Part 5 - About the Longview School Bond Nov2019
Our bond analysis continues with looking at the fourth published bond priority, “Large Repair Projects,” at a cost of $9.4 million before interest costs (probably > $12 million). Remember, I refer to the exact text that the school district presented in their flyer.
There are three bullet points:
Repair leaking roofs, HVAC systems, electrical problems, boilers, plumbing
Remodel bathrooms & repair concrete
Renovate or replace worn flooring, exterior siding and locker rooms
There is nothing wrong about doing repairs and replacing worn out parts; in fact, that is what we are supposed to do. But not budgeting for maintenance is very bad practice. What makes us think that when they get new facilities that they will take care of them? The point is that maintenance of facilities has an ongoing cost that must be factored into the carrying costs.
A rough estimate of these costs is 5% per year, which is about $5 million per year for the approximate $100 million of new construction. If their maintenance budget was not adequate before, where will the school district get the $5 million per year if not from increased taxes? This bond is just the beginning.
Also note that in the “Future Plans” section there is fine print: “2024-2025 facilities bond request preparation and determination.”
The fifth priority item is “stadium/athletics,” listed at $7million before interest.
This money is for the upgrade of Memorial Stadium.
One argument I heard Dr. Zorn say is that these upgrades are necessary to be able to attract tournaments. Well, Woodland has Scott Hill Park; Kelso has Rister Field; Longview has Roy Morse park. These three are competing for the same events, but they also are funded in part by grants, private donations, and volunteer labor. The Memorial Field upgrade is all taxpayer money … and plenty of it.
Do we really need to spend this money on one high school stadium? What does it do to prepare our kids for a competitive career outside of sports? How many kids will make it into MLB and the NFL because of this expenditure? How many kids will become employers of the future because they had a remodeled Memorial Field?
Yes, the schools need money, but I have yet to hear anything from the Superintendent's office to suggest how education will benefit from this huge bond indebtedness?
Before you vote yes on this bond, ask yourself whether you are doing this for the kids or to the kids. The indebtedness will be on their backs after they graduate.