Clark Davidson: $31M bond is not the answer
May 17, 2017
CC4E's thoughtful presentation to the school board was followed up by a workshop on Monday. During the discussion, several CC4E members confirmed that the end was "rushed."
I don't want to criticize a group of volunteers that felt the pressure of a deadline. But, the community and the school board should consider some other alternatives.
The $31 million bond proposed about 60 percent for deferred maintenance and only 40 percent for new square footage, almost entirely at the high school. This raises a couple of concerns.
CC4E presented the number one problem as overcapacity at the elementary and middle school levels; yet the current proposal doesn't address this overcapacity at either the elementary or middle school levels.
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Addressing deferred maintenance in a bond poses two issues: first, it's not a long-term solution for maintenance; and second, it proposes a long-term payment schedule for maintenance. Not an ideal solution.
To me, the threshold question is whether or not we can address a 20-plus-year solution right now. I think that answer is, "no." However, anything we do right now shouldn't prevent our future options.
Why not make the modulars at Soda Creek a permanent structure? This school is going to be an elementary for the next 50-plus years. Will we ever be sad to have the extra space? Of course not. In low enrollment periods, it increases programming opportunities, in high enrollment periods, it gives the extra space we need. For this, a $2.5 million cost was presented by the district.
Why not add square footage onto the middle school? Under any future scenario, that building will be used as a school. Similar to Soda Creek, when are you going to be sad to have the extra square footage for programming or for times of overcrowding? For this, a $6.5 million cost was presented by the district.
Additionally, if Montessori closes or we experience another growth spurt, we are going to desperately need that space at both locations, so, we're hedging our position wisely with these two investments.
Question whether or not adding $10 million of square feet to the high school is a wise investment at this time. The problem identified by CC4E was a need for facilities upgrades at the high school, not more square footage. There may be cost savings in there if you work within the boundaries of the current footprint to provide the needed improvements.
The last issue to address is the deferred maintenance. Following the Summit County model of regular three year mill levy overrides to pay for maintenance seems like a really wise long-term solution. Does it mean that we can't do as much at once and catching up will take a few more years? Yes. However, it's a long-term solution that promotes communication and transparency — an issue that CC4E raised.
I don't know what the best option is, but I don't think we should pass a $31 million bond and not address the problems identified.
Former member of CC4E