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June 09, 2010

Comments

alittlebird

How many of you Burlingame residents are aware that the district is using bond monies to purchase this property, even though the bond money was supposed to only be used for facility modernization, which has now come to a stand still at all the schools???????
Better be in the know how to see how your money is being spent!

Lorne

Here is the most recent accounting of how bond funds have been spent year-to-date, which i found on the District's website. I'm a bit intrigued by the largest line item on "Bond Expenses Summary by Vendor" (item #39 on page 5) -- over $3 million to one firm, Dreiling Terrones Architecture, for Program Management / Program Development. This represents nearly 20% of the total $15 million spent to date. Does anyone know if this is in line with how much program management typically costs? Also, when looking at work done to-date at the various schools, it seems only a small % has been completed thus far for "site improvement/safety" and "class room modernization."

http://www.dtbarch.com/bsdmeasurea/4_oversight/PDF_oversight_meets/2010-05-13-bfp-expenditure-oversight.pdf

For comparison, here is the actual ballot for Measure A, which gives a summary project list (towards the bottom):

http://www.smartvoter.org/2007/11/06/ca/sm/meas/A/

Lorne

Clarification: I meant how bond funds have been spent 'to-date,' not 'year-to-date".

Holyroller

Is there a demand for school bulidings due to some sort of population explosion?
Is there not massive lay-offs of educators going on?
Where does the money come from to purchase obsolete property for students that are not available, to learn from educators that have bee fired?

alittlebird

My guess is that they will use Hoover to house what is now the district office.
This is way more than mismanagement of funds.

Joe

Here is the full article from today's DJ

More than 30 years after closing Hoover Elementary, Burlingame School District officials voted to buy the school back Tuesday night for $4.85 million.

Talk of purchasing the school regained momentum as the district realized its growing numbers. In April, the board voted 4-1 in closed session to move forward with final negotiations for the now-vacant Hoover Elementary School at 2220 Summit Drive. On Tuesday, the board unanimously approved a purchase of the building for $4.85 million. Now the district can start examining the building before the sale is finalized later this year.

“We’ve weighed this issue. Any time we take a chance, it’s for the better. It will really help all the schools, not just with the enrollment and capacity issues that we have,” said Trustee Greg Land.

There were few comments when the item first arose.

“It’s hard to believe we’ve gotten to this point and no one has anything to say,” said Board President Liz Gindraux.

That quickly changed as trustees Mark Intrieri, Michael Barber and Davina Drabkin noted the negotiated purchase price made the property a benefit to all. Also, the vote will allow the district the chance to further study the property.

Although no hard timeline is set, Superintendent Dianne Talarico said opening the school two years from now is a hopeful possibility.

Hoover was built in the ’30s, closed in 1978 and sold 10 years later. In 1989, Shinnyo-En Buddhist Facility was granted a city permit but later moved out of Burlingame. Recently, a trend of increased enrollment led the district to consider purchasing the property back. The property was first listed at $9.9 million, Shinnyo-En representative Tim Tosta said in January. The last accepted offer, which later fell through, was $8.2 million. However, a Internet search Tuesday night resulted in a $7.5 million listing price.

Although the potential purchase has been vetted for months, it wasn’t until Tuesday night that the purchase price was made public. In May, the board changed the priorities to Measure A, a $48.3 million bond passed in 2007, to cover the purchase. From the $48.3 million, $24.8 million in bond funds for construction costs, most of which is set aside for projects, remains but has yet to be used. Of that, about $4.4 million was a cushion of unallocated funds. At the meeting, the board decided through a split vote to use the cushion and deferring most of the modernization projects at Franklin Elementary School and Burlingame Intermediate to create over $9 million to be used for the potential purchase.

Hoover’s main draw is adding capacity.

Talarico called the school’s purchase a viable option and solution to the enrollment growth, endorsing the purchase before the Tuesday night vote.

Reclaiming Hoover as a school district property originally arose in 2006 through a city partnership for recreation space, which fell through. In October 2008, the idea resurrected as a possibility for administrative and classroom space. Talarico noted updated demographic numbers show the district has yet to reach its enrollment peak, which are projected to be 2,932 students.

blgme

Are the new buildings at McKinley and Lincoln being built for expansion - ie capabilities to build extra floors if enrollment increases? Seems this would be a more cost effective and more responsible spending of bond money?

If not, why not?

Lorne

http://www.burlingame.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=5673

Holyroller

What a rip off this is.
This is a very good reason for a grand jury investigation!
Who, and why was responsible for this obscene theft of funds.
If this was Real Estate Speculation, OK.
Last I heard was that money is needed now, elsewhere.
What/Who Upper Level Management retired recently?
That is a starting point for investagation.

KRN

Everything was done out in the open and with full public disclosure and comment. I attended the meeting when the purchase options v. modernization options were presented and discussed.

The enrollment in the district is expanding and the district needs to modernize classrooms. The option to buy real estate at this time was prudent. The district now has the capacity it needs and can still modernize its current sites. The district will have to re-zone the schools, but it can now handle all the students.

The CEO of School Services, the top education financial consulting firm in the state, has stated that right now is the best time for schools to purchase or update their capacity as it will be done at the lowest price.

This was a good move by the district as it will allow students to attend a neighborhood school and save residents money over the long run..

alittlebird

Modernization has come to a complete standstill with this purchase, KRN. Ask people in the know. There are no further modernization plans in the works for the upcoming year.

Ron Fulderon

item 76 Plasti-Print $30,681
poster 3' x 5' laminated - paid by Eloise with petty cash

The dtbarch document linked above is full of these.

item 41 $20,000 for One-time floor cleaning - BIS Auditorium cleaning the floor of the gym.

While I agree with Holyroller's sentiment that this warrants a grand jury investigation I suspect the jury would conclude that this is just business as usual when it comes to government spending.


Ron Fulderon

85 San Mateo Daily Journal $7,216 Publication of Notice to bidders - Bid advertisements

Wow, I didn't know it's so expensive to place a notice in that newspaper.

Ron Fulderon

88 Source Media $1,188 payment for ad "Notice of Intention to Sell"

alittlebird

Now you get the idea.

KRN

All of the plans for construction and modernization and their schedules were presented at the board meeting. You are correct, the plans for modernization have been placed on hold to free up funds for the purchase of the site. This change in scheduling was all done in an open environment was all presented to the pubic for comment and review.

S K

I have some recent experience with board meetings and citizen advisory groups that are supposed to play some role in the legitimacy of a public organization. I was on the San Mateo County Transportation Authority Citizen's Advisory Committee for a few years. I quit last year because I became too busy at my job to take time during the afternoon to attend the monthly meetings, and because I found that it was unsatisfying.

I was never really clear when we were presented 50 page budgets what we were supposed to do with them. We would look them over and see that they transferred funds from one category to another or see that projects had been started or finished and we would see very large amounts displayed but there was never any detail about what that money bought. There would usually be someone on the committee that would find a line item that needed clarification, like why was some number that was on a previous report now changed to another category and the head of the TA could always explain that it was a budget or bookkeeping change to something and we would be satisfied that we had examined the budget. We then would be asked to vote for an approval of it, which we always did, and that approval by the CAC (citizens advisory committee) would be mentioned at the San Mateo County Transportation Authority board meetings to add some extra legitimacy to the decisions made by the TA board. Our approval was based, as far as I could figure, on our faith that the people reporting the numbers and managing the projects were honest and doing a good job. I liked the guy running the TA, Joe Hurley, and had a gut feeling that he is honest and well meaning, and trying to do the right thing.

The reality is that public oversight, whether at a board meeting, or an advisory meeting is very much for show because we watch-dog citizens are not given the details that we need to know whether the governments are doing the right thing regarding the way the money is spent.

Ron, who knows if that $1,188 for advertising a "Notice for Intention to Sell" is a legitimate expense. It could be, but I doubt anyone at an open board meeting asked that question.


Holyroller

Very good comment SK.
Due to the people presenting any information to community/focus groups.
We are what we are.. people who have jobs, and responsiblities.
The people who sell us "their vision" work for, get paid for, selling us the Product of thier employer, wether they belive in it or not.
I never gave it much thought before but, being a commissioner, sitting on a board, more or less for free, is unquestionably the first line of defence for the community represented.
That should be a full time job, and be compensated for as well.
How much time does a real person on a board really have to give to details?
The seller has staff, expence account, access to information, and an entity to report to.
Awesome comment SK

Joe

Rather than start a new thread on shared services for schools, I will add this excerpt from the SF Examiner here:

Cities across the Peninsula are looking at combining services to save money, and now some cash-strapped school districts are doing the same.

Several school districts are looking into whether it might be cost-effective to share services like special education, preschool programs, lunches, groundskeeping and payroll.

The concept was brought up at a countywide meeting of district administrators earlier this year, but it’s still in the early stages, several superintendents said.

“We’re just starting to have some initial conversations with fellow school districts about sharing services,” said Robert Clark, assistant superintendent for business services at the Burlingame Elementary School District. “Those conversations are still very preliminary, but give it a year from now and it’ll probably look different.”

He said in the past few months, his district has been looking into sharing services with others.

“The biggest one is special ed,” Clark said. “Right now, we contract with certain providers, but if we could come together with other districts and bring some of those services in-house, where we’re not paying a private agency to provide the services, it might be cost effective.”

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/Peninsula-districts-learning-how-to-share-96730634.html#ixzz0rVlnddaq

chianglo

great notes SK and Holyroller....this district is insane, and focusing on the special needs is gratuitious....to get money...they don't give a hoot about these kids.

Al

@Lorne - regarding "Does anyone know if this is in line with how much program management typically costs?"

It really depends on the scope of work in the contract for program management, but this number seems extraordinarily high for a small school district and straightforward projects and schedules. I suspect the District is paying much more than they ought to be.

Holyroller

Looking behind the curtain I see racisim.
Finacial, as well as class.
Some group lobbied for this extravagent expenditure..
For themselves.
Something is very wrong around this event.
How did this happen?
To begin with the owners of the property were; as a "religous organization" tax exempt.

Hillsider

Would you mind only posting before happy hour starts?

Joe

From today's Daily Journal:

Purchasing a previously closed school to add space for Burlingame’s growing number of young children means delaying some modernization projects, but not eliminating them, according to Chief Business Officer Robert Clark.

In June, the Burlingame Elementary School District Board of Trustees unanimously voted to purchase the now-vacant Hoover Elementary School at 2220 Summit Drive. To do so, the board had to rearrange priorities for Measure A, a $48.3 million bond passed in 2007. The move may be confusing to some as it leaves many unanswered questions, like what will the final cost of purchasing and renovating Hoover be? Truthfully, district officials say they are not yet sure. It is hopeful the purchase won’t eliminate modernizations put on the back burner to move forward with the purchase. When those upgrades will happen, however, will depend on when money is in the bank.

http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?id=135145&title=District%20purchases%20old%20school%20—%20now%20what?

Holyroller

Dear Hillsider,
Is there one single position you can refute?
Please enlighten me/us.

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