Thursday, August 24, 2006

Does converting a middle school to a freshmen academy cost anything?

Superintendent Yeager was upset with the remonstrators. Why wait years after the study on a second high school to voice opposition? Well it is pretty easy superintendent Yeager. First I waited for the study to be released, but instead of finding it accessible on the web site, I find I have to go to administration office during their working hours to get it. It would really make things easier for all if all public documents were simply scanned into a pdf file and placed on the NACS’s web site.

However, more importantly many of us waited until we had two choices to compare. The board dismissed outright the cost of a second high school. Their study showed a new high school would cost $100 million, which includes land. Sure this is a lot and it is prudent to look at an alternative.

The alternative was a renovation, which added a new much larger gym, administration offices, a few classrooms and moving some other departments. Cost was $63 million. The result of the renovation was a total high school capacity of 2,800 students.

What the school board failed to realize was that others would verify their math. How did they get to 2,800 when the renovation would add 700 seats and Carroll had a capacity of 1500? Well they got 2,800 by converting the Carroll Middle School to a Freshmen Academy. Is there a cost to converting the Carroll Middle School to a Freshmen Academy, yes? The cost is pretty easy to identify. In order to convert the middle school to a freshmen academy, they first had to build a replacement middle school. This mean they had to buy land, put in sewer water and electric. According the board the value of this school was $18,977,633. What I do not know is does the nearly $19 million include land, sewer and electric costs? From what I was told, this did not included land costs. This means the cost to replace the converted middle school is higher.

Now the board likes to show that the increase in the property tax due to the renovation is $213 on a $150K home. What this value does not include is the increase in property tax to pay for the land and new middle school to raise the renovated school capacity to 2,800.

The Superintendent stressed that remonstrators do not include the cost of land in their analysis. Let’s get one thing straight all school require land on which to sit and all land costs money. What the school board did to make the cost of the school look cheaper is to use land it already owned and which is already part of the tax rate. What the school board failed to do is allocate the now allocated lands’ allocated taxes to their respective schools.

If you do not add in the cost of the land for the elementary, why do you add in the cost of land for a new high school? To compare apples to apples, you need to use the same frame of reference. What the school board clearly has done is to leave out the cost of converting the middle school to an academy.

There is no doubt we need another elementary. The freshmen Academy could easily be used as an elementary saving the taxpayers $25 million. This is a credit towards building a new high school.

The board says Carroll requires $20 million to upgrade technology, administrative offices and Heating and AC system. First if we go with a new high school, we do not need more administrative offices since the school body will be reduced back to design capacity. Second, we do not need a technology upgrade. The technology we have now is more than adequate for education. We need to teach our children how to learn and the basics.
Third, the Heating and AC system needs to be looked at without the renovation.

Cost of renovation is $63 million plus the $25 million academy or $88 million.
Cost of a new school is $100 million minus $25 million (value of academy) - $20 million Carroll upgrade. Total cost of a new cost is $55 million.

Now we can do a back of the envelope check to verify if these numbers are even plausible. We know the new Cedar Canyon School was $17 million and has a capacity of 550 students. The cost per seat is $30,909. Even if a high school required twice the space per student or $61,818, we are looking at $80.3 million for 1,300 seat capacity. The school board provided the value of the each school. Carroll has a capacity of 1,500 students and its value is $43,001,656. The cost per seat is $28,668. So taking the $55 million estimate above and dividing it b 1,300 I get $42,307 per seat. Clearly this number is higher the Carroll High School value of $26,668 and less than $61,818.

It would be wise and very prudent to hold off on renovating Carroll until we can clear up the numbers. I support the remonstrative.

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