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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Last BEX Update for the School Year

Lots of interesting information from this meeting of the BEX Oversight Committee on June 10th.

Highlights:
  • They still don't have the Committee Charge draft to open up applications for this Committee.  They really need new members as their numbers have been dwindling.  At some point this will be sent to the Operations Committee who will forward it onto the full Board for approval.  I'm thinking the earliest that information will be available will be sometime in August.  I am hoping that if you know someone who might like to serve, that you will forward the information to them.  We need more community members who know the district on the Committee.   The Committee, as constituted, as good input from construction professionals but they also need community to balance it out.  Asking this Committee to provide accountability when the only information they get is from staff is not plausible.  Barbara Kelley, an SPS parent, had a good idea about parents who know the district AND have served on building renovation teams being ideal for the Committee.
  • South Shore reflooring cost $476k and seems to be working out well.
  • Hale - their greenhouse is closed out but there may be a construction claim against the district.  Currently, the work is on budget but this might send it slightly over budget.  There was some small discussion, both here and at a Board meeting, about a Master Use permit for their new readerboard as they had wanted to put advertising on it (which is against Board policy).  
  • Ingraham - really moving ahead on this project which is really two projects.  One is the new addition and the other are various smaller projects all around the school.  The addition won't be ready until late October.  The 13 portables are gone (but they were old and not reusable).  They still have 5 portables there but they, too, will leave when the project is done.  They are there for the Special Ed program but have been moved to the basketball courts for the summer.  (Neighbors will be notified of this inconvenience.)  They continue to protect the remaining trees around the site.
  • Denny/Sealth - Nearly complete.  Denny will be fully functional by July 5th.  There will be two long bus drop-offs with room for 11 buses so as to not back up the traffic on the street.
  • The interim Capital Director, Doug Nichols, handed out a balance sheet for the program.  The Committee was very happy to see this (as was I) because this has not been the format previously used.  It looks like Hamilton, Hale, Denny and South Shore will likely come in under budget.  This is great news and may mean better management of capital dollars.  There was a notation for $42M spent on Technology.  I sure would like to see a detailed accounting of those dollars.
  • Still on the hook, though, for numerous Garfield claims.   Right know it is at nearly $3M plus change orders on the building of nearly $4M.   I really feel that the public has a right to see a timeline and budget timeline of what happened.  There is always a lot of mumbling about building at the height of the construction market but that alone cannot explained away the high price tag of this building.  I finally got to see Garfield (but not the performing arts hall).  My opinion is that from the outside, it is just dazzling.   However, I was really surprised at how narrow and dark the hallways are.  I'm not sure I get it as Roosevelt's hallways seem the same size but with a lot more light.
  • Kay Smith-Blum referenced reopening Fairmount Park so I think it's a go if they can find the money.  However, Chair Ed Peters made an excellent point that the taxpayers okayed the money for these projects (bonds are somewhat different than levies in this way) and does it need a formal Board approval.  Has the district discharged its obligations under the bond measure?  First, yes, if we are reopening a school, the Board needs to be involved in the formal approval to reopen AND spending money on it.  Two,  no, the district has NOT discharged its formal obligations has it has consistently given SBOC the shaft on the promise of about $10-11M to modestly upgrade Meany.  (Meany has had work done under BTA funds but SBOC was on BEX for renovations/upgrades.)  Any saved funds, any money should go to SBOC but I'm sure it won't.  There are too few of us - and I don't mean myself but real SBOC activists - advocating for this community.
  • There was also an excellent point made about documenting projects built under BEX.  The Committee members wanted just a couple of lines but there is no reason why a timeline (both for actual time and money) to be kept along with notations of reasons for changes, community input, etc.  It was noted there were no formal overviews of other BEXs.
  • The Committee had to adjourn early as Director Smith-Blum had to leave early.   One mystery is where is Don Gilmore?  Mr. Gilmore has had various roles in BEX (I'm not even sure what his title is now and the SPS search function is broken) but I haven't seen him in months at any meetings. 

4 comments:

wsnorth said...

Fairmount Park needs to be reopened ASAP as an option school. Montessori, Language immersion, or both.

Melissa Westbrook said...

It takes time to get that kind of program together. If the district need a new school, they can probably just get it together enough to open the building and maybe some program will come after that.

As Viewlands, Sandpoint or Rainier View; I'm sure they would have liked a program attached to their reopened buildings as well.

wave said...

I had the exact same reaction to Garfield vs. Roosevelt when I saw it (I went to RHS and my wife went to GHS, so we attended both of the grand re-opening shindigs). The hallways at Garfield seem narrow and dark. I think the ceilings are lower, but that could just be my imagination.

SP said...

wsnorth said...
"Fairmount Park needs to be reopened ASAP as an option school. Montessori, Language immersion, or both."

WSNorth- Caution with that wish about language immersion- In Board work sessions and on powerpoints, the district has a goal of 2 elementary immersion school "paths" for each middle school. Denny has only one so far- Concorde.

Fairmount as a language immersion option school might ease the overcrowding pressure for north end WS elementary schools, but it would lead to more overcrowding in Denny/Sealth (already with waitlists) and further undermine the artificial underenrollment issues that the Board and the District themselves have created in Madison/WSHS.

Fairmount as an option school (whatever the focus) must feed into Madison/WSHS or it will create more potential problems for the long term for all West Seattle students.