Check out the just-released 2017 Humble ISD Facilities Assessment. This will become the basis for any future bond referendum. PBK created this 518-page document; it was 19 months in the making. See what they recommend for your school and elsewhere in the District.
Read with Priorities in Mind
If you read the report closely, you will see that everything is assigned a priority. Level One is the highest priority. Level One items are mission critical. They include, for instance, safety related items. Then you have Levels 2, 3 and 4 with several subdivisions within those.
Projected Costs for Future Bonds
During the presentation at this week’s board meeting on Tuesday night, PBK demonstrated an interactive spreadsheet which they were delivering with the report. It enabled people to play “what if” by clicking on rows and columns to select or deselect them. All totals were recalculated in real time.
The strange thing about the presentation, though, was that the PBK presenter said (literally) 12 different times “if the Board chooses to have a bond referendum…” Obviously, there are some sensitivities on that issue; I made it an issue during the election.
Timing for Bond Referendum
The earliest window for a bond referendum would be next May. The next window would be November, 2018. Notice the inflation rate (8% annually) built into all the cost projections. The last time we saw inflation like that was after the OPEC oil embargoes in the late 1970s. It’s possible that they’re projecting that much inflation as a cushion or safety factor. It’s also possible that they’re projecting that much inflation to add a sense of urgency to the construction (which benefits PBK).
Gobstruck by Costs
I am just gobstruck by some of these costs…more than a billion dollars for major projects plus priority one and two items…$9 million to renovate Turner stadium which was just renovated…$50 million for a natatorium to hold a swim meet. On the face of it, this is a retirement plan for every contractor within 50 miles! But we should keep in mind that this is also a wish list to be debated.
We should also keep in mind three other things. First, some of these costs are alternatives to each other. Do you want to pay, for instance, increased repair costs or just replace an aging facility. Second, documents like this typically throw bones to everyone to get them to vote for new bonds. Then, as we’ve seen before, somehow a lot of the projects are forgotten as time goes by. Third, NONE of these items includes interest on bonds. During the life of the bond, that could double or triple the costs you see in this study.
Shaping Expectations for a Bond Referendum
One of the national trends in bond elections is to narrow their scope. Instead of creating billion-dollar construction funds to cover every potential item under the sun (and then not doing half of them), many districts are issuing bonds for the construction of individual projects. That way people know exactly what they’re voting for. It takes some flexibility away from administrators, but also increases accountability and demands more transparency.