I thought my previous letter would be my last science-building letter. Then I read the March 28 U-B.
Two letters from Walla Walla School District officials had familiar words that prodded my memory.
In her letter, a School Board member wrote: “It is a win for the taxpayers, who asked for lower costs, a phased project and focus on the greatest need.”
In his letter, the School District communications director wrote: “The school district listened to the community by focusing on its greatest needs, phasing the project over time and lowering the cost by nearly $60 million.”
The claims to “lower costs” are completely inaccurate when comparing overall cost of each classroom and the square footage involved.
Let’s compare the preceding statements with statements made by school officials in the “Edison Bond Facts.”
“We listened.” “Walla Walla spoke.” “Keep project costs and taxes low.” “This proposal represents a 64 percent cost reduction from the May bond.” The Edison quotes sound like the proposed science bond quotes. We know where the “Edison deception” took us. The School Board lost trust.
Talk of “lowering the cost by nearly $60 million,” and the Edison quote, “a 64 percent cost reduction from the May bond” are bogus claims.
Those claims give the false illusion we’re getting the same product for millions less in cost.
The following examples compare building a new science building with remodeling the existing science/math building.
The proposed science building cost, $10.2 million. Ten classrooms, $1.02 million each. Twenty-five thousand square feet. Cost per foot $408.
Don’t believe School District claims that construction cost is $7.4 million. The $2.8 million, associated building costs are part of each classroom, not some nebulous nothing in space.
Proposed modernization of the existing science/math building presented in U-B on June 30, 2013:
Total square footage, 49,708; 22 classrooms (two additional classrooms and 11,483 additional footage over existing building.) Our cost per foot, $187.30. State matching dollars, about $5.74 million. Total project cost to modernize, $15.05 million. Local bond amount, $9.31 million.
The remodel proposal adds two classrooms and 11,483 feet to the existing science/math building.
If you deduct two new classrooms added in the remodel proposal from the proposed 10 classrooms in the new building, you have a net gain of eight classrooms — $1.27 million per classroom.
Building new will likely require paying millions later to remodel.
Remodel sounds much better with more facts.