Monday, February 07, 2005

DeJong's Facilities Contract Contradicts Legislators' "Spin"

by Debbie Pelley
Legislators that promoted the facilities study and facilities law are backpedaling at high speed as they are faced with the blunders, errors, and criticism in the facilities assessment. After hearing these legislators’ spin, it is time to compare their words to the specific facts recorded in the contract signed with DeJong for the facilities assessment. Examining the specifics in the contract should make anyone understand why the superintendents have taken this report as deadly serious and how they have interpreted the significance of it far more accurately than have some of the “spinning legislators”. ....for specific examples of what the contract says vs. what some legislators claimed about it, click "comments"

2 Comments:

Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

(continued from front page)

The State of Arkansas Professional/Consultant Services Contract signed by DeJong says under # 6, p. 2. “State description of services, objectives, and scope to be provided” (See how to obtain contract at end of e-mail.)

*Determine a cost to make all K-12 public educational facilities substantially equal and adequate based on criteria supplied by the Task Force of the Joint Committee on Educational Facilities.

*Determine the time frame required to perform all design and construction work required to make all K-12 public educational facilities substantially equal and adequate.

*Determine an annual program and estimated cost for maintaining facilities adequacy for all K-12 public educational facilities.

The contract says DeJong & Associates will “submit findings and recommendation in draft format to the Joint Committee on Educational Facilities on or before October 31, 2004. Final presentation is due November 30, 2004.” So the final figures should be in.


How close do these specifics in the contract align with the spin? Senator Broadway, Chair of the Facilities Committee, is quoted as saying, “the report should be taken as an inventory but not an absolute list of required improvements.”

Mike Masterson reports on one account “which said the DeJong and Associates assessment report was only intended to be a foundation to facilitate discussion about the changes that will actually be required. Supposedly, the report was compiled to ignite discussion of potential costs and provide a valuable data collection that describes every Arkansas school building.”

Jodie Mahony is quoted as saying it would be up to the Legislature to decide which of the report's recommendations need to be addressed and that the facilities report is "nothing but an inventory of buildings and square foot space, and a suggestion of what it would cost to bring each of those buildings up to the building codes that are in effect right now." He said it would not be necessary to bring every existing building up to current code.

“[Senator] Argue said, however, that the $2.8 billion estimate for court-ordered improvements is likely to be significantly reduced. That's because the estimate is based on bringing all buildings to existing building codes. For many schools, it may not be necessary to meet such a high threshold.”

My first question to these experienced veteran legislators is: Which figure in the facilities assessment report is the “cost to make all K-12 public educational facilities substantially equal and adequate”? According to the contract that was one main figure to be ascertained by the almost $10 million study. So what is the cost? Legislators and the public still want to know. Is it the 2.5 billion which is already out of date because it was based on July, 04 prices, or is it the 4.5 billion five year projection, or some other figure?

Until that figure is determined, DeJong has not fulfilled his contract. After the presentation on the assessment report on Nov. 30 at the Legislative Facilities hearing, one senator asked, “What do I go home and tell the folks back home (meaning the cost figure).” He did not get a definitive answer – just spin.

The second question is, “What is the time frame required to perform all design and construction work required to make all K-12 public educational facilities substantially equal and adequate?” Where is that specific aspect of the contract covered in the facilities assessment report?

The third question is: Where in the assessment report is the “annual program and estimated cost for maintaining facilities adequacy for all K-12 public educational facilities.”?

Answers to the above three questions would take the spin out of the facilities report. Do these “spinning” legislators know what the assessment was about and what was in the contract or are they just trying to snooker the rest of us?

This contract doesn’t say the legislators will make these determinations. It says the facilities assessment will make this determination. That doesn’t mean the legislators have to accept it though – that is unless the court makes them. That is where the real deception comes in. The experts’ figure can be used to take back to court and get them to force the state to fund the facilities. The assessment can be used by some legislators as a powerful tool to get the legislature to fund it using the court as the hammer.

So some legislators will use spin or backpedal or whatever it takes to legitimize the assessment, knowing how valuable it is to them to accomplish their goals of government control. Hopefully, all the facilities assessment errors will be enough to make the assessment invalid in court.

Jodie Mahony, who has more seniority than any other legislator, summed up what the facilities study is really all about – government control. “ Mahony said that ‘absolutely’ the state will have the final say over what gets built and repaired. ‘The Supreme Court said we’re responsible,’ Mahony said. ‘We’re responsible to see that they’re built to meet the Supreme Court standard. Beyond that, we’re funding them. We’re going to have to make sure we’re spending our money wisely. And we’re going to have to come back after they build it to make sure they built it right.’" Mahony and his comrades seem to know more about all the schools’ needs in Arkansas than all the superintendents, school boards, and the community put together.

Senator Broadway said. ‘I had never been involved in a project of this magnitude and I hope to never again. And I emphasize the word ‘never.’" (Arkansas Democrat Gazette, January 25, 05 by Blomeley.) “Projects of magnitude” is what government control is all about. If Broadway thinks it was a ”project of magnitude” overseeing a $10 million dollar study, wait until he oversees the $2 to $5 billion project of the actual tearing down and rebuilding. If he is not going to oversee it, then who is? Arkansas stepped into a government control experiment when they passed the facilities law. According to an Inspector General’s report in Ohio, Ohio is one of seven states that have experimented with the state government controlling the school facilities. I guess Arkansas makes eight. West Virginia, which also experimented with controlling facilities, had a greater increase in per student spending than any other state in the nation in the last decade.

I, for one, appreciate the superintendents for their efforts in bringing some accuracy to the report and thereby protecting our children by protecting our educational money and the taxpayers’ pocketbook. Otherwise we could be like Ohio, which also has a facilities law, where 1140 schools out of 1211 are either being demolished or renovated at a price tag of $23.5 billion.

Debbie Pelley

dpelley@cox-internet.com

870-935-9438

8:20 PM, February 07, 2005  
Anonymous قناة الجزيرة بث مباشر said...

The State of Arkansas Professional/Consultant Services Contract signed by DeJong says under # 6, p. 2. “State description of services, objectives, and scope to be provided” (See how to obtain contract at end of e-mail.)

11:53 PM, March 06, 2011  

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