Monday, April 21, 2008

The Board's Focus

Have you ever noticed how many of the Board's actions are related to property management?

Look at the Board's agenda for this week.

Here's a list of the stuff they are considering:

1. Review and approve minutes of last meeting
2. Approve warrants
3. BEX III - Denny/Sealth
4. BEX III - Ingraham
5. BEX III - Nathan Hale
6. BEX III - Denny/Sealth
7. BEX III - Ingraham
8. BEX III - Nathan Hale
9. BEX III - Hamilton
10. BEX III - Denny/Sealth
11. BEX III - Ingraham
12. BEX III - Nathan Hale
13. BEX III - Denny/Sealth
14. BEX III - Ingraham
15. BEX III - Nathan Hale
16. Sale of Queen Anne Gym
17. Modify Lease on Lake City School
18. Garfield/Interbay land swap
19. BEX III - Budget transfer

Other than the minutes and the warrants, it is all about property management in one way or another. There is no mention of teaching and learning, and for sure no mention of Policy. There is no question about how the Board spends its time, but shouldn't we question whether this is how they SHOULD spend their time?

Seattle Public Schools is, without a doubt, one of the largest landowners in King County if not the state. There is hardly a school site that isn't worth at least $1 million and many of the hundred or so which are worth considerably more. For all of the property that the District owns and operates is there anyone who would like the District to manage their property for them? I don't think so.

The District should not be in the property management business. It isn't their focus, it isn't their core competence, it isn't critical to their mission. They should outsource this work to someone who knows how to do it and do it right. Then the District should focus on teaching and learning and the Board should focus on Policy.


anonymous said...

I'm curious where the Lake City School is? Is it in Lake City, in the NE cluster, where more capacity is needed?

I know Ravenna School is. It's currently being used as the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center and it's right around the corner from Bryant elementary. Does anyone know if that building was sold or leased? Does the district still own it, and could they decide to use it for a school again? I love having a community center but there are 4 other centers within 2 miles 2 miles of Rav/Eckstein community center there are 4 other community centers (Magnuson, Meadowbrook, Northgate, Laurelhurst), as well as the Lake City Family center.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Most of this stuff is legal requirements to get state matching funds. So okay except for the usual oddities.
Charlie had asked, in another post, what was up with this land swap with the Parks department of some Interbay land (District) with Garfield land (city parks). What's odd about this?

1) they constructed the buildings in this particular motion BEFORE the swap was approved (this started more than 2 years ago). I guess the Parks Department and district staff were so sure of this going thru that the district went ahead and built the Garfield buildings on the City's land.

2) here's the swap:
"74,752 square feet of existing sports field at Interbay for 35,586 square feet of existing sports field at Garfield Playfield"

They also say:
"The two properties have been appraised and are substantially equal in value."

Can it be that the district actually made a good deal here (even if after the fact somewhat) even if we are giving up more land than the city?

Then there's the BEX III Budget transfer which is described this way:

"At the November 14, 2007 Board meeting the School Board of Director’s approved $14,449,482 of the BEX III Program Reserve to be allocated to the BEX III projects to cover potentially higher than budgeted construction escalation. This action is consistent with Board policy on conservative budgeting. A caveat of that approval was to return unused escalation funds from the projects after the construction project(s) were bid."

Okay but in the original motion, in October of 2007, here's what Facilities said,

"We FULLY (caps mine) expects those bids for these two projects to be nearly $10M over our budget (Hamilton $5.2M and South Shore (New School)$4.6)."

And they say at the end:

"Conclusion - Current construction market conditions have improved in the Puget Sound thus far in the bidding of the school projects. However, construction pricing remains volatile and there is no sustained evidence that favorable bids will continue for Nathan Hale, Denny Sealth or the Ingraham projects.
Recommendation - Approve the transfer of funds back to the BEX III Program Reserve Accounts. This action does not affect the amounts for construction contingencies previously established for the projects."

Hmmm, it seems like they are trying to cover ALL their bases. It's true; no one knows what will happen in the economy but they were absolutely sure that they would be over budget. And yet that didn't happen. This will be interesting to see if the other projects bid at their projections and if they are built within budget.

Charlie Mas said...

The more I see the work product from the folks in Facilities, the less I want them doing this work.

dan dempsey said...

Perhaps the facilities leaders should trade positions with the math program decision makers?

Hey its worth a try things can't get much worse in either place.

Melissa Westbrook said...

One other thing on the agenda; COO Don Kennedy is going to discuss the migration from the VAX system which is key to changing the assignment plan.