Thursday, January 27, 2005

School Facilities Report Full of Mistakes

By Debbie Pelley
http://www.wpaag.org

These are the errors I have run across, most of them reported in the paper. They are only summaries of main errors, not all errors. Note the first one (I have included no name because it has not been publicly reported.) I am sure we can count on the State Department or DeJong & Associates to publish a list of all the errors once they are finished!!!

With the exception of the extra football, baseball, soccer fields and tennis courts that our report had like most of the other reports, the only corrections I had to make in my meeting was their not giving our District credit for doing about six different repair/replacement projects (roofs, floor tile, and HVAC projects). [No big deal to this superintendent who defended the people working on the facilities report. I wonder if it would be different if his personal property had been assessed with that many mistakes and he had to fork out the money to make the repairs. Oh, but this is just taxpayers' money.]

Camden Fairveiw : -Forget about elevators for one-story structures. My favorite was the $18 million, air-conditioned barn recommended for the open-air classroom for agriculture education classes in the Camden Fairview School District. Journalist Moseley article.

Charleston: Over in Charleston, a beautiful, $6 million high school opened just last fall, but according to the "consultants," that campus needs $490,000 in repairs and additions to be up to their standards. The school has closed-circuit television throughout and a keypad security lock system, but it just wasn't secure enough. The consultants also felt the need to urge expenditures of $419 per room for dimming lights, $176 per room for telephones, $2,000 per room for additional writing surfaces (although every teacher was given every bulletin board and writing surface he or she requested). Then there were the recommendations to spend $109,000 to improve the football field and $135,000 for the existing baseball diamond. Moseley

To replace the 10 air conditioning units in the Charleston elementary school, the comic strip facility "consultants" from Planet 9 - or someplace else out in space - say the cost to replace each unit should be about $33,000 for a total estimated expense of $297,000. Interestingly, Charleston school officials checked with a local air-conditioning contractor and were told he would replace the units, which do no need replacing, for just $6,000 each. Moseley


...continued in Comments section

5 Comments:

Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

(continued from front page)

Fort Smith: The "consultants" said Fort Smith needs $1.9 million of critical Priority 1 repairs and updates to have really safe schools. Now, Fort Smith has a continuous program to update and repair its school buildings. Fairview Elementary School in Fort Smith received a new fire alarm system just two years ago, but the idiots from out of state say a new fire alarm system should Gooden complained that several things in the report were listed as being at the "end of life" and could fail within a year.

Gooden, with Fort Smith, wasn’t shy about voicing his objections with Fischer and other consultants during a meeting at the consultants’ temporary offices across from the state Capitol. Gooden even brought his district’s lawyer, Mitch Llewellyn. Gooden complained that several things in the report were listed as being at the "end of life" and could fail within a year. "I submit to you I will be at the [nursing] home before that happens," Gooden said. He said he’s worried that "the report is so discredited... that the Legislature will do nothing" and someone will sue the state again.

Gooden complained to the consultants that he sought more information about his assessment and the consultants told him that information "was proprietary." Blomeley in Arkansas Democrat Gazette article Jan. 27, 05

Benton: She [Diana Julian]said the facilities report didn’t take into account the $24 million worth of facilities work her district has undertaken, so the $16.8 million worth of work that the study said Benton needed isn’t accurate. Based on that and other problems she’s hearing about, she said she doubts the $2.3! billion figure is valid. Blomeley Jan 25, 05

Watson Chapel: Danny Knight, Watson Chapel superintendent, pointed to numerous costs the assessment cited that he said were wrong. ... For example, he said the study said it would cost $137,000 to replace 38 doors in one school when he had recently gotten an estimate to do the same thing for $28,000. Blomeley Jan 27, 05

Springdale: In the highly regarded Springdale School District, administrators have been told that a $50 water valve will cost them 10 times that much. Another school superintendent in eastern Arkansas says he could buy a mandated $399 light switch for a fraction of that.

Dr. Ronnie Bradshaw, Springdale’s assistant superintendent for special services, told me the assessment team the state retained to evaluate court-mandated facility improvements to Arkansas schools is inconsistent and out of touch with actual costs of the necessary improvements it is citing.

And the Arkansas taxpayer is being asked to foot the resulting bill for! all this gross overestimating, which could run about $2.4 billion.

As examples, Bradshaw said the Ohio-based assessment group told the Springdale district that it needed a back-flow prevention water valve that costs $4,889 and a new roof on a school that would cost $800,000.
"I know I can buy that valve for $50," he said, "and we put a new roof on a similar school for $200,000."

The study also called for Springdale to acquire a GFI breaker switch that costs $143. "I can buy that same switch for $18," said Bradshaw.

He cited numerous examples of discrepancies and glaring inconsistencies in the evaluations for Springdale that he’s reviewed. "They told us a new building still coming out of the ground already needed $200,000 in repairs. You should see our new schools. . . . I’d like to show them to the judge.

"In my opinion, if any school facility in Northwest Arkansas has real problems, then there is a question about the study. . . and no one in Arkansas can meet these standards. Those standards aren’t even passed yet. I hope the Legislature wakes up." Mike Masterson article ArkansasDemocrat Gazette, Jan 25, 05

Brookland: The Brookland superintendent, Gene Goza, told his school board members last week that he had discovered enormous inflation in the assessment conducted in his district. He said several fellow superintendents found similarly exorbitant cost estimates.

Goza said the 1,350-student Brookland district’s repair costs, according to the formal state assessment, were $3.6 million. But he provided a Jonesboro Sun reporter and me with evidence of how badly inflated! ed that figure appears to be.

For instance, Goza said, the assessment team claimed that Brookland’s classroom doors should have handles with push-button locks rather than the existing doorknobs. That means this district requires 110 new locks at an estimated cost of $439 apiece. Goza told me he found the same handles readily available for $75 each.

He said the official assessment said Brookland’s 107 classrooms need dimmer light switches installed for $399 each. Goza found the switches for $60 apiece. As with Bradshaw in Springdale, his maintenance staff could install them.

On another page, Goza saw that the assessment team had noted an additional $107,000 to replace fluorescent bulbs to accommodate the 107 dimmer switches—in other words, a hidden double charge just to dim class lights.

Bradshaw said he noticed similar double charging for one of his school’s hardwood floors. My calculations show a possible! savings of some $70,000 from doorknobs and dimmer switches just in the Brookland district.

"I’ll admit there are some repairs that need to be made, but this is ridiculous," Goza said. "If we are an indication, I’d say across the board you could probably cut the statewide facilities assessment of $2.4 billion in half."

He also said that the assessment team failed to accurately account for the square footage in his district’s various schools, thereby creating a badly erroneous picture of actual needs. Mike Masterson Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Jan. 25, 05

Green Forrest - My deficiencies listed included the lack of a football, soccer and baseball field for my K-3 and the same deficiencies at the 4-7 campus. Also the report indicated that the food service line in the athletic weight room didn't meet ADA standards. My weight room certainly doesn't have a food service line. The wooden floor in the field house needs
replacing but the floor is concrete.

Marshall: The study treats Witts Spring, which was consolidated with Marshall and shut down, as an occupied school and put all the costs of updating it onto Marshall's report?

Valley Springs - Replacement value for two barns at Valley Springs were $121, 051 and $120,974, enough to buy 2 barns and 2 farms to go with it in that area. Information about Valley Springs from "Grain of salt called for with facilities study “by Lavina Grandon in Save Our Schools End-of-life replacements of wood floors which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars which, of course, no one would spend. The same for ceiling tiles which are still perfectly good, and other such items. Build a football field for $104,000 when we don't even have football and don't intend to have.

Valley View - The study had listed that a fence needed replacing because it was at the end of life. We just put that fence in," Baker said. The study found that the district had insufficient parking (considered Priority II), as well as several parking areas that were at "end of life." Baker said a new parking lot was installed in 2004, and many of the parking surfaces in question have been repaved. Many of Priority II deficiencies concerned compliance with the American with Disabilities Act.

We have three brand new buildings that have been written up for non-compliance with ADA. Those standards changed only last year," Baker said. In addition, the study found insufficient play space (which includes the various sporting fields) to accommodate each school's student population. "Because of numbers, what they're telling us is that we need four soccer fields, four baseball fields, four football fields and three tennis facilities to accommodate the students [Valley View has less than 1500 students.] But what we do is share those facilities because we're on one campus. They didn't take that into consideration," Baker said. "The elementary building was built in 1989. They're saying everything there was built in 1989. The study had listed that a fence needed replacing because it was at the end of life. We just put that fence in," Baker said. A few other things were mentioned. He said committee members didn't take into consideration upgrades and replacements of certain items while conducting the study. Jonesboro Sun Jan 26, 05

Forrest City: The Forrest City superintendent said the assessment includes price estimates to fix two buildings that district doesn’t use, according to the Times-Herald in Forrest City. Blomeley 1-27

No Names
The house furnished the superintendent which is on campus therefore was evaluated was said to need 3 new exterior doors. The cost to replace these doors was quoted at $10,380.00. Home Depot or Lowe's doors will run about $400 - $500 each installed. I have local handymen lined up at the office door wanting to put in bids to replace these doors. But what bothers me most, these doors are fine. I can lock them at night, open them during the day and they weatherproof. I could use this money to do some roof repairs, which by the way were not even on my list. Go figure!!!!

A gymnasium floor has one floor but needs a $150,576 elevator at $150,576.

End-of-life replacements of wood floors which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars which, of course, no one would spend. The same for ceiling tiles which are still perfectly good, and other such items. Build a football field for $104,000 when we don't even have football and don't intend to have. And other such absurdities.

School was told at meeting with state department they would need to hire an architect to tell them specifics about ADA non-compliance. Out of $9 million the school found close to $3 1/2 million in errors. For example, they listed the gym floor as needing $83,594 worth of "minor" repairs. That same floor was listed as needing to be replaced for $83,605. It was listed twice and it only cost $11 more to replace it than to repair it. .

School was told they would need to spend $11,698 for "minor" repairs on some playground equipment they spent less than $2,000 on. $331,724 was on the report for baseball fields and football/soccer fields they said were required by some mythical standard. When the state department was asked where to find this standard, the school was told., “On line.”

This information can be found from home page of www.wpaag.org . Access from home page under new article or this link: http://www.wpaag.org/Facilities%20-%20Errors%20on%20Assessments.htm

Debbie Pelley
dpelley@cox-internet.com
check out this website:
www.wpaag.org

5:28 PM, January 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to Debbie Pelley for all the hard work she has put in to trying to get the message out about how much of a scam this facilities commission has been. It's an awful shame that the legislators allowed DeJong and Associates to keep a 9 million dollar contract after having been found guilty of ethics violations. Not to mention that there is no state standard defining quality standards of facilities.

What is worse....is that the report is so fraught with fraudulent claims that we should get our 9 million dollars back. The sad thing is that misrepresentation has become the leading form of representation.

Keep up the good work.

3:45 PM, February 09, 2005  
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