Showing posts with label Bond. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bond. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Comments on comments in the Wave on Bond

Well, typical of the last issue before an election, the Wasatch Wave reports being overrun with letters and was unable to print them all. However, following from their editorial position of support seemed to somewhat bias their letter selection, with three expressing concern over the bond and eight supportive of the Bond.

Further if one calculates the column inches devoted to the two "sides," the bias becomes more pronounced 85 column inches to 31. To go even further, 85 inches of type was given to the School District for "news" and commentary in support of the 12 inch editorial suggesting a "yes" vote (with a reservation about the size.)

A few comments about some of the epistles printed, if I may; which I can, because it's my blog.
Self proclaimed "country boy" Phil Sweat, launches a vehement diatribe against one particular candidate (which seems to violate the Wave's length standard and its policy against candidate support - but apparently allows candidate bashing, if unnamed) and then slips in a few lines opposing the bond because of costs and the size of the school.

Paul Sweat, not surprisingly as the school principal, supports his own design.

Marie Adams is right on, discussing wants and needs.

Greg Tayler (an unsigned Doctor) declares pride in the new proposal.

Lynn Adams (a declared Doctor, as in new PhD) tries a creative computation to show taxes aren't really going up if we add up enough of them, but then falls for the "sacrifice" propaganda.

I'm sure you can (will) read the rest for yourself. I won't bother either with the School District and chief propagandist John Moss' comments, except to say it's mildly amazing the amount of room that has been given to these "press releases" not only in this issues but also on the front page for the last few weeks of sales pitches. The question needs to be asked - how much School District time and money has been paid while some employees were working for a yes vote?

A minor comment on the full page ad by Citizens for Better Schools. Wow, might the money have been better spent on a donation to the Wasatch Foundation. Then another half page of supporters names - if their ad is true (2,500 supporters), I guess they are well on the way to the $60 million educational edifice.

Tuesday's vote will be interesting.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

WOW, what did they miss?

After unsuccessfully asking for more detailed information plans about the new High School, they've been found.

For those interested the new proposed $60 million High School, more detailed school plans are available at the Wasatch School website. Click on the various "levels" for PDF files (large, allow a few minutes to download). The plans can then be enlarged for greater detail, to see what the individual rooms are being used for.

Would you believe? (all estimated areas at 1" =16 ft at 200% magnification):

  • Indoor baseball practice about 25 x 80 = 2000 sq.ft. @$150+/sq.ft. = $300,000+
  • "Little Theater/Drama" 2000 sq.ft. (in addition to the auditorium)
  • Varsity Weight room 3200 sq.ft. = $480,000+
  • Three Basketball courts
  • 4,000 sq.ft. of "news set & production studio"
  • Racquetball court
  • 8+ offices in the athletic area
  • A "Student Government" room
  • 5 "team room locker"
  • Ever cognizant of gender equality, there's also a 2000 sq.ft. "cheer/dance" area
  • There are 50 + classrooms, too
    What ever happened to the swimming pool?
  • Look for yourself and decide - WANTS or Needs?

    Friday, October 20, 2006

    The SURVEY says . . .

    The Survey on the $60 million Wasatch High School was posted to try to gauge the pulse of the community and gather comments about the bond and the proposed High School. The proponents of the bond decided to use (abuse) the survey and turn it into propaganda promoting the YES vote.

    They were successful! 78% now report being strongly in favor of the bond.

    As promised, the results are now being made public . Reading thorough the comments will show the researcher the intent of the bias group. See the previous comments on the "packing issue below.

    Enjoy the comments, some are quite good and could be helpful to those interested in EDUCATION at a conservative cost.

    Monday, October 09, 2006

    Latest Survey comments

    14 responses today (10/9) - ALL in favor (5) One did say the price was too high and one was only "somewhat in favor," and 4 or 5 were through the Utah Educator Network IP; with the request for comments, many were posted - however the last one reverted to true from - "It's outdated"

    "standard answer" = (generally) Strongly support, the price is just right, location is great, sell old school. It surprising how many do not know how much the taxes will be. Answers range from a high of $1,000/yr to "not a doesn't matter! Education does!" (comments added below)

    Thanks for participating. ; - )

    2006-10-09 04:52:01 5 (strongly support) ***price too high *** Get the school off Main Street. Build a new high school big enough for future growth. $50.00 (A lot of comments on growth, why not just manage growth?)

    2006-10-09 07:53:14 standard answer

    2006-10-09 07:59:47 UEN? 5 ***just right *** Students need a clean, up to date learning environment. Just the necessary work needed to update wiring for computers is overwhelming. Labs should be current with up to date materials. The size of the school also needs to be exapanded to support the growth in our valley. $ not a doesn't matter! Education does! (How much work to do the wiring and who is doing it? Students may have some hands on learning by doing. How much work or cost will wiring the new school be?)

    2006-10-09 08:07:49 UEN standard answer Wasatch county is growing at a rapid rate. When new poeple move into a community it is necessary to provide new facilities for them,i.e. schools, roads annd even new stop lights ( and more roads, and schools and stoplights and . . . Who should pay for them? current residents or those creating the need?)

    2006-10-09 08:22:26 UEN std answer My children will be attending the high school in this valley, and I would like a structurally sound building for them to attend. By the time my children attend, this high school will be severly over crowded. $250 My high school had a nursery that the students could work in; it helped me make my decision about going into education. *** A gym is necessary. *** This is a great district and a great place to be. As a community we need to support (in every way) the education of the future generation.

    2006-10-09 09:18:52 std ans explosive population growth

    2006-10-09 09:40:58 UEN std ans A new high school will allow the district to better educate our children. As an example, science labs and computer labs are virtually non-existant in the current high school. A new facility will help us stay competitive educationally. *** As I understand the current plan, I feel they have included all essential elements. *** The benefits of the new facility. They are emphasizing the educational benefits of a new school. (You may have a point on the labs, is it possible to provide without a $60 million school?)

    2006-10-09 10:33:50 std ans Our children deserve facilities as good as other high schools. It is a very difficult job for the teachers to try to give comparable educational opportunities without the facilities necessary to do so. They need space to fully explore the arts, and music and sciences. *** Big cafeteria and commons area to keep students on campus during lunch! *** I think our teachers are doing a fabulous job despite the poor facilities. If we want to attract the best teachers we have to offer them great facilities also. ("as good as" or better than all others?)

    2006-10-09 10:43:38 UEN std ans The facilities and classrooms at the high school are inadequate for student needs (e.g. limited science labs, computer labs poor heating system, holes in the roof, etc), there are safety and evacuation concerns, the old school can't handle the growth the county is experiencing. *** Our biggest asset in this county is our children. We must invest in them now in order to get great returns later. (DUPLICATED - was it deemed that important, or simply trying to skew the poll, or merely an error?)

    2006-10-09 11:15:54 4 A new high school is necessary due to the delapidated state of the old school and the growth occuring in Wasatch County. *** I have some hesitation about the high school. For the cost, $59.5 million, I think we should be including a new rec / aquatic center as well. *** $1,000 *** I have some hesitation about the high school. For the cost, $59.5 million, I think we should be including a new rec / aquatic center as well. *** Wasatch county is a fast growing community. We need to recognize this a be prepared for the future. Our kids are worth the $ to not only build a new high school but also include a rec / aquatic center , to encourage and support them! (hesitation is good, do a little more analysis)

    2006-10-09 11:52:48 std ans Students working on sound or lighting are insturced not to touch the ceiling of the auditorium Why is that? well there are toxic things in that room. Things that are in the air that we breath. A new school would be for the best health of all who enter there. $I don't know *** I think it is about time we are building a new school. You have my support (If there are toxic things, why aren't the corrected? Where is the maintenance budget?)

    2006-10-09 11:53:53 std ans Wasatch County has a notoriously bad reputation when it comes to education. This is driving talented people away from the community, in search of easily attainable and much better options for their kids. Improving the county starts with a committment to education, which is lacking today. *** Public opinion of the county's commitment to education is that there is none. This reflects on the community as a whole, leaving the perception that our government and citizens are shortsighted and unsophisticated. Changing thisperception will benefit the county greatly over the long-term. (And you truly believe a new school is the answer to all edcucation problems?)

    2006-10-09 14:11:51 std ans We need new facilities. Curent one is far out dated. $800.00 *** (A familar litany
    ! Shouldn't an $800 cost give cause for concern? That's high, by the way)

    Saturday, October 07, 2006

    Building vs. Salary

    Some people have commented that education would be far better served by focusing on the educators (and students, of course) rather than the BUILDING.

    I heartlily agree with that sentiment. By focusing on a extravagant oversized school/community center, we, necessarily, place our money where our collective mouth is. Apparently, we value the bricks more than the educators. Again, why not put less money in a new building and more in enticing and rewarding more quality teachers. Expending excessive taxpayer money on buildings will make it even more difficult to garner support for better salaries. It all emanates from the same taxpayers' pockets.

    But some say a new school will draw "better" educators.

    Granted teachers (and students) might love a NEW school as we all might like NEW cars, clothes, houses, etc. Fiscal conservative (private and public) try to follow the philosophy of "Use it up, wear it out; make it do, or do without." Rational financial advisors recommend avoiding debt. That, IMO, includes private AND PUBLIC debt. $60 million is a substantial debt - $3,000 (plus interest - about $37 million over 21 years) for every man, woman and child in the county.

    Please do not be swayed by the "It's only a hamburger a day" type of argument. That's car salesmanship - "This car is only $299/month" (not $35,000) Don't fall for that appeal of the need to sacrifice: "in 1964, our people made a greater sacrifice" relative to property value. I think they may be comparing apples to oranges (see the next entry).

    There is a well organized group promoting the "selling" of the bond (apparently, teachers and parents of students, who certainly have every right to do so) See "Vote Yes for a new High School" or the Wasatch School District, which even has a fancy presentation called "sellfolio" but regrettably little information about the new school.

    These epistles are merely attempting to present a modicum of balance to the discussion. The school district and "Citizens for Better Education" do seem to have blinders on, IMO, and are simple selling the "car" by any gimmick possible and prefer to sell by emotion.

    Most regurgitated poll responses follow the same emotional litany:

    It's too old (Old is not bad, I'm considered old by some)
    The roof leaks (Fix the roof - didn't we do that?)
    crowded (not statistically, or that I could see)
    no space (Why is a classroom being used for storage?)
    outdated (Is Harvard outdated, Oxford is hundreds of years old - is it outdated? . . .)
    need more computers (How many do they need, how many do they have?)
    more science labs (that may be valid)
    Costs too much to remodel (how does anyone know, no analysis was done?)
    need "State of the art" (that changes daily, it seems)

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    Is the new high school too expensive?

    The Vote Yes for a new High School website has a list of "Frequently Asked Questions" (as the site is relatively know, how frequently could they have been asked?)

    #9 Poses this question - and "answer." Is the new high school too expensive? In 1964, the bond passed to build the current high school cost 17% of the value of all property in Wasatch County. The 2006 bond is only 3% of all property value. The building is not elaborate, but it is a sound educational design.

    So effectively they are saying, if you don't support this bond you are a cheapskate and not willing to support education the children. In actuality, this comparison doesn't answer the question and is irrelevant. BUT, are the figures even correct?

    An interesting little anomaly here. Cost, data and sources are not provided for their conclusion. According to the Wasatch County Offices the total property value for 1964 is not readily available, however the ASSESSED value record is available on microfilm (which was reportedly used to research the figures.)

    However, from 1961 - 1978 the Statutory Assessment Level (% of Market Value) was 30 %. Currently it is 100% (with a 45% residential exemption). See Property Tax History

    So, if assessed values are being used rather than market values, the cost of the 1964 school would have been more like 5% - if we compare apples to apples!!! What's that old adage - figures can lie, and . . . ?

    What was the price of the 1964 school used in the calculation? No number or source is given.

    What was the real assessed/ appraised/??? property values in Wasatch County in 1964?

    What is it today? (2005 WASATCH $1,888,743,778) Today, indeed, $60 million is 3%
    In 2000, total property value was $1,288,186,733

    How Large should a High School be?

    In addition to other information on School construction, the Utah State Office of Education provides a chart of Per Student Space Criteria.

    The recommendation for Senior High Schools with a 1500 student enrollment is 145 sq.ft./student or a total school area of 217,500 sq.ft.

    For 1,000 students they allow 155 sq.ft./student or a total school area of 155,000 sq.ft.

    Wasatch School is proposing 308,000 total area or beween 205 and 308 sq.ft./student.

    To further clarify, a note is added:
    For purposes of this table, Gross Square Feet is defined as the sum of the area on each floor level, measured in square feet from the exterior walls. It includes all rooms, corridors and storage areas, etc.

    50 % too large is 50% too expensive

    Saturday, September 30, 2006

    $60 Million & 308,000 Sq. Ft.

    Is this reasonable for Wasatch High School?

    Total Sq.Ft. - - - 308,000
    # Students - - - 1,500 capacity
    Cost - - - - - - - -$59,500,000

    $/Sq.Ft. - - - - - - $193.18
    $/Student -- - - - $39,667 at capacity, $59,500 at start up
    Sq.Ft./Student - - 205.3 at capacity, 308.0 at start up

    The 2006 School Construction Report (page 6) reports the following National Medians for High Schools:
    Total Sq.Ft.- - - 120,000
    # Students - - - -1,200
    Cost - - - - - - - - $30,000,000
    $/Sq.Ft. - - - - -- - $150.00
    $/Student - - - - - $25,333
    Sq.Ft./Student - - - 162.5

    The proposed Wasatch High is above the Medians by:
    Total Sq.Ft.- - - 156%
    # Students - - - -25%
    Cost - - - - - - - - 98%
    $/Sq.Ft. - - - - -- - 31%
    $/Student - - - - - 56% at capacity, 135% at start up
    Sq.Ft./Student - - - 26% at capacity, 90% at start up

    How does the proposal compare to other Utah High Schools?
    The Utah State Office of Education reports on school construction. Since 1999 they report the building of 15 High Schools, in Utah, as follows:

    Logan-------9,700----$900,000--mar 99------? - - - - -$92.78-------?----------?
    Parowan---17,964----$1,500,000--jun 99----366-------$83.50-----$4,098-----49
    Cedar City-233,199--$20,000,000-Aug 00---896------$85.76-----$22,321---260
    Tooele-----239,470--$16,736,000--aug 02---1824------$69.89-----$9,175---131
    StGeorge---27,382----$2,300,000-jun 00------?--------$84.00-------?----------?
    Murray----255,000--$24,000,000-jun 03 --1527------$94.12-----$15,717------167
    Granite -----58,000---$6,000,000-sep 02----?--------$103.45--------?---------?
    Duchesne----51,666---$4,300,000-sep 03----299------$83.23-----$14,381-----173
    Kaysville----321,344--$32,000,000-dec 04--2230-----$99.58----$14,350-----144
    Kearns------119,456----Donated---spring 03---?----------$0.00---------?----------?
    SLC----------71,273----$7,000,000-dec 03-----?--------$98.21--------?----------?
    StG----------61,000---$5,800,000-aug 06-----?--------$95.08--------?----------?
    Springville---30,805----$2,900,000-dec 04---1411------$94.14-----$2,055-----22
    Syracuse ----383,000--$38,000,000-apr 07----?--------$99.22--------?----------?

    School Bond Survey

    With a reasonable number of responses to the poll on Wasatch County growth, including many excellent comments; a poll was created concerning the proposed School Bond hoping to gain some more comments (pro and con) on the issue.

    The growth issue poll was, from its inception, overwhelmingly of the opinion that Wasatch has too much growth and is not doing well at managing it. The School bond received mixed responses of about 55% opposed to 35% favoring. At least until September 25 through 27, when 17 responses arrived. Remarkably, 11 were "Strongly in favor" of the Bond and most made a comment about the current school being outdated or old. On further analysis of the results, it was found that five of these responses came from the same IP address and four came from another.

    Lo and behold, the first IP ( was traced back to the "Utah Educational Network" The second (192.107.181.) is assigned to Utah Valley State College Org.

    On Wednesday, 9/27, two officials from the Wasatch County School District were interviewed on KTMP about education and school bond issues. After the online interview, this curious coincidence was mentioned to these individuals - with virtually no response.

    The next day (9/28), between 8:15 AM and 10:55PM, the poll received an astounding 87 responses to the survey - even more astounding, 80 were STRONGLY IN FAVOR, 4 were somewhat in favor and 2 were opposed, but only a few were sent from the above mentioned IP addresses.

    Are we now witnessing a spontaneous uprising of the masses in favor of better education of "the children" through bricks?

    Friday, the deluge continued with 49 "responses" with a mere three opposed. The capping finality occurred late in the evening. The last 13 of the evening were posted from 10:08:07 PM to 10:22:38 from the same IP (Comcast) (or computer?) 13 responses in 14 minutes shows a great deal of thought and consideration, doesn't it.

    Most of the comments indicated the belief that their taxes would GO DOWN! One respondent (who actually twice at 2006-09-29 22:11:30 AND at 2006-09-29 22:10:55) said "I have a house on an acre valued at $750,000, my taxes are only going up $16." Can anyone seriously believe a $60 million bond will NOT raise taxes?

    His (or their) other comments: "The cost per 100,000 is $3 less than the Heber Valley bond that was passed approximately 6 years ago, and we are getting $50 million more worth of building. The Heber Valley bond will be paid off 4 years earlier, and has gone from $81 per $100,000 property valuation to $18 per $100,000 property valuation. Please do your homework prior to using an internet survey macro. Give me a break. Math and statistics lab, so people like you who made a weak attempt at designing a survey, might be better educated through their children attending a state-of-the-art facility.

    This is a stupid survey. You don't ask any demographic questions, like whether I am on a fixed income or whether I am worth $2 million dollars. Don't you think this would have an impact on my answers. This is an example of the uneducated population in this valley, and just another reason to have a new high school so our future generations can appropriately design and execute a survey that evaluates objectively the local opinion."

    Shall we post the name of this poll taker???

    While all poll responses are appreciated, a little originality, logic and respect in the comments is strongly encouraged.

    The proponents of the School Bond now have a web site - Vote Yes for a New Wasatch High School. We would encourage everone to carefully weigh the issues and vote based on that careful analysis and not succumb to emotion. Here's an opportunity to offer an educational lesson for the children, by example, of the need to differentiate between NEEDS and WANTS.