Smaller maintenance projects form big part of school bond
March 20, 2012
By Tom Corrigan
As voters get closer to deciding whether to OK a $219 million bond issue to benefit the Issaquah School District, big projects such as the rebuilding of the so-called corridor schools are getting plenty of attention.
The corridor schools are Issaquah Middle, Clark Elementary and Tiger Mountain High schools, all which will end up largely rebuilt and in new locations if the bond sale is approved.
Still, a significant portion of the proceeds from the bond sale would go toward more seemingly mundane items, such as rebuilding playfields and replacing fire alarm panels. The proposed project list includes dozens of maintenance and upkeep items at schools around the district.
“We have an obligation to protect roughly $1.2 billion in assets,” Jake Kuper, district chief of finances and operations, said referring to the estimated value of the district’s 28 total buildings, including 24 schools.
One idea behind the maintenance portion of the bond plan is the argument that it will be much cheaper to fix problems now rather than down the road, when those problems only will have grown bigger.
“I think this is something everybody can understand,” Lesley Austin, one of two co-chairwomen of the committee promoting the bond, said.
For example, homeowners know that if a roof leaks, you need to fix that leak or the problem is likely to get worse, the repair bill more expensive, she said.
“From a systemwide perspective,” Kuper said, “continued maintenance of our community assets saves the taxpayers money in the long run, as neglected maintenance cycles can result in larger system failures and costs in the future.”
Like Austin, Kuper said a slightly leaking roof, if neglected, can lead to much bigger problems in the future. He said porous roofs even can lead to water damage and the need for the repair or renovation of other parts of the building.
On the Web
Find the complete list of the capital improvement projects proposed by the school district at www.issaquah.wednet.edu. Click on “April 2012 bond.”
Officials talked about boilers failing at schools around the district. One recent boiler project cost the schools about $500,000, said Sara Niegowski, district director of communications. With tight budgets, the more dollars spent on maintenance-related work means fewer dollars spent directly on classrooms and education.
Several district officials noted school buildings get an incredible amount of use and take a huge amount of punishment. The cabinets in a school get as much use and take as much abuse in a year as your home cabinets experience in about 10 years, Ron Thiele, associate superintendent, said.
In addition to playfields and fire alarm panels, there are numerous other maintenance projects listed in the bond package.
At Beaver Lake Middle School, plans call for upgrading the clock system in classrooms at a price of $75,000. Bond passage also would mean replacement of flooring in the school’s commons for an additional $75,000. Finally, plans call for replacing the vinyl wall covering and wainscoting in school corridors and adding a “tackable” surface in those same corridors.
At Endeavour Elementary School, a roof would be replaced, along with some repairs being done to skylighting at a cost of $525,000. Some flooring would be replaced in corridors and the school’s commons. New carpeting would be placed in classrooms and offices. Endeavour also would see some realignment of its administrative offices in order to give officials a better view of the school’s entrance. Total cost of the Endeavour projects is $830,000.
Overall, approximately 16 schools would receive maintenance attention if voters approve the bond sale. That number does not include schools that would be rebuilt or be receiving major space additions.
Besides the maintenance projects at individual schools, the bond plan calls for numerous districtwide repairs or projects. Remodeling as needed to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act would run $850,000. The district hopes to spend $2.1 million on installing electronic locks and card key access systems at all buildings. An additional $2.6 million would be used for placing closed-circuit security cameras at all sites.
The bond project list places project management fees and pools of money, such as a construction reserve fund, under the heading of districtwide projects. Subtracting those dollars, districtwide work would account for about $9.3 million of the total bond package. The list also includes $440,000 to replace single-glazed windows and remode office areas at the administration building. Finally, the district’s transportation center would get $2.1 million in attention. Regrading and paving certain areas would account for $775,000 of that total. A new access road would cost an additional $1.3 million.