Wednesday, June 14, 2006

FWCS passes the buck to taxpayers

On the news last night they showed Snider HS in a bad state of repair. I served in the US Navy and the steam pipes I saw on the news along with the valves showed little to no preventative maintenance. The rust on the valves is due to leaking steam. No one has put any grease on the threads in years nor have they rebuilt the bonnet. The rusted pipe flanges have seals that have failed. This is clear from the rust and the degradation of the outside pipe. How many times have they changed these low cost and easy to fix seals? Now they propose to spend $389,000 to due a study. Give me a break.

The principals of the schools are responsible for their schools. This includes maintenance. It appears some have failed to adequately maintain their buildings. Now if the principals have requested funds for maintenance and the school board has not approved them, then the school board is negligent.

Much of the problem is the result of using cash flow accounting instead of accrual. Build a nice building and do little to maintain it for the first 15 years. Accrual no funds to replace the heating or AC in 15 years, resulting in another one time big cost. A roof is another big time cost. For example if a roof costs $250K every ten years in preventive maintenance, then you need to be setting aside $25K a year or more to pay for it when it is needed. The same is true for all consumables. What I saw at Snider showed little to no maintenance. Now they come to the taxpayer and want them to pay to fix their negligence.

If accrual accounting were used, then funds would be budgeted and funds accumulated to pay for scheduled maintenance. If you do not do this, then building fall apart and a $100 million assets drops in values and becomes a white elephant.

People speak out about coroners needing to be educated and trained in their field; well the same is true of school board members, principals and representatives to name just a few.

I will say it again; it is the responsibility of the school board to maintain the assets of the school system. They higher a superintendent who is responsible for making sure the assets of the schools are maintained. They must implement preventative maintenance programs to maintain asset values and minimize costs to taxpayers. The principals are responsible for informing the superintendent of the needs of the schools. The maintenance workers in each school are responsible for informing the principal of their needs to maintain buildings. I will say it again, what I saw on the news was not a properly maintained school. Now the taxpayers are the ones who must pay the bill. If I were a FWCS taxpayer I would be asking each school board member how many times they visited the schools and where did they go? Did they spend time in classrooms shaking hands and being seen or did they look at the school’s infrastructure in particular?

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