What are the voters to believe?
The facts from the Lake Pend Oreille School District are changing on a daily basis. What are the voters to believe?
All the original documentation around this facilities plan shows that all the building projects will be completed by the end of 2018. On August 16, however, the School Board Chairman reported in a radio interview that there is a 3-year timeline to complete projects. So which is it?
CFO Lisa Hals reported to the School Board in May that the 5 athletic fields and new track would cost $1.15 million. At a presentation on August 11, Facilities Planning Committee Chair Kendon Perry stated the cost is now $2.3 million – twice as much. He followed up with a decrease in funding for “special projects”. It appears funds are being reallocated already.
Keep in mind the actual ballot question has no line item costs and therefore no accountability to any of the projects being proposed. Which school will go unfinished?
Next we see the plan for Washington Elementary has morphed into rebuilding “the majority” of the school. In all the previous documentation it has been referred to as rebuilding the “main” building. Is this the school that will not be finished as planned?
Another statement by Kendon Perry brought to light how they truly came up with the $55million number: “8.8 million dollars accounts for the tax revenue that the district is legally allowed by the state of Idaho code to collect from taxpayers. And then if you take that and factor a very conservative 2% inflation each and every year for six years, total those six numbers, that’s 55 million dollars. And then we took that and we compared that against the projects that we had analyzed …”
So they figured out the upper limit of tax they could take from property owners and worked backwards.
You should also know that the district has participated in “wordsmith adjustment”, according to Perry. This first appeared in an email in which the district wanted to remove the word “maintenance” from all the public records involving this facilities plan in order to have “some flexibility in those dollars”.
Another act of changing the language surfaced when Perry stressed that the Superintendent and the CFO did not receive bonuses. Looking at the Superintendent’s contract, it clearly states “performance bonuses”. Also, the minutes of last October’s School Board meeting show the board formally announcing three years’ worth of bonuses to the Superintendent and the CFO. It looks like the b-word has hit a nerve: this summer his bonus is being described as “deferred compensation”. Who are they kidding?
Most people are asking why the process was rushed. Others want to know why such secrecy. People are hungry for information but cannot find answers to their questions. The school district is scrambling to put together informational meetings at the last minute. I would like to know why the facts are changing from what was approved by the School Board in May.