District seeks more money than is needed | Letters | Oct. 23
October 23, 2009 · 11:14 AM
The capital bond cost of $32 million to replace Wilkes Elementary would still make the relatively small kindergarden-through-fourth grade school the most expensive elementary school in the state. The eight newest, architect designed, green-built elementary schools in the Seattle area have averaged just under $17.5 million for construction.
And for the last 18 months, OSPI confirms that cost per square foot of new schools have declined approximately $50 a square foot. If built in 2011, Wilkes would likely bid between $16 million and $18 million.
Soft costs should add about 35 percent to construction costs. The BISD bond soft costs are 59 percent ... that’s the real bloat.
If you want the math ... it’s easy. The bond has school construction at $20.2 million, and soft costs are $12 million. That’s an outrageous 59 percent And that doesn’t count any Wilkes earmarked monies left over from the 2006 bond (17 more years to pay that bond off).
Ask the school board for the cost breakdown. You won’t see it in district mailing literature ... and their meetings to “confirm” the cost numbers were not opened to the public. Can anyone imagine the city asking for a $42 million construction bond that had been turned down once and not holding a dedicated, open public information meeting where the public could actually ask questions and get factual answers?
I strongly support good schools, but I also want a school district with the highest integrity and reasonable transparency.
The district could have adjusted the bond number to what is more realistic based on other schools being built in the Seattle area, but they failed.
That means, if it passes, residential and commercial taxpayers will be paying off the bond excesses over the next 20 years.
So, disappointingly, another no vote, and major disappointment with an otherwise good school district because they are obviously asking for more money than what they know Wilkes is going to cost to replace.