Friday, December 14, 2007

Final Closure and Consolidation Finance Information

From the district's School Beat:

"Director DeBell provided a summary of the final report on
school closure, which is available at:

Some of the highlights include:
• Enrollment – just over 50 percent of students from closed schools enrolled in the designated receiving schools. Of the remaining 366 students, 154 left the District (a quarter of these were nonresidents).• Capital costs of the move will likely come in just underbudget at $1.5 million, which includes $400,000 to build a teen parent program center at South Lake.
• Long-term capital savings are estimated at $44 million for BTA-type projects and $351 million in levy projects.
• General fund costs were higher than estimated at $927,000.
• General fund savings in the first year, originally estimated to be $2.48 million, are $1.9 million. Savings are reduced because the Marshall building remained open for one more year, and Columbia is being used as the interim site for The New School.
• $1 million of the $1.9 million savings was directed back to the classroom via K-2 libraries, math adoption, and an additional staff member at each of the receiving schools."

The whole report is actually quite illuminating. Some other interesting things about it:

- MLK did the worst in student movement to a receiving school (TT Minor) at 36.2% with Viewlands at 58.3% going to Broadview-Thompson.

-"The original estimate for capital expenditures was between $1,455,000 and $1,495,000. As ofOctober 1, 2007 we had expended $1,077,983.00.1 We expect that number to go up slightly as a few lingering invoices are submitted, however, we still anticipate coming in under budget in the capital arena. The total includes $400,000 to build a new teen parenting program at South Lake to replace the program at John Marshall.
We expect a few additional projects to come out of the FY 2008 budget—we’re estimating $72,000 to install a window at Broadview-Thomson, finish the special education preschool playground at West Seattle Elementary, and complete a library work room build-out at Whitworth. In addition 2008 will see the completion of the greenhouse for Orca, which was a previously scheduled BTA II project."

I had wondered where the money was coming for the teen parenting program at South Lake. It has absolutely no business in this issue or from this pot of money. It should have been in BEX III. Also, this is the first I had heard that the teen parenting program at John Marshall would be closed. I had also advocated for more of the receiving schools to get upgrades from BEX III but they didn't. I'll have ask where this money actually came from. For example, Orca should have lockers if it's a K-8 and that's not reflected here.

-The district is counting on huge capital cost savings in not having these buildings open especially from seismic costs.

-There was a lot of honesty in the document. For example:

"It is clear that, especially in Seattle, where we have contracts that require people to be paid to move and where costs in general are higher, closing buildings is an expensive endeavor. However, these one-time costs are not so great that they detract from the overall savings (both general fund and capital fund) of having fewer buildings to maintain and staff. Honesty in the closure costs, along with an acknowledgment that we are committed to making closure asuccessful process for all involved, will make future budgeting for closures an easier and more transparent process."

It's good they acknowledge this but once again a statement like, "we'll try harder in the future to make things more transparent", gets old.

-I found this interesting:
"The delay in closing the John Marshall building, and the decision to move The New School into the Columbia building while their building was being completed reduced those savings to $1.9 million."
I hadn't known they weren't going to move New School out during their rebuild. That's quite a large cost.

- Problem: "Now, with some time and distance from the process, the principals have had time to reflect and offer suggestions for future school closure processes.
One item that has come up repeatedly is a belief that the process was under-funded and undermanaged."
Solution: "A suggestion made was to dedicate one central staff member to each pair of schools(closed and receiving) and make that person the liaison for the operational aspects of this process."

-More honesty:
"Principals also stressed the need for honesty throughout the process. We appeared too facile inour comments that everything would be better in the new buildings. It is true that with more students the schools can provide more services. However, that is small solace to teachers who are involuntarily removed from an environment they have created and are placed into a new environment with new people and new processes.
Communication throughout this process was relatively poor, in part because no one working on the project had done closures before, and in part because the project was under-funded and under-managed.

I give them points for some real honesty in their assessments. I deduct points for this coming as a surprise; one of the members of the C&C Committee did a report on the closures in the '80s that covered some of this. I'll be interested to see the reaction from different groups when this information is widely disseminated.

(All italics mine.)


Charlie Mas said...

From the District’s report on school closures dated 11/14/07:

The original estimate for capital expenditures was between $1,455,000 and $1,495,000. As of October 1, 2007 we had expended $1,077,983.00.1 We expect that number to go up slightly as a few lingering invoices are submitted, however, we still anticipate coming in under budget in the capital arena. The total includes $400,000 to build a new teen parenting program at South Lake to replace the program at John Marshall.

It is clear that the District has already decided to relocate the teen parenting program to South Lake High School. In fact, this decision was clearly made some time ago. There has been no other public acknowledgement of this decision. It was never announced.

The decision to relocate the Teen Parenting Program to South Lake strikes me as odd. First, South Lake High School is NOT centrally located. It is hardly an appropriate location for an all-city draw. Second, I'm surprised by the description of the teen parent at South Lake as "new". The Superintendent's closure recommendation document from June 2006 makes reference to such a program there.

"Last, the Teen Parenting Program will be evaluated in light of the similar program at South Lake High School."

So is the teen parenting program at South Lake new or not?

The capital savings for the school closures was reported as $44.8 million in BTA expenditure savings and $351 million in avoided levy costs. What does this mean? Does it mean that the District has canceled $44.8 million in projects that were planned and allocated out of the current BTA levy? And what are the $351 million in projects? Was this money that the District was actually going to spend, or is this the total of deferred maintenance costs for the buildings? This is all very unclear.

Anonymous said...

South Lake had a parenting class, and a child care in the building that accepted children from the larger community as well as children of South Lake students. This is not the same as the Graduation Reality and Dual Role Skills (GRADS) Program at Marshall, in which the parenting class and childcare are tied together. Students who use Marshall's child care must take the parenting class.

Since the district isn't admitting new students to Marshall, the program has shrunk drastically. Two of the four students enrolled currently actually attend Roosevelt and take the one class at Marshall. The other two live in the north end. While Seattle does need a similar program in the south end, I'm betting the current GRADS students aren't going to be lugging their babies down to South Lake next year.

All of this when teen pregnancies are up for the first time since 1991.


Anonymous said...

Re the New School - it was said all along that the part of the South Shore bldg it occupied would have to be demolished - what I wonder is where it was supposed to go when that happened (i.e., before it was known that there would be the musical chairs exercise that was Whitworth to Dearborn Park and ORCA to Whitworth).

What a boondoggle - really. The New School could easily have been moved to one of the great buildings in the South End that isn't full and a new middle school (what the area really needs) built at South Shore.

Now when/if the money runs out at TNS as it did at TT Minor, the district will have a PK-8 literally a stone's throw from a K-5 (Dunlap) without the special appeal it now has (i.e., it's now just one more SPS school) - or it will be the call for BEX x dollars to revamp the PK-8 to a 6-8.

Either way, not very strategic and a whole lot of taxpayer dollars that could have been spent more effectively.

Anyone know who wrote this report? I agree with Melissa about the surprising degree of candor. Doesn't sound like any of the facilities people or the Books and Bricks team of Holly Ferguson, Hajara Rajim, et al.

Barbara Morey said...

Re: Marshall teen parenting (GRADS) program. A few years ago there was a remodeling project at Marshall to create a $40,000 day care facility for infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers and parenting teens.

That facility was closed this year, so in effect, the GRADS program at Marshall has already been dismantled.

It is my understanding that the new day care center being built at South Lake does not have an adequate facility to serve any but infants. No toddlers, no pre-schooler age. Does anyone know if this is fact or just a rumor? And it appears that the services will be just day care, not teen parenting programs as existed at Marshall. And why have the ONLY program in the south end? Marshall is centrally located and on bus routes.

Further,re: Marshall, I am very concerned about services for the level 4 kids with severe mental illness and behavioral disabilities that has been housed there.

I have had a child in this program. We have heard nothing about the transition plans for these students for next year when Marshall is actually closed.

My child has become so upset by the chaos that has resulted in lack of transparency in plans to close Marshall, that she has quit school. Her stated reason was that she couldn't take the "disrespect" that is happening towards Marshall staff and students.

We have been asking for clarification of plasn for both programs and the use of the facility for over a year, but have had no response from district officials.

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