Monday, February 25, 2008

Those Interesting Board Agendas

You'd think the Board agendas, with their Consent agendas and Action Items, might not be all that interesting. But I give the Board much credit with fleshing out the agendas by having links to information about them. Like this one:

"Establish a line item budget of $2.5 million for interim sites. Monies will be drawn from the BEX III Program Reserve."

Now this item didn't surprise me all that much until I read the whole thing. Here's the gist of it:

"The BEX III budget did not have a specific line item budget for miscellaneous work at interim school sites to house staff and students during construction and renovation of the BEX III schools. This motion provides a line item budget of $2.5 million for interim sites. Monies will be drawn from the BEX III Program Reserve.
Interim schools covered under this budget line item include Columbia, Lincoln, Boren and the portable campus at Nathan Hale High School."

Now this strikes me as odd that they wouldn't have put a line item for this given how many projects they want to do at once. I knew they needed to help Hale, seeing as how Hale will stay put and have the work done around them. But I didn't know that Columbia (New School), Lincoln (Hamilton) and Boren (Sealth) were that bad off, particularly Lincoln. But there's more:

"After the Board approved transfers totaling approximately $14.4 million to the project budgets to cover higher than expected escalation at the November 14, 2006 meeting, approximately $5.6 million remained in the Program Reserve. Upon Board approval of the above motion, approximately $3.1 million will be left in the Program Reserve."

Really? I knew that the $20M Reserve fund had already been dipped into for the Hamilton/New School projects (although Facilities has talked for years about construction escalation costs so why this would be unexpected isn't clear) but I missed that they have taken nearly all of it for these two projects. Now they are taking another $2.5M and leaving $3.1M.

Wow. That's not much this early on.

That does explain Facilities rush earlier this year to get the Board to take each project's 15% contingency and lump them together into one pot (which they approved). Facilities needed to be able to have another reserve fund because this one is almost gone.

So cross your fingers, Hale, New School, Hamilton and Denny/Sealth (especially Denny as you will likely be the last to be renovated) - you might have to cut back in your project if some other project eats up these reserve dollars.


Anonymous said...

So if money is getting that short, and our boiler is 50-55 years old (compared to other 80-100 year old boilers you've spoken of elsewhere), why not just drop Sealth from the current go-around? The boiler hasn't broken in 4 years and it's apparently mostly small components that need some upgrade. I'd hate to be responsible for delaying water/air quality improvements elsewhere and we really want Denny to get a top-notch new school (no cuts there). Maybe Sealth's boiler can go on the next levy to save room for unexpected issues with the other projects and to guarantee that none of them, some likely more pressing timewise than ours, are neglected.

dan dempsey said...

J Wright makes an excellent point.

When you do not have enough funding to complete a project, do not screw it up for that reason. Mr Gilmore and Ms Stuart should hardly be driving the Denny/Sealth mistake any longer.

Do the correct thing for Denny NOW.
Wait for Sealth until BEX IV comes around.

If the SPS perpetrates this option #2 bait and switch fraud upon the voters this week. BEX IV will never pass, until most of the yes voters on BEX III are dead and buried.

Charlie Mas said...

An alternative would be to do Sealth on BEX III and let Denny wait for BEX IV. Then, the money that had been allocated to the Denny project could be used to pay for the VAX migration, for the interim sites, for Wilson-Pacific (which will certainly need some work before the John Marshall students can move in), and for deferred maintenance in other buildings around the District.

Melissa Westbrook said...

J Wright also brings up something that every person who has ever planned a home improvement project knows.

You have to spend to fit your budget.

While Facilities says, over and over, "cost escalation", the Board should say "Live within our means". Which means, you can only spend what you have and if that means cutting back on the design, so be it.

Facilities would likely say that it would cost too much to change the design but I don't buy it. There are many ways to save money on finishes, detailing.

You never hear about any scale-back on a project and it makes me wonder why.

Charlie Mas said...

It may be that the BEX III work planned for Salmon Bay was air quality, not water quality.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, I looked and couldn't find any air quality documents for Salmon Bay, only water. It could be air quality but it isn't on-line.

Charlie Mas said...

So the agenda is out and here is the list for public testimony:

1.Chris Jackins Denny/Sealth
2.Dan Dempsey Denny/Sealth
3.Robert Femiano Denny/Sealth
4.Linda Wiley Denny/Sealth
5.Cory Jaeger Denny/Sealth
6.Charlie Mas Denny/Sealth
7.Delfino Munoz Denny/Sealth
8.John Wright Denny/Sealth
9.Alison Enochs Denny/Sealth
10.Marlene Allbright Denny/Sealth
11.Steve Taylor Denny/Sealth
12.Debbie Taylor Denny/Sealth
13.Kate Martin Denny/Sealth
14.Gavin Layton Denny/Sealth
15.Alyson Hitch Denny/Sealth
16.DuRon Jones Denny/Sealth
17.Nancy Conyers Denny/Sealth
18.Valerie Orrock Denny/Sealth
19.Lex Voor Hoeve Facilities Concerns
20.Linhco Nguyen Math

Charlie Mas said...

It's becoming clear that BEX III is overly ambitious. I would suggest that the District move forward with the Sealth elements of the project on BEX III because they are ready to go and put the Denny project on BEX IV. The concern about escalation is legitimate, but if inflation is making the money burn a hole in their pocket, the District can use the BEX III money allocated to Denny to fix up Wilson-Pacific (Kathy Johnson of Facilities described it as "unihabitable" last year), to do the SBOC job and then to do about $50 million in deferred maintenance all over the District.

Anonymous said...

Why did they load only speakers on Denny/Sealth? Are they going to claim public engagement for this meeting? I called to speak on a different topic, told I was on but that I may get bumped.Can someone explain the rules to me?

dan dempsey said...


Speakers on Action items go first,
in order of call in.

Then if slots are available come introductory item speakers.

If slots are available then come the rest.

It looks like the rest is Linh-Co Nguyen on Math. Given past practices, the SPS will allow additional action item speaker sign-ups. Thus even though her name appears on the list she will be bumped.

I have no idea if these rules are posted anywhere - this is just how most of us have discovered things work. --- maybe there is a communications problem (?)

Charlie Mas said...

Here are the rules for signing up for public testimony.

Anonymous said...


I have to strongly request that Denny go now and Sealth wait for BEX IV if $$ is the issue. Sealth staff truly wants Denny to get a new building - anything that improves Denny really does help us. There may be near total oppostion towards combining the campuses, but there would also be near total Sealth opposition to delaying Denny starting with me.

I understand the financial position, but there's enough frustration in WS already to add Denny to that mix. Frankly, if the district staff did that I could see Sealth staff seeing it as a way to blame us for the problem of no new Denny - how convenient when this problem started by an initial position of "let's just do it, and to heck with talking with the stakeholders". As a stakeholder, just a "whoa" on your thought.