Saturday, May 21, 2011

Buildings & Grounds Stealth Tactics Impact Royal Oaks, Tarnish District Image

Monday's (May 16) special FTT Committee meeting began with a tour of Royal Oaks to review the plans to construct a secure entrance and relocate the main office.  We learned much more than that.

Basketballs at Royal Oaks do what this tennis ball does

We learned that despite the Royal Oaks gym floor is in such sad shape that in several areas, if one dribbles a basketball it does not come back. It simply drops like a stone.  That's great for home team advantage during basketball games, but...come on!  How can it be that this gym has not appeared on the B&G summer maintenance report for any of the past 3 years?  These dead drop situations do not magically occur overnight.  We did hear that the stealth plan was to bury the cost of fixing the gum floor within the $350,000 cost of constructing the secure entrance.  Of course that was yet another stealth mission.  The "project" had been labeled "Royal Oaks Secure Entryway".  Only after much pressing and questioning of the price tag did we learn that  --"Oh yeah...we also plan to switch the office with the art room and do a couple of other changes".

You know what?  Moving the office DOES make sense.  But seriously...when one "hides" these things under an innocuous label it only breeds distrust.  What's more infuriating --regardless of true intent-- is the PERCEPTION that someone or someones are playing the shuffle game with cash.  The district has frequently come under fire for having too much pork in its budget.  How does this NOT look like proof of that allegation?  The community needs to trust that the district is coming forward with a legitimate budget and is accurately describing the work that will be performed under that budget.

Where did my $160,000 go?
If one reviews the B&G budget ONLY for summer maintenance over the past 3 years, it appears that by June  2012, we will have spent $160,000 to... 
---replace 2 Bradley sinks, 
---refinish wood gym floors (3 times), 
---gym repairs at WS,NS, ES (3 times) 
---replace bathroom partitions at PVMS, PMMS, and BD (3 times) 
Come on!  Really?  $160,000 for that? 
And if the jobs did not get done before, where did the money for that was budgeted for those tasks? 
And if the jobs WERE completed, then why are we budgeting for them in future years? 

What Royal Oaks Also Needs That Doesn't Appear to Be Critical
We also saw firsthand that, for a district that provides itself as a technology leader, the Royal Oaks "pit" (auditorium) relies on a bunch of wires and a mobile plastic cart holding a PowerPoint projector.  Really? 

We are building schools that have a Smartboard and projector in every room and we don't have a ceiling-mounted projector in the main congregation room? Come on!  Someone needs to pull some more fluff out of this budget and make that happen.  There MUST be room in the technology budget.

Kitchen needs
We were told that the serving carts need to be replaced.  Not on the radar screen.  Really?  According to the budget documents we were shown at the annual meeting last October, as of THIS June 30, we will have over $535,000 in fund balance in the Food Service fund.  Time to open up that checkbook, let the poor presidents squint as they face the light of day, and replace that equipment!