Tuesday, May 22, 2012

School Board approves interim construction financing for STEM, Redmond and Eastlake High Schools

Aerial update of STEM Project Site (April, 2012)
UPDATED:  The School board meeting this Monday was better attended by bond salesmen than citizens, as the board held a Hearing to approve two capital bond transactions, keeping STEM, Redmond High, and Eastlake High construction at running at full throttle.

One of the transactions, a $34 million LGO Bond sale, raised cash to cover short-term construction needs until the voter-approved "2012-2017 $65 million Capital Levy" dollars can catch up. The second board action raised $25 million from an aging  "2006 Eight-Year $436 million Capital Bond."  According to Barb Posthumus, district Business Services Manager,  a balance of $11 million remains of the original $436 million Bond.  

LGO's are "Limited Government Obligation" bonds and are non-voter approved.  Read More >>
Superintendent Kimball described it as a stop-gap, construction bridge loan that will eventually be paid back through the existent, 2012 - 2017 Six-Year Capital Levy. When Director Chris Carlson asked for recourse, Kimball answered without the Board's LGO approval "I.C.S. would be delayed 2-3 years." (Remodernization of International Community School (ICS), STEM, RHS, EHS, and the remaining 6-Year Capital Levy projects are managed by HEERY).

Kimball said we committed "to build fast and hard…(and did the same thing with 2006 Bond-funded modernization programs) because of the favorable construction market. For example, said Kimball, at Lake Washington High School we saved $10 million by timing our construction with a favorable bidding climate."  He cited $10's of millions of dollar savings by accelerating construction and several millions savings from the levy and refinanced debt.

School Board Director Siri Bleisner asked Kimball for a summary of projected savings and costs associated with his presentation, stating the Notice and deliberations were short and her constituents may have questions. Bleisner took office early this year. 

President Jackie Pendergrass said, "We’ve not had one of these LGO's since I've been on the Board." (17 years). She recommended emphasis on the savings and to post district website updates. 

Kimball blamed this predicament "on us", saying: "The reason why this happened is because we failed the bond measure in 2010. If we had not failed that bond measure we would not be faced with this situation. This was an emergency situation, to deal with a significant overcrowding problem, and we could be faced with this again if we don't pass a bond measure in 2014," referring to the rising elementary populations in Redmond Ridge and the Einstein area. 

Underlying the financial gyrations are two State Auditing Office (SAO) audits, delivered to the Kimball Administration on March 9, 2012, signed by Brian Sontag, State Auditor and released to the public May 21. (See NOTES).  How deep is the hole?  I've filed with the state for district accountability updates.  Comments are welcome.

Stay tuned. 

Bob Yoder

http://www.lwsd.org/About/School-Board/Board-Meetings/Pages/Board-Meeting-Video.aspx  Video-tape of May 21 School Board meeting - skip to construction Bond discussions and approvals

http://www.sao.wa.gov/AuditReports/AuditReportFiles/ar1007756.pdf  SAO Accountability Audit, 3/9/12, includes "certain matters" deserving attention.

http://www.sao.wa.gov/AuditReports/AuditReportFiles/ar1007743.pdf   "Financial Highlights" for fiscal year ending August 31, 2011, on page 10 of the SAO Performance Audit.

Google image:  LWSD construction website source
The 2012-2017 Six-Year capital Facility Plan draft is available by request to kreith@lwsd.org


Anonymous said...

LWSD seems be be holding the taxpayer hostage by refusing to redistrict some of Rosa Parks' 780 students (230 students OVER BUILDING capacity) to Wilder (450 students). This is payback for failing to pass the 2010 bond. LWSD will keep Rosa Parks at 725+ students as Wilder falls to 300 as their guilt trip to pass the next bond to build two elementary schools in north Redmond.
Why doesn't Chip and Co. reboundry Rosa Parks now to alleviate a significant overcrowding problem which could then negate the need for two costly elementary schools in 2014?

Bob Yoder said...

I know Siri and some PTA friends read Redmond blog but I'll pass this onto Traci while they're still openly and actively "in business".

I also think they should "re-district" the STEM school to make it practical for all (teachers, students, parents, school resources.) Recommend they convert the County-based STEM school to a Middle School to adjust for elementary over-crowding and mitigate cannibalization of science teachers from Juanita and RHS. Re-route busing: to send some of the Einstein El students to the "County Middle School." and merge with Alcott.

Beef up LWHS Stem program with real teachers to make it a true STEM school, not one with "lots of notebooks." (and few books/lockers - a forced use approach that could turn off students).

Keep Mike Town at the geographic center of the district as a STEM curriculum facilitator. Don't waste his time by busing him to the County. He'd probably bike anyway, in protest.

[I'll send our comments to the School Board and Sup. Pierce, too.]

Thanks for sparking comment and I hope others join in. The Pierce needs to do something abut STEM and El overcrowding now, not sit on their hands all summer.