Sunday, February 03, 2008

We're Drowning in a Backlog of Maintenance

There was a little blurb, back in late January, buried in the PI saying that the district has a backlog of about $485 M in deferred maintenance "largely because of construction levy-failures in the '90s and inadequate state funding for education". Based on my research, I wouldn't dispute either claim - the costs or why. Problem is, it doesn't solve the how - how to catch up, what is going to happen if we don't and how, despite huge strides in construction, we really have a lot left to do.

I know there are seismic issues at many, many schools (which regularly get scoffed at here) but all I can tell you is we haven't had a really BIG earthquake. (I lived in San Francisco and know what it feels like.) If that day comes, there will be a lot of damage at a lot of schools. But then you have stuff like roofs, plumbing, heating; the day to day items that make a school livable.

I think Maintenance and Facilities are getting to a desperate place because of this issue. So many people think it vital that the outside of the building, things like paint and landscaping, "curb appeal" issues are important to keeping neighborhoods supporting their schools and parents wanting to enroll in schools but all of that falls by the wayside when the guts of the school are failing.

I know from different sources that the district may end up selling land to get money they desperately need to maintain our buildings. I wouldn't be surprised (and many people already believe this the case) if the district sells the MLK land, the John Marshall land and maybe the Denny land (if it gets rebuilt next to Sealth or rather, co-joined with Sealth). They need the money. It's hard to know the right thing to do when you're between a rock and a hard place.


dan dempsey said...

I would sell nothing until after the "NEWS" lawsuit is settled.

I am betting on lead attorney Thomas Ahearne to win this one. I rank him as a 70-30 favorite.

When he wins it for NEWS, then SPS will have enough money to educate children properly. The Denny / Sealth mangling should not continue if the reason is inadequate funds.
Waiting makes more sense than 50 years of sorrow.

Charlie Mas said...

So, if there is a $500 million backlog, why isn't that how we spend a $500 million levy?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Because Charlie, that's for capital improvements, not maintenance. You'll notice the BTA is usually smaller but I think that's because the district may be fearful of asking for a large amount. It might be better to go for a larger BTA next time and a small BEX to take care of more problems at more schools.