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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Operations Committee Meeting (Facilities Section)

There was much of interest discussed at last week's Operations Committee meeting. I think the Capacity Management issue will be a bigger item of interest but as I stated previously, I'm still waiting for some documents to be on-line so that I can link to them.

There were three documents related to Facilities (not including the monthly summary which is almost useless). Two were labeled "Annual Report" but I'm not sure anyone would think of them as reports. (One page, both sides? Considering all the work done in a year on facilities, how is that a report?)

The first was was an annual report on "BTA Related Information." It reviewed the work need to be done in seven weeks to get BTA projects done on Queen Anne, Rainier View and Viewlands. (The seven-week period was not specified so I don't know when they are talking about. Summer?)

They point out that there are many unknowns in the work. Now look, I get that some of these buildings are old but they go to this excuse a lot. (In fact, they tried to excuse a huge cost overrun on Cleveland by saying they didn't know there was bedrock under the building. They seriously tried to say there was no way of knowing what kind of soil, rock,etc. was under the building AND didn't bother to look back to the '70s when part of the old building was replaced and they found...bedrock.) But if there are lots of "unknowns", it's a great excuse for needing more money.

They also talk about mechanical issues like HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning). On the one hand, you want to get a competitive bid for systems but in terms of maintenance, buying the same system means it is easier for maintenance to fix because they know the system well. Also, these systems become more complex and harder to understand so using one system in all the schools makes sense.

There is also an issue of the timeline to get Board approval for changes to contracts. I understand that this is a time crunch issue when you are working on a construction project. Maybe the Board could figure out a way to put an express rush on some decisions. But these are public properties and public money so yes, there is going to be oversight done to contracts.

They complain about the time because nearly every, single project is in a rush. Why? Because we use interim sites that constantly have the next project in the line. If one project slows down, we have to rush to get it done so the next school can move into the interim site. (This is not how most districts do renovations. They do it on-site like they do at Hale. Takes longer but if issues come up, you're not rushing and paying overtime.)

The other document was the "Capital Programs Annual Report" on BEX III, BTA II and BTA IIII projects. It was labeled draft which is good because it needs to be fleshed out. It reads more like a levy election document than a serious look at those projects. It also mentions nothing about the recent SAO Construction Management audit.

The most interesting document was the "Report on Backlog of Maintenance and Repair 2006-2010".

Bad news first - the backlog continues to climb and we are now between $535M-554M (depending on how many buildings you choose to include). The increase is due to:
  • 11 more schools surveyed and added to the BMAR (backlog of maintenance and repair)
  • other miscellaneous deficiencies identified and added to BMAR
Good news - the rate of the backlog climb has slowed down

Sort of good news - because of the work done on the reopened schools, the BEX schools and BTA schools, all those schools together are reducing the BMAR (but that is only 69 out of 100 schools)

Double-bad news - we still have a lot of rundown schools

So in considering the BMAR, you can look at the work on BTA projects. For example, in summer 2009, they did work at 21 schools for about $13.2M. But, only $9.2M of that work could be said to be BMAR. They did better in the summer of 2010, spending $24.0M and reducing the BMAR by $21.4M.

When it came to energy efficiency, well, we may see savings over time but we didn't get very far with the BMAR. We spent $43.1M at 50 schools. Of that, the district gets grant money of $13.0M. It only reduced the BMAR by $10.4M.

As for BEX III, well, they did something kind of crafty which was to NOT have surveyed those BEX buildings in the BMAR (except for one). So the BEX III investment is $473M in seven buildings. Of that, the one surveyed reduced the BMAR by $24.8M - the Facilities guy didn't know which building. With a little other work, BEX III reduced the BMAR by $31.0M overall.

So a couple of issues to please keep on your radar.
  • The district is proposing to cut back on maintenance in next year's budget. We have cut back and cut back since the late '70s. We CANNOT BEX or BTA our way out of this backlog. It just keeps coming. When will this matter to the Board?
I told the Board at the public hearing on the Construction Management audit this: it is disrespectful to voters to not maintain these brand-new multi-million dollar buildings. It is wrong to keep putting fixes on truly old buildings. It is wrong to pour so many capital dollars into our worst buildings like Meany.
  • BEX IV is looking like it might just be more of a jockeying for position than ever before. If your school is in a bad way, you might want to continue lobbying for a renovation. They should be able to get more buildings done because (1) they are done with high schools and (2) they are saying they will start using 2-3 blueprints for middle and elementaries to cut costs (finally).
Meany is one of our worst buildings and should be on the BEX IV list. But no, we are going to pour millions of BTA III "fixes" into a rundown building. The City is supposed to put in a health center there for Nova and SBOC and they should...when Meany is rebuilt. But will Meany make the BEX IV list? Nope but we'll continue to pour money into propping it up. Same with Montlake.

I have no idea what might make anyone sit up and take notice but maybe it will take an earthquake. But it is now starting to border on the ridiculous.

4 comments:

Jet City mom said...

Now look, I get that some of these buildings are old but they go to this excuse a lot. (In fact, they tried to excuse a huge cost overrun on Cleveland by saying they didn't know there was bedrock under the building. They seriously tried to say there was no way of knowing what kind of soil, rock,etc. was under the building AND didn't bother to look back to the '70s when part of the old building was replaced and they found...bedrock.

I agree- we also have county/city geological surveys that are accessible online.
If those that are in charge of money/building are not experienced enough to make use of resources that are free & available- well- I can give them a list of people who would gladly do their work for them.


geomapnw.ess.washington.edu/
The Pacific Northwest Center for Geologic Mapping Studies (GeoMapNW) is a collaborative effort to develop new data and greater understanding of the geology of the central Puget Lowland.
The Center began as the Seattle-Area Geologic Mapping Project IN 1998 through collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Washington, and the City of Seattle to provide state-of-the-art geologic data to support geologic hazard mitigation in the City.

Since that beginning, it has grown to include other geographic areas and a broadened range of research topics.
The project goals are to acquire existing geologic data and create new geologic information; to conduct geologic research and produce new geologic maps; and to support the wide variety of additional research, hazard assessments, and land-use applications of others throughout the region.

Bruce Taylor said...

I have no idea what might make anyone sit up and take notice but maybe it will take an earthquake. But it is now starting to border on the ridiculous.

Eight members of our family live in Christchurch, New Zealand. Their homes are badly damaged, and they won't have power, water or sewer for days/weeks/month.

But at least their children weren't among those killed in the CTV building collapse.

If you'd like to imagine what an earthquake in Seattle could sound like, listen to the live audio stream of Radio New Zealand. It is fascinating and horrifying.

Tech said...

Your comments on HVAC are well taken. The District continues to re-invent the wheel at every new school.

Remember Roosevelt? The re engineered the hvac plan three times to try and save money somewhere. They ended up spending more on this engineering work than they would have if they just went with the original hvac plan (heat pumps).

Hale with have no less than eight (8!!) different ways to heat classrooms. I'm not kidding. Heat Pumps, steam, hot water, univent, fan coils... Ridiculous.

And Building Automation? Since they switched to Johnson Controls it's been nothing but problems. Again, remember the problems with Roosevelt?

At this point in BEX these buildings should be turn key.

Anonymous said...

The capacity management report/documents are now linked online, under District News and Announcements (front page of new website) http://district.seattleschools.org/

Kim