SLV School District Perspectives
Recall Intent Notice Analysis, page 2
Failed to appropriately spend Measure-S Funds by selecting a school slated to consume $3,591.950.00 in Bond Funds over a school needing $0 funds.
This, I think, may be the core issue at the heart the recall campaign. Why was it decided to keep Boulder Creek Elementary School open and close Redwood Elementary School, when the former is slated for renovation and the latter is not? This is an important question, and a proper answer requires an analysis of the whole school closure process. I intend to address this more fully in a separate article, but here I offer a few observations, specifically about the financial analysis underlying this charge.
(Note: The following comments are separate from my personal feelings about the decision. Personally, I would have been happy to see Redwood stay open. Here, I'm trying to stick to the facts, and to the pertinent reasoning of school board members.)
1) About a third of the amount above is slated for a large library/multimedia center. Neither of the Boulder Creek school buildings currently have such a facility. This has been discussed at many school board meetings. If the recall proponents had a beef about using over a million dollars in bond funds for a library, why didn't they say so, at least in a school board meeting? Lumping this amount in with the BCE renovation money misrepresents the facts, making the cost appear significantly greater than it really is.
2) The above charge presupposes that if Redwood had been left open, the BCE building would have been left to rot. This would not be the case for a number of reasons:
a) Protection of Investment - We would need to at the very least maintain our assets.
b) Future Need (as a school) -We hope that the closed schools will reopen in the future. At the very least, the bond money should be put aside for this purpose.
c) Future Need (to generate income) - In the meantime, the district plans to use the unused school buildings for other purposes, to bring more money into the district. This likely would involve some upgrading up front, especially in the case of BCE.
So some amount of upgrading would probably have to happen anyway
3) The amount of bond money Redwood would have required was not zero, as stated in the notice. - To begin with, $200,000 was slated for construction of a covered walkway at Redwood. Furthermore, if BCE were closed, additional funds would have been required to make the upper field at Redwood accessible via a ramp or other solution in accordance with ADA code (cost not determined, but probably at least another $200,000). Also, more portable classrooms would have been needed at Redwood.
4) The District will get $800,000 in matching funds from the State by keeping BCE open, further decreasing the amount the district will have to spend, and further narrowing the financial gap between the two choices.
5) School Board Members heard from constituents who felt that the vote in favor of the bond money sent a clear message that BCE and the other buildings should be renovated. Some trustees felt that refusing to renovate the building would amount to ignoring the voters' intent.
There are many other reasons why BCE was chosen over Redwood (some I agree with, others I don't), but these are the ones I'm aware of that relate directly to the bond money issue. Reasonable people can disagree with the ultimate decision, but let's at least correct the misstatements in the recall notice. We can then recognize that the real question here is not whether the board wasted $3.5 million (they obviously did not) but whether giving substantial weight to non-financial factors in making their decision was so egregiously irresponsible that they should be immediately recalled. See other factors which were important in the decision.