Letters to the Editor

Review of bond issue reveals need remains | Letters | Oct. 30

There have been questions about the $42 million cost of the proposed school bond issue on the November ballot.

These are important questions and the community needs to know that a tremendous amount of work has again gone into reviewing both the assumptions and cost estimates for the replacement of Wilkes Elementary and the other projects included in the bond.

I had the privilege of acting as the moderator for the Bainbridge Island School District “Construction Review Panel.”

This group was made up of building industry professionals such as construction-cost estimators, architects, engineers, project managers, builders and other interested members of the community.

Our task was to critique the work that had been done by the district and its consultants during a review of the original assumptions and cost estimates included in the May bond issue.

The conversation was an in-depth review of every aspect of the bond, its potential costs, as well as a review of the costs of similar projects around the state. The panel had the opportunity to question all of the experts involved in the Review.

The wealth of experience represented on this panel lead to great questions and a full discussion of the issues.

In my opinion the results of this review confirmed several things:

Based on the work of two nationally recognized cost estimating firms, the estimates of $42 million are valid.

Representatives from three leading architectural firms that specialize in school design agree that the design assumptions made for the replacement of Wilkes will result in state of the art learning space and will be safer for children and parents.

It is also the most cost effective approach to constructing a building that will last at least 50 years while being efficient to operate and maintain.

We could build a cheaper building but it won’t function as well, be as efficient to operate or last as long.

The projected cost of the Wilkes replacement is comparable to other similar schools constructed around the state.

The $10 million of other projects included in the bond represent the critical top 25 percent of projects identified as necessary to preserve and repair other school facilities; things such as repair and replacement of failing roofs, heating, electrical and plumbing systems.

Now is the time for us to move forward with these critical projects. Bargains may still be available but they will not be there for long.

I have spent over 30 years in public service, many of those directly involved in major capital projects.

Based on that experience, for the reasons listed above and more, I encourage islanders to vote yes for the Bainbridge Island school bond issue on Nov. 3.

Rick C. Walsh

Arrow Point Drive

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