Updated: February 7th
We obtained a copy of the 10 Year BGSD Student Enrollment Report and posted it at: http://www.swweducation.org/?p=4656
We suggest you read that analysis as well. It is material.
Battle Ground School Board Directors are asking you to vote Yes on a $224.9 million dollar capital bond. As you decide whether to vote yes or no we offer the following for your consideration:
What is a Capital Bond? It’s a request to allow the school district to borrow a defined amount of money to be spent on a suggested list of projects over a period of time to be repaid through property taxes over a 21 year period.
Does this bond replace another bond or is it new or in addition? The last bond was approved in 2006 and has another ~6 years to run. So this bond is on top of the existing bond and would be paid off in 2030.
Didn’t the BGSD just get a levy approved? Yes. In the Spring of 2017 they received voter approval for: $31,680,000 in 2018, $33,260,000 in 2019, $34,930,000 in 2020, and $36,670,000 in 2021 for a total of $136,540,000. This was the largest levy ever approved. The 2018 amount is ~16% higher than 2017.
What can levy money be used for? State law says it can NOT be used for basic education. Outside of that it can be used almost any way the School Board wants. In reality the BGSD uses ~90% of the money to pay for additional personnel beyond what the State pays for. In the 2007-2017 time frame (10 years) the BGSD took in over $283 million. The school board directors have chosen to hire more people rather than use the funds for buildings. [~30% of the district personnel are paid out of the levy. This is 2-3x HIGHER than any other district in SWW. What’s worse is that there is NO evidence that the extra people make any difference – the district admits it] That leaves ~10% for Maintenance & Operations (M&O) of which a small portion is allocated to “asset preservation” (AP). Asset preservation is used for structural, roof , flooring and major projects. Unfortunately then M&O/AP funds have been a bank account to be raided. The BGSD “AP” expenditures for the 2007-2017 period were: BGSD Asset Preservation Report_Analysis 2007-2017 Jan 2018
Are all of the bond projects needed or not? That is a judgment call. From our analysis it’s a mix. Here’s our analysis:
- Replace Glenwood/Laurin
- Pleasant Valley could be replaced or renovated
- New primary/middle school campus on 152nd
- Most of the other projects. Why? Because they could be paid out of the levy funds
- Playground covers? New locks? Replacing flooring? There is over $10 million in items that are clearly M&O
- Here’s a link to an analysis of the Needed vs Unneeded that we did: Feb132018_Bond_Need_Nice_NotNeeded Table
Is the BGSD dramatically growing? If you listen to the Board and District leadership they say yes. If you look at the actual data the answer is no. As a district Battle Ground has barely grown for the last 10 years. There has been some slight growth over the past 3 years on the southern end of the district (Glenwood/Laurin) but it’s not large. We got the residential construction data from Clark County as well as the City of BG. 2015-2017 BGSD Residential Permits If you look at the data in the link you’ll see that the numbers are small. Indeed, they should have over 800 new students in the past 3 years but have less than 200 and most of those are high school. So, the new houses and apartment haven’t produced the students…and the district knows it because we’ve shared the data. They do say that even though the data is lacking they “hope” there will be more.
Claims in the brochure mailer – If you saw the brochure you may have been persuaded to vote yes or are thinking about it. We took the time to go through it and submit comments to the School Board Directors in writing. Did you see the comments? No. Why not? Because they went into the archives. There is no requirement that opposition comments or facts be included in the school materials. Here’s the document that we submitted: BGSD 2018 Bond Brochure Comments Jan 6 2018
- We suggest a NO vote. They have loaded the bond with projects that are not needed, can’t be justified OR are because they chose NOT to use levy funds. They also ask for money for some work that does need to be done. They want you to make a choice and hope you will swallow the unneeded to get the needed.
- Lack of money for Asset Preservation has contributed to the need for some of this work. If they had used just a portion of the $283 million in levy money over the past 10 years they would not need to ask for some of this funding. To change their decision-making process for allocation of levy funds you need to tell them and the only way is to vote NO.