You will be told this budget season, as sure as you are reading this now, that Timberlane has $14 million dollars of deferred capital needs that keep getting pushed off. My experience last night should make you skeptical of this number.
Facilities tours were conducted tonight of Danville Elementary, Sandown North and Sandown Central. As I went from building to building I politely insisted on seeing all the facilities that were listed on the facilities project ‘wish list’ given to the Facilities Committee on September 8th. I wanted to see exactly what needed work based on what was given to the Facilities Committee.
I was heatedly accused of having the facilities list illicitly; nevertheless, I saw what I felt I needed to see. As it happens, the facilities project list distributed in September was exactly the same list provided to the Facilities Committee in May 2015, though, oddly, no one brought this up at the September meeting. The list had serious deficiencies.
It did not include a new playground for Sandown North
It did not include a sprinkler system for Danville Elementary
There were many duplicated projects of large and small estimated cost
Additionally, during the tours of Danville Elementary, Sandown North and Sandown Central, I discovered that a number of the listed projects had already been completed.
Just by seeing completed projects in person and striking out obvious duplications, I’ve already been able to subtract $1.1 million.
Then there’s looking at what is actually being requested:
- $2 million for generators in every school building
- a redundant boiler in Sandown North for $85,000
- $2.2 million for new windows in the high school (doesn’t include middle school) Yes, the school could use new windows….$2 million? Are we resurfacing the Prudential building?
The list is more padded than a shipment from Amazon.
Please don’t think I am criticizing any employee or that I hold any employee at fault for this list. Not at all. I believe that this is an encouraged tactic, like the general level of rudeness directed toward me, intended to sway public opinion and the sympathy of the Budget Committee who do not attend the Facility Committee meetings but should. Facility meetings are held during the working day which makes it difficult for elected officials who work to attend. In practice, only the chair of Budcom is present. These meetings are, however, open to the public and I go as a member of the public. Documents circulated at these meetings are public documents. Removing them from the room is not stealing them, and using them as a reference is not in any way untoward.
At the last Capital Improvement Committee meeting on Sept. 9th, the committee voted to ask the school board to replace the committee chairman. With a new chairman who is committed to the necessity and urgency of a Capital Improvement Plan, it is hoped the work of the committee will move forward with greater momentum. The school board will have to approve a different chairman and as it is deposing Mr. Collins, this will be a good test of the sincerity of your school board’s commitment to an organized plan for improvements.