Last night, I had the pleasure once again to speak at the FHSD Board Meeting, to express concerns regarding Prop S.
The following is what I said with links to detailed information.
PROP S COMMENTS
“Today I hope to bring some additional transparency to the subject of Prop S.
On June 2nd the new Facilities Committee kicked of its inaugural meeting.
The key tenants of the committee’s purpose:
- Monitor facility projects and budget.
- Prioritize Projects.
- Disseminate information to the community.
- Consult and Guide the Facilities Department.
- Stay Student Focused and Department Friendly.
Out of the 19 members there was one board member and only 4 community members.
Prior to start of this meeting, the committee was told of the ‘norms’ to abide by. Items such as Students First, Maintain Equity, Inclusion over division, Positive Department Image, and having a United Front.
On June 29th, the committee met again, with three board members attending, as well as the Prop S project manager, who reported on the inflationary impacts to construction. Discussion centered around costs already having averaged a 20% increase and working with our consultants to manage priority, but concern was raised about abandoning projects already prioritized.
None of these board members voiced unease during any proceeding board meeting, even when voting on bid packages 3 & 4.
The committee met again, 2 ½ months later, on Sept 15th.
During this meeting the committee discussed the unknown cost of Howell North and if other Prop S work should be paused – – the committee agreed to keep moving forward, while acknowledging the lack of funding.
On Nov. 17th a week before the special board meeting the group reviewed their agreed upon priority scores.
Unfortunately, these scores are improperly designed, as different projects are judged based on different categories and numerous categories appear to have nothing to do with prudent facility and fiscal management decisions, such as: School District Equity, Want or Desire.
What may be worse is the unrelated categories being used for rating. As an example, the FH Wrestling Room Addition, obtained it’s highest scores based on its Educational Impact and Efficiency.
I do agree that sports and corresponding facilities are important, but in no way do I see these items as an efficient use of district finances.
Proceeding on wrestling rooms, field additions, a Tennis Court Replacement, and bus garage over Elementary Expansion, shows a strong disregard for the taxpayer, student learning, and elementary teachers. We know the population is expanding and having spaces for these students seems like it should be a higher priority than sports facilities.
We don’t know if funds will be available in the future, and should pause current priorities, as this decision-making process is examined.
Prudence should dictate the path forward, not hope for a new bond issue.
What I left out for time is that on Oct. 20th the Facilities Committee also meet, and agreed the Rubric (Priority Scores) methodology didn’t make sense and it appears the the scores from Nov. 17th were done on an update system better than what they were previously utilizing.
OTHER ITEMS FROM THE FHSD BOARD MEETING
- I would like to give a big shout out to the great work they are doing in early childhood development — the work with young autistic spectrum students was inspiring and critical work at a young age to be completed.
- A teacher spoke on the stress levels that are being felt from a number of issues — looking for additional commentary on this in a future post, but I’m in agreement with what was said.
- There was a presentation on GAAP auditing in general, and specifically with regard to government Covid Funds — I understand following the need regarding government Covid Funds, but since converting our accounting to GAAP is not a requirement in general I’m not sure why we spend time and money to do this.
- Updated Mask guidelines to be optional after Dec. 22nd. I can appreciate wanting to give more time for those wanting their children vaccinated to do so.
- Howell North was approved 6-1 with no amendments, even after the majority of the board acknowledged the process was not transparent to them and mistakes were made. Mr. Supple also acknowledge that the $164M Guaranteed Max Price, really isn’t a guarantee as their are multiple addendums that could cause it to rise. The Board asked for discussion of a 3rd party review in January. I’m not sure what good a review does after the FHN package 5 has been approved, and any additional Prop S work then has another month to move forward.
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