Daily Archives: April 7, 2011

PPS BOND: The Sale is On

From the other day. Press release from our friends at PPS.
Construction bond cost facts
Portland Public Schools [schoolmodernization@pps.k12.or.us]
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Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2011 4:42 PM
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Victoria Taft
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Portland Public Schools 501 North Dixon Street / Portland, OR 97227
503-916-3304 / pubinfo@pps.k12.or.us
Community Involvement & Public Affairs

School construction budget is based on independent professional estimates; Costs are in line with regional school districts

April 2, 2011

To the Portland Public Schools community:

The proposed bond for Portland’s Schools will rebuild deteriorated school buildings while providing safety, structural upgrades and modernized learning environments. The list of projects is significant, as are the measures taken to ensure the construction and financing connected to the bond is accountable, transparent and appropriate.

With guidance from independent construction engineers and professional cost estimators who know school construction, Portland Public Schools developed a comprehensive budget for our school bond program.

The bond will provide safety and other needed updates at every one of our schools – and we have laid out a budget that ensures we can deliver every project on time and on budget, as promised to voters.

Our pay-as-you-go financing plan, which primarily relies on short-term financing, will save more than $200 million in interest payments.

These are some key points about our school construction budget:

Few other school districts – outside Seattle – have completed truly similar projects, meaning project-to-project comparisons inside Oregon are difficult to make.

Many other Oregon school districts, unlike PPS, have school construction bonds in place. But most recent projects, especially in Portland’s suburbs, are new construction on open fields. PPS projects are full renovation of historic buildings that are 70 to 100 years old, on tight urban sites in dense neighborhoods. Our schools are on average 65 years old, and most have never been fully updated. They are outdated, with leaky roofs, inadequate electrical, plumbing and classroom equipment.

What we are proposing is different and more extensive than the work done in many other Oregon school districts. For example, a modest remodel of lighting, windows, paint and flooring costs far less per square foot. Few if any other Oregon school projects included full earthquake retrofits, full modernization of schools or re-construction in compact urban areas- with attention to retaining the historic character of the neighborhood. Earthquake safety upgrades alone can account for 15 to 30 percent of school construction costs.

The school construction projects in PPS are most similar to those that have been recently accomplished by Seattle Public Schools, an urban school district that also has roughly 47,000 students. Seattle is halfway through rebuilding their schools which, like ours, are older buildings with historic character (and failing systems) in dense neighborhoods. The PPS budget, however, is lower than in Seattle as construction costs in this market are roughly 5.5 percent lower (exclusive of Washington’s sales tax) based on generally accepted industry sources.

Independent school construction cost estimators set the base construction costs for PPS’s budget.

Because few local school projects are comparable to the work PPS proposes, two independent cost estimators offered base construction costs for PPS budgeting. Both have extensive experience and expertise in K-12 construction. Those third-party cost estimators proposed a budget of $322 to $358 per square foot for rebuilding historic schools. PPS then shaved the cost closer to the lower amount for estimating costs in our budget. Brand new construction costs more than renovating.

Portland’s bond measure budgets include elements that other budgets sometimes omit. The PPS bond construction budget includes contingency funds to ensure projects come in on budget and that all costs are covered – preventing cost overruns and protecting the general fund budget for teachers.

An article in The Sunday Oregonian focuses on how our projected costs compare to the average costs of dissimilar school construction across Oregon. Costs of such different projects are not nearly as reliable a standard as the independent professional expertise of school construction cost estimators.

We hope you take the time to consider the full picture and complexities of the issue. For any of you who have had the opportunity to see even one of Seattle’s school renovations, you know what a fully modernized historic school can provide the neighborhood, teachers and most of all students who are seeking to compete in a truly global economy.

Much more information is posted online, and please, feel free to email me any questions or comments. Thank you for your interest.

Sincerely,

C.J. Sylvester, Chief Operating Officer
Portland Public Schools

At Portland Public Schools, this is our goal: By the end of elementary, middle, and high school, every student by name will meet or exceed academic standards and will be fully prepared to make productive life decisions. For more information on Portland Public Schools, call 503-916-3304, email us or visit our website. Portland Public Schools is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

D.C. Dem: Shutdown Like "Bombing Innocent Civilians"

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton Upset Over Treatment of DC During Shutdown Resolution Talks: MyFoxDC.com

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D -DC), “District residents are being treated as colonists of the Congress of the United States. We are absolutely outraged. This is the functional equivalent of bombing innocent civilians.”

H/T and later video clip at MyFoxNews.com

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Trump Tower or a High School? PPS Goes for (Making Us) Broke at $350-$415/sq ft Schools

Click to Enlarge
In a recent news item (here) we learned that the desired refurbishments for several Portland Public Schools will cost between $350 and $415 per square foot which is much higher than most other schools according to this organization. We wondered what that a half a billion dollar bond would buy. As it turns out it may be buying a platinum school. And I don’t just mean LEEDS platinum. I think there might be some precious metals in a bathroom somewhere (Alert to Matt Shelby and his buddies at Politifact: that last sentence is SATIRE).
If you’re doing your due diligence what you should do is get comparative prices. Real estate folks call them comps. And the school construction business provides them. 
See them nearby. 
But how do the Portland’s needlessly high prices stack up with businesses for instance? Not well, I’m afraid. 
As I cast about yesterday for some prices per square foot for commercial buildings I found these numbers:
Motel/Hotel moderately priced: $230/sq ft finished.
Avg Bldg Costs in Oregon: $100-$150/sq ft finished
Even Pete the Banker thinks the Portland Public Schools numbers are way out of bounds:
Now this may not be fully comparable since the Portland projects are rehabs involving structural upgrade including seismic and I presume they have included a component of Administrative overhead (maybe a lot); but over $400/sf seems very high. 
Even new Class A Medical Offices seldom exceed $300 – $350/sf in cost and they seldom skimp on interior finish which is anywhere from $40 – $120 per sq ft. which is included in that cost figure range.
But what would Pete know, I mean he’s only spent decades in the business. Pssh! Still he sends along a typical one sheet for construction projects that he sees on a daily basis.  
As you can see,  the price per square foot comes out to $146. Pete says depending on how you finish it we’re looking at somewhere around $200/sq ft. 

I even took a look at the price per square foot Trump Tower in Chicago, but all I could come up with was the purchase price for a pre owned condo which was $1620. That doesn’t tell us a lot about building costs–except that it’s only four times the price per square foot of a refurbished Jefferson High. Hey, wait a minute…

This pie in the sky plan to refurbish/replace these schools from the studs up came from nearly nowhere. Upgrading schools is always on somebody’s to-do list, but this plan is extraordinary. They threw EVERYthing in the plan, giving EVERY school SOMEthing so they wouldn’t feel left out (and parents will vote in favor of them). One school would be rebuilt but another school would get a lovely parting gift: smart boards. One school would get a studs-up remake, but another would get a new stage outfit and smart boards! They’re asking us to pay debt service on computer screens. Put another way, that would be like putting overhead projector screens on a bond measure. Don’t get me wrong, I like smart boards. My kid’s school has a couple. But bonding them is like bonding chairs for teachers. Dumb.
New schools don’t improve test scores, retention and English literacy which are Portland’s biggest problems. 

In my next posts on this project I’ll cover reasons behind the high construction costs and what it will cost you and this story will be worth the wait. Check out Bojack’s recent post here about who’s paying for the big campaign in favor of the bond and levy measures (hint: look in the mirror!).

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Media Matters Does Victory Lap After Beck Announces He’s Leaving Fox News

What’s heartening is that MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Media Matters for America chief, David Brock admit they were part of a concerted effort to get Glenn Beck off TV, but, they hasten to add, they did it for us. They just couldn’t bring themselves to allow this “crazy” “insane” “madman’s” ranting on the air. 
I don’t know the reason Beck left Fox, but I’ve been hearing for quite some time he wanted to leave

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

Olympia Beseiged by Union Goons, 17 Arrested. Fleebagger Due in.

As I predicted here, inspired by the disruptive display of union supporters and thugs in Wisconsin and ignoring that Washington State remains a Democratic Party majority government, union goons invaded the state capitol in Olympia where seventeen union goons and supporters were arrested for trying to storm Democrat Governor Gregoire’s office, according to the Olympian.

The union goons, upset over being expected to “pay their fair share” in the current budget crisis.

The protest, led by the greedy SEIU is said to have brought about 500 people to oppose budget reductions called for across the board to offset the current $5 Billion budget gap.

Washington State Patrol officers did not arrest those who refused to leave the capitol last night after being told to, but arrested the 17 today when they tried to force their way past the officers into Governor Gregoire’s office, shouting “let us in” and “we want the governor.”

One of the union goons, Sharon Kitchel-Perdue who was arrested said, “They need to listen to us,” referring to the Democrat led legislature.

The thugs are demanding an “end corporate tax exemptions before cutting state services,” mimicking the “raising taxes is an incentive for the rich to work harder” meme recently heard at a Moveon.org rally held in Vancouver.

With the state capitol in Olympia now on lock-down, The Washington State Labor Council and Washington Federation of State Employees are announcing that Wisconsin state Sen. Spenser Coggs, one of the 14 Wisconsin Fleebagging Democrats that fled the state in a bid to prevent a Democratic vote to take place last month will be a “high-profile guest” to Friday’s planned rally, expected to bring about 5,000 union goons and thugs in to protest “paying their fair share.”

In an email to the Olympian, spokeswoman for the Labor Council Kathy Cummings said, “This is a huge opportunity for our Labor Community and our own state Democrats to hear from one of the legendary figures who stood up to Governor Scott Walker’s initial attempts to ram his union busting bill through the state legislature. You won’t want to miss the reception he will get from all of Labor in Washington state.”

That their juvenile tantrum failed to stop Wisconsin from going ahead with the cost cutting measures and they had to shop for a sympathetic judge to block the legislation passed, is forgotten.

That efforts to stack the Wisconsin Supreme Court have backfired with the discovery of a computer error, negating union sympathizing challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg’s premature declaration of victory with a 40 vote lead, that now gives incumbent conservative state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser a 7,500 vote lead, just shows me that the Wisconsin fleebagger has much to pay heed to in his own state, instead of acting like some sort of false hero to union goons in Washington State.

Union thugs camping out in the Wisconsin capitol caused millions of dollars in damage to the building. No reported damage as of yet in Olympia.

His time would be better spent help to wipe the jubilant smiles off the faces of Moveon.org and People for the American Way who declared in email just today, “we just had a HUGE win” as news was breaking of the computer error that failed to report thousands of votes last evening.

Sorry thugs and goons, but that’s the way the union crumbles.

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

PPS BOND: The Sale is On

From the other day. Press release from our friends at PPS.
Construction bond cost facts
Portland Public Schools [schoolmodernization@pps.k12.or.us]
To help protect your privacy, some content in this message has been blocked. If you are sure that this message is from a trusted sender and you want to re-enable the blocked features, click here.
Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2011 4:42 PM
To:
Victoria Taft
Attachments:
Share This:

If you’re having trouble viewing this email, you may see it online.
Portland Public Schools 501 North Dixon Street / Portland, OR 97227
503-916-3304 / pubinfo@pps.k12.or.us
Community Involvement & Public Affairs

School construction budget is based on independent professional estimates; Costs are in line with regional school districts

April 2, 2011

To the Portland Public Schools community:

The proposed bond for Portland’s Schools will rebuild deteriorated school buildings while providing safety, structural upgrades and modernized learning environments. The list of projects is significant, as are the measures taken to ensure the construction and financing connected to the bond is accountable, transparent and appropriate.

With guidance from independent construction engineers and professional cost estimators who know school construction, Portland Public Schools developed a comprehensive budget for our school bond program.

The bond will provide safety and other needed updates at every one of our schools – and we have laid out a budget that ensures we can deliver every project on time and on budget, as promised to voters.

Our pay-as-you-go financing plan, which primarily relies on short-term financing, will save more than $200 million in interest payments.

These are some key points about our school construction budget:

Few other school districts – outside Seattle – have completed truly similar projects, meaning project-to-project comparisons inside Oregon are difficult to make.

Many other Oregon school districts, unlike PPS, have school construction bonds in place. But most recent projects, especially in Portland’s suburbs, are new construction on open fields. PPS projects are full renovation of historic buildings that are 70 to 100 years old, on tight urban sites in dense neighborhoods. Our schools are on average 65 years old, and most have never been fully updated. They are outdated, with leaky roofs, inadequate electrical, plumbing and classroom equipment.

What we are proposing is different and more extensive than the work done in many other Oregon school districts. For example, a modest remodel of lighting, windows, paint and flooring costs far less per square foot. Few if any other Oregon school projects included full earthquake retrofits, full modernization of schools or re-construction in compact urban areas- with attention to retaining the historic character of the neighborhood. Earthquake safety upgrades alone can account for 15 to 30 percent of school construction costs.

The school construction projects in PPS are most similar to those that have been recently accomplished by Seattle Public Schools, an urban school district that also has roughly 47,000 students. Seattle is halfway through rebuilding their schools which, like ours, are older buildings with historic character (and failing systems) in dense neighborhoods. The PPS budget, however, is lower than in Seattle as construction costs in this market are roughly 5.5 percent lower (exclusive of Washington’s sales tax) based on generally accepted industry sources.

Independent school construction cost estimators set the base construction costs for PPS’s budget.

Because few local school projects are comparable to the work PPS proposes, two independent cost estimators offered base construction costs for PPS budgeting. Both have extensive experience and expertise in K-12 construction. Those third-party cost estimators proposed a budget of $322 to $358 per square foot for rebuilding historic schools. PPS then shaved the cost closer to the lower amount for estimating costs in our budget. Brand new construction costs more than renovating.

Portland’s bond measure budgets include elements that other budgets sometimes omit. The PPS bond construction budget includes contingency funds to ensure projects come in on budget and that all costs are covered – preventing cost overruns and protecting the general fund budget for teachers.

An article in The Sunday Oregonian focuses on how our projected costs compare to the average costs of dissimilar school construction across Oregon. Costs of such different projects are not nearly as reliable a standard as the independent professional expertise of school construction cost estimators.

We hope you take the time to consider the full picture and complexities of the issue. For any of you who have had the opportunity to see even one of Seattle’s school renovations, you know what a fully modernized historic school can provide the neighborhood, teachers and most of all students who are seeking to compete in a truly global economy.

Much more information is posted online, and please, feel free to email me any questions or comments. Thank you for your interest.

Sincerely,

C.J. Sylvester, Chief Operating Officer
Portland Public Schools

At Portland Public Schools, this is our goal: By the end of elementary, middle, and high school, every student by name will meet or exceed academic standards and will be fully prepared to make productive life decisions. For more information on Portland Public Schools, call 503-916-3304, email us or visit our website. Portland Public Schools is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com