Pinole Valley High – update


There is good news to report on the fate of Pinole Valley High School.
CCT article here.
At the April 13 WCCUSD Board meeting, the Board, by a vote of 3-1-1 approved the new budget, thereby setting the stage for the completion of Pinole Valley High School.
If all goes well the school will be ready for the graduating class of 2019.

I thought long and hard about this important decision.
I had discussions with members of the public and elected officials, the Pinole City Council and members of the School Board,  about this critical vote.

As a member of the CBOC I have had a front row seat on all things Bond related.
Our task is to oversee the Bond Program expenditures.

I took everything I knew and felt into consideration.
After crunching the numbers, I reached the conclusion that there was no guarantee that any of the other options offered would decrease the cost of the school, and in fact, the other options would delay this project further and possibly result in little if any cost savings.
In the end, I supported Option A, to increase the budget for the school by approximately 33M, thereby setting the budget for PVHS at approximately $233M.

It is as, I’ve said, a staggering amount of money.
Is this an ideal conclusion? For many, it is not.
I won’t get into the politics of this, I have heard enough political rhetoric and seen too much political theatre and histrionics already.
There was certainly no lack of that at the meeting.
A wise man told me that often politics gets in the way of thoughtful discussion and conversation, yes, indeed.

I also think it is fair and appropriate for WCCUSD staff to bring options to the Board.
Unfortunately that type of long-term and bottom-line thinking and initiative has been lacking and perhaps discouraged for many years.
Former staff members have spoken to me, in confidence, about their frustration and inability to implement cost controls, or adhere to budgets because of political pressures.
A current staff member, Dennis Clay, has put his job on the line to speak out about the Bond Program.

So, I applaud staff for offering options and playing an important role in these decisions.
They are, after all, our experts, the people we hired, they are not contract workers.
It’s an important distinction.

I am pleased that the Board understands that after 16 years, this program must be better managed.
It is time to put a long-term strategy in place.
It is also time that this District learn from the mistakes that have been made.

The District must be held accountable for the Bond Program, its successes and its failures.
Taxpayers must be able to rely on bond measure language that is precise and can be the tracked back to expenditures.
Taxpayers I have spoken to are not willing to “trust” or believe in this District.
It will take major philosophical changes to improve the communities’ relationship with the district.
Leaders must lead.

The Clay Investigation report is tentatively due in August or September.
This comprehensive forensic investigation should tell us how this program has been functioning and what, if any changes, need to be made.

What we need now is a clear strategy to address the very real needs of the remaining schools.
The New Master Plan optimistically identifies $200M to try to meet the needs of some of the 21 schools.
It is in my opinion, akin to putting your finger in your ear to stop a nosebleed.

The Facilities Subcommittee meets today. The Options it will choose to recommend to the full Board will be discussed.
That recommendation will go before the Full Board on April 27.
Once the Board has chosen an option that option will be converted to a plan which will be ratified by the Facilities Subcommittee on May 17 and the full board on May 25.

PVHS will be built, students and parents can look forward to a beautiful new, modern school.
But this School District must hit the reset button and find a way to embrace the needs of all of its students.






Pinole Valley HS, Graduating Class of ???



The Front Lines
I have been on the WCCUSD Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee since June of 2010, the longest serving member in its history.
I have served three of those years as the Chair, longer than any Chair in the WCCUSD CBOC’s history. On June 10, 2016 I will term out.
I have seen and heard many things. Frankly, there have been many “what the….” moments.
I challenged the District to keep its promises and stop arm wrestling with the CBOC.
I insisted that they stop placing obstacles in our way. It is the task of the CBOC to actively review and report on Bond Program expenditures. That can not be done without cooperation from the District.
The CBOC serves as an important voice for the tax payers who approved $1.6 Billion in bond measures. This committee has made great strides and has become much more than the District’s cheerleading squad.

The End Game
I have been highly critical of the District and its management of the Bond Program, its lack of costs controls and lack of adherence to budgets. Promises were made to the voters that realistically can not be met. Many taxpayers who bear the burden of the Bonds may never realize a benefit for their schools, from those funds.
There was no plan that clearly defined where the program was, where it was going or how it would get there, what we termed, the “End Game”.
The CBOC asked the District for a plan, a strategy, because it seemed clear to us that finishing what was started could not be accomplished with the remaining bond funds.
In 2015 the District began to develop a New Facilities Master Plan, the first update since 2007.

It was not until 2013-2014 that the District, after coming under intense public and media scrutiny, followed by the defeat of Measure H, (the proposed seventh Bond Measure), and the scathing, 2015 Grand Jury Report, “A Case of Stymied Oversight”; that the District altered the way it conducted business.
In February 2014 when asked directly about budgets, then Associate Superintendent Bill Fay, stated that this District’s Bond Program was “scope-driven”, not “budget-driven”.
My jaw dropped, as did the jaws of many of the CBOC members. It was one of those “what the…” moments.
Add to the equation investigations by the SEC, the IRS and most recently, the Clay Investigation and clearly there is ample reason for skepticism.

New Facilities Master Plan
The New Facilities Master Plan, is seeking to define the “End Game”.
The Bond Program as a whole, has a total of $400M still available in Bond Authorization.
This ongoing effort has analyzed and evaluated various criteria to establish needs and priorities for the 21 “untouched” schools in the District.
The New Master Plan allocates $200M, to these schools,  $200M was previously set aside for Pinole Valley High School.

Now communities are actively lobbying for their piece of what’s left of the Bond Program $1.6 Billion dollar pie.
As expected stakeholders are speaking out against the cost of building PVHS, because the perception is that the additional $33M needed for the completion of PVHS would reduce the $200M and negatively impact their schools.
This New Master Plan attempts to accomplish a lot, with very little, $200M for 21 schools.
Based on project estimates and the real needs of the 21 schools included in this Plan, which are many, it is Mission Impossible, in my opinion.

The reality is that the Master Plan’s $200M option (option A), “solving small scale issues” (the Band-Aid solution) is based on project estimates, today, now, not tomorrow or five years down the road. This option is the most favored according to the surveys conducted.
But, if we’ve learned anything it is that construction budgets and estimates are moving targets.
Option B would touch 4 schools, in a “combination of modernization and/or replacements”, for $200M, the total to do all the schools in this manner is estimated to be $687.2M.
Option C, to divide the funding between all the school families is TBD.
Option D, “continue replacements with revised standards”, would cover the 4 schools for $200M, or all of the schools for $947.1M.
Option E, “continue all schools replacements”, would cover 4 schools (subject to potential funding) for $200M, or “continue all schools replacements” for $1,041,900,000B.
So, if, the decision is to continue to replace all the “21” schools, the cost to accomplish that is projected to be $1 Billion.
Clearly this will require more Bonds. How do you think that is going to go over?

So what is Fair?
The feelings of frustration and anger are real. The community has been given little reason to believe or trust that the District can keep its promises and do what is necessary for their schools and their children. The District has failed many of its parents, students and taxpayers.

Nobody is happy.
And frankly, I share the anger and frustration of all the stakeholders and the taxpayers who have so generously approved these six bond measures with the expectation that improved facilities would translate to improved student achievement in a safe and clean learning environment.
Seems to me that we all are “victims”.

Pinole Valley High 
On March 15, 2016 the bids for Pinole Valley High School were received.
The BOE’s approved budget (approved in September 2015) for PVHS, $181,900,000, has risen to approximately $222,000,000.
In 2010 the estimated budget was $120,000,000.
In 2013 the estimated budget was $181,900,000.
These increases were not the result of “extravagance” or “excess”, according to the Project Status Report, but rather the result of the changing economy and the moving target so inherent in construction.
Increase due to:
There has been an escalation of 3-5% per year
Extended Design and DSA approval process
Contracting Environment
Labor Force Availability
Volume of Bay Area Projects bidding and under construction
Impacts of downward market forces over the last 4-5 years on available contracting communities
Size site and access affecting contractor logistics (onsite storage & staging), sequencing of work.
$222M, yes, that is a staggering amount of money.

But will the $33M members of the public are asking to have reduced from PVHS’s budget be adequate to meet the needs of those 21 schools?
Should the BOE now draw a line in the sand at PVHS?
Will the Band-Aid solution work?
Will the projected estimate of $200M based on today’s dollars remain static or is that also  a moving target?
Will the choices the BOE will make on April 13, solve the problems?
Can the BOE reach a compromise solution?
Is it time for the District to change its standards and revise its Ed Specs?
Should the WCCUSD follow the standards used by Charter Schools?
That, my friends is a whole other kettle of political fish.

So what is fair?
Here we are now.
And the hope that the new Pinole Valley High School will have its first graduation class in 2019, is in serious jeopardy.
The choices are excruciatingly difficult.
And no matter what the result, there will be an awful lot of angry people.
This all becomes political theatre now. 

The Home Team
The Board Of Education will vote on the available options for the completion of Pinole Valley High School on Wednesday April 13, 2016, at 6:30 Pm. Lavonya Dejean MS.
The Options they will consider at that meeting are:
Option A. Award as bid, increase the project budget by $32,300,000.
This will decrease available funding associated with the WCCUSD Long Range Facilities Master Plan by $32.3M.
Option B – Redesign the project to 1200 student capacity, and within existing budget:
*Reduce overall square footage
* Revise WCCUSD Standards (preferred products, CHPS, etc.)
* Streamline Program Requirements
* Considerations:
+Time for redesign and DSA approval, anticipated 12-24 months
+ Opportunity costs, anticipated (Escalation, portables lease etc) $10M
+Total reduction required with opportunity costs $45.7M

In closing, I want to thank my colleagues on the CBOC for their support and hard work.
It has been my honor to lead the CBOC over the last three years and although we may not agree on certain issues, I know that we all want the very best for our children.
Go Spartans.





Pinole Schools


PVHS Project Status and Update
As the Pinole representative on the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, I would like to make you aware of the Special Facilities Sub-Committee Meeting being held on Monday, April 4, 2016, at 1:00 pm, FOC, 1400 Marina way South, Richmond.
This meeting was called to discuss the updated PVHS budget.
It is important information for everyone. The recommendation made at this meeting will then be sent to the BOE for their approval on April 13.
On Tuesday, April 5, 2016, at 6:00 pm. the District will make a presentation on the New Master Plan to the City Council.

Click to access AG-2016-04-05.pdf

I encourage all those interested in the status of the Bond Program and their respective schools to attend both of these meetings.