Sunday, August 15, 2010

BEX Oversight Committee Meeting

On Friday, I attended the BEX Oversight Committee meeting (so did Director Kay Smith-Blum). There were only 3 members of the actual committee in attendance but about 7-8 staff. (It was interesting because one member of the committee said the staff didn't need to stay but apparently they all wanted the tour even though the building isn't finished. They had no other work to do?)

We met at Hale and had a good tour. First impressions:
  • I feel like the building is going to be far better to navigate than the old one. (The old building had so many hidey spaces I couldn't believe an adult had designed it.
  • It has a functional feel to it with not a lot of "design" feel to it (as opposed to say, Hamilton).
  • The color scheme seems to be beech-toned wood, brown and ...white. Yes, white floors in the halls, white cabinets (great for an art room) and white lockers. (A joke was made about how bad the red, white and blue school colors looked at the old school but at least you knew they were the school colors. I'm thinking you'll see it more in a the Commons/gym areas.) I could have seen brown floors and maybe white for the lockers/cabinets but I wonder how this will look in 5-10 years. They did use an interesting stone-like surface in some places that has an anti-graffiti surface.
  • The library has a wall of windows, very airy, comfy seats (best library chairs ever) but again with the low shelving (as at Hamilton). I would hate to be the librarian or student having to bend and look for books.
  • 75% of construction is done and they plan on a Fall 2011 opening
  • they've done a variety of energy efficient things like a radiant floor in the art room heated by ground source wells (they would have done it for the whole school but not enough room for more wells). A heads up, though; there are rooms where they have some kind of energy equipment along the entire wall by the windows. Apparently, these rooms will have no AC but have ceiling fans and the teachers can open the windows and "close the blinds".
  • there's going to be a great dedicated kitchen for classroom use in domestic sciences
  • they showed us where the Commons is to be (a real construction zone right now) and said there would be a temporary hallway down it so students could use it during construction. Boy, that seems kind of loud to me but I'm sure they have it figured out.
  • There is also a couple of hallways with low ceilings in this textured blue material. I'm thinking the kids will be sticking pencils up there; it just says "stick stuff in me" or "see if you can touch me" (most teens will easily be able to jump and touch it/members of the basketball team will just reach up).
  • There will be 8 science classrooms with smartboards and 8 math rooms with smartboards.
  • We even visited the greenhouse which seems like a good walk from the school across the street and up the hill behind Addams. They used poly carbonate walls instead of glass because they are next to a baseball field. Also, it's hard to believe but they have a retractable roof for the greenhouse (for energy efficiency we were told) and they even have security cameras for it. (The last BEX meeting they said Hale staff wanted 100 cameras but I was told they were only getting 54 which I think is still higher than Ballard or Garfield.)
  • The highlight was the wonderful offices for C89.5 FM (they played Lady Gaga before she was popular). Just wonderful and functional. However, the district only paid for the facilities; all the new equipment is coming from a capital campaign by the staff/parents.
What was interesting is the difference in how buildings look if they are not historic remodels. Hale is not.

Other updates:

Denny/Sealth - The auditorium will not be done by the opening this fall. They are opening Sealth and, very funny, will have signs at the end of the halls where the two schools will connect (do not enter plus an alarm). They will have about 100 cameras between the two schools.

Hamilton - It is complete. The music rooms will be short of storage so probably only the larger instruments can be stored at least when it opens. It was stated that the pre-engineering lab will not be occupied this school year but no explanation why not.

South Shore - the carpet was all removed, the concrete ground down (to get rid of the moisture), sanded, new epoxy and new padding and carpet. Between redoing it and moving the school out, the cost is about $1.5M. They have tested a cross-section of rooms and found nothing and the Department of Health signed off on it.

There were questions about how this happened. Apparently the district got all the contractors in a room (with some kind of document stating no one would face litigation) to find out what happened. The district lawyer said they were talking with the main contractor and were "trying" to get the money back.

The head of the Committee pressed the lawyer that the public needs to know what happened. The lawyer seemed nonplussed and said they sent the parents a letter but they don't propose to send out a press release. (And why? Because they would likely have to explain the cost and how they are probably not getting much back from any contractor.)

Ingraham - According to the lawyer, the city hearing examiner ruled for the district (although there is still an injunction in place). The plaintiffs have filed an appeal which would be heard in January. The district's next step is to get that injunction lifted and get new bids. (This has all dragged out so long, the bids have probably expired.) If a bid is okayed by the Board in October, then the district's first move would be to cut down the 27 trees they want to get rid of.

One Committee member expressed worry if the plaintiffs should prevail and yet the district cut the trees by then. That was pretty much a shrug moment meaning, if the trees have been cut, oh well. (The district is going to replant some trees but they won't be the same kinds and naturally not the same size.)

The lawyer did say that if the plaintiffs appealed, the district might have to build in the other direction and, allegedly, build all the way to the sidewalk. (I'm having a hard time believing that one.)

There was one final discussion - this one on the troubled Small Business program that was one of the findings of the recent State Audit report - but I want that to have a thread of its own. It gets more and more interesting all the time.


Michael said...

"It gets more and more interesting all the time."

Do tell.......!!!

Charlie Mas said...

Tell me again why this committee has the word "oversight" in its name. At best, it monitors. It does not oversee ANYTHING.

The Committee has no authority whatsoever. No wonder members stop coming to the meetings. What's the point?

There is a long history of staff and vendors withholding information from this committee, providing the committee with misinformation, and providing the committee with disinformation.

None of the cover-up or sneaking about is necessary since, as mentioned, the committee has no authority and, not mentioned, the committee is totally in the pocket of the staff and the vendors anyway.

This is the committee that didn't even whisper any concern as the budgets for Garfield and Roosevelt shot through the roof. This is the committee that didn't offer so much as a grunt of concern when the Ingraham project ran into serious and effective opposition. This is the committee that believed stories about the Sealth community wanting to co-locate with Denny.

Unknown said...

Charlie, maybe someone confused "oversight" with "over look".