need to be engaged (to keep an eye on the property management firm), and some measure of control is actually lost.

Anonymous said...

One reason the moneys might not have been spent is because they haven't been collected yet. BEX II is a levy, not a bond, so money cannot be spent until it is collected from the taxpayers. Interestingly, the District is considering making BEX III a bond, so that they can spend before they collect. The good side of this, it saves money since construction costs are forecast to increase faster that the interest on the bonds. The bad side is that a new bond measure is less likely to pass than a "replacement" levy measure because one will be perceived as new $$ and the other as a continuation of a current program.

Roy Smith said...

Did anything interesting happen at the board meeting tonight?

Beth Bakeman said...

Wish I knew. News anyone? Send it to me using the E-mail Beth link in this post or in the Links at the right.