Monday, January 25, 2010

SB President Kubit Posts High School Renovation FAQ

School Board President Ed Kubit has posted a series of frequently asked questions today to the High School Renovation section of the school district web site. Please take the time to read them and then come back here to discuss.

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Anonymous David Huston said...

Mr. Kubit failed to answer my question regarding reimbursement.

January 25, 2010 4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am encouraged by the school board post of FAQ. Thank you! Would we be able to ask, "Are taxes really going up 44.46% in the next few years?" There has been no mention of the teachers' contract that expires in June. Just a side note, the tax office told me two years ago that there were 10,479 "units" in Mt. Lebanon.
Elaine Gillen

January 25, 2010 6:13 PM  
Anonymous Bill Lewis said...

Sophistry on the school website will get you nowhere ! And answering "No" to every question is not helpful....of course the millage will not increase a precise 50%....we all know that...or even a precise 45%..or might increase by *only* say 40%. And then perhaps again by say 55% for some as a result of a county reassessment in 2012 where some properties might face a 60% assessment increase vs a Lebo average of 30%....or some with a 35% millage increase whose properties are reassessed at a 15% increase vs a Lebo average of 30%

And, the 2010-11 budget, for instance, will not result in a millage increase of precisely 14.1%either. This 14% figure was derived by the Finance Director as her estimate based on certain facts and assumptions, which she identified. The board will try to make it a lower figure....but it might come out higher due to current unknowns or uncontrollable factors. None of these things are cast in concrete yet, but they are valid indications of the trend and extent of what is coming at us down the pike.

And the HS figures are not fixed yet either....the $113 million cost estimate may have about as much chance of increasing as it has decreasing. Haven't site cost estimates alone just increased by $3 million, after going up a month ago by $2 million ? What costs have decreased since $113 million became the number ?

And where did the CM's "total renovation cost of $103 million" come from ? Is that the 2008/09 estimate for a renovation scheme discredited by the CAC ? And why repeat that discarded scheme when the District refused to cost out the CAC proposal in its entirety or even some of its non-threatening, component parts ?

Give us a break. We're not stupid.

January 25, 2010 8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of questions for Mr. Kubit and the Board:

1. Does the PTA leadership that wants to censor Director Fraasch for his opinions think its OK for Direcor Kubit to post his letter on the district website without posting Director Fraasch's letter as well?

2. Why does the Board insist on a budget that is at least $26 million over its needs?

3. How does Mr. Kubit account for the extra 68,000 sq.ft. that Bill Lewis identified in the PlanCon documents?

His response will be interesting, but here's the bottom line in case we don't get some answers in short order: There are inconsistencies and serious financial irregularities in the Act 34 project figures, and way too much sq. footage in the building plan. While the board will hopes for construction costs that come in under-budget, it is just as likely that overruns will happen. Then what?

I recall that Dr. Sable wanted a small, tight building with a focused, but rigorous curriculum. Our project will result in the exact opposite -- regardless of the tax implications.

"Things that you go, hmmmmm..."

Mark Hart

January 25, 2010 10:44 PM  
Blogger Dave Franklin said...

I'm surprised that in a community that places a value on education and the free exchange of ideas that there are individuals in our community seeking the removal or censure of Mr. Fraasch. It would be particularly troubling if such individuals are affiliated with the PTA. For the record, I've received unsolicited emails from a couple Board members (and at least one Board member's spouse). At least one other Board member has a blog on which she freely posts her opinions etc. So what?

Whether you agree with Mr. Fraasch or not , when did having an opinion as a political official become a bad thing?

I know I'm probably overly optimistic to assume that someone who is proposing the censure of Mr. Fraasch would speak up here to explain his/her reasons, but I would love to hear them.

As encouraged by the Board's recent posting, I have submitted some follow-up questions for their consideration. I am looking forward to their response.

January 25, 2010 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Bill Lewis said...

I'm sorry...the more I carefully read the subject posting on the District website, the more sophistry I find. I'm beginning to conclude that the author may not be the sole author, at least in its entirety. A few more examples:

1)the reaction to the 14% tax increase ...just 2 weeks ago the reaction of the pres. to the 14% was recorded to be " we are going to have to look at cutting staff, priortizing programs and CLOSING SCHOOLS !". Now it's not to worry, initial estimates have never happened. Who served the Kool-Aid ?

2)where-what is the 30,000 sq.ft. increase ? Still not answered....we don't want *edu-babble*, non-specific answers. We want and deserve an itemized list and full explanation ! What flavor was the Kool-Aid ?

3)cost comparisons with neighboring school districts (ie. USC, Baldwin)....the CM's own figures show that the deciding difference is our high, and growing ever higher, site costs -- our now $16 million vs their $3-$4 million---which are our design driven cost premiums. Did not the CAC design recommendations (that the district refuses to cost out much less even consider)require far, far less site work and cost ? Were cookies served also ?

4)the HS Project to cost EACH Lebo RESIDENT $10,000 ?...perhaps it was meant to be Residence, not Resident ?--- the argument is flawed anyway. The cost to the taxpayers, the tax that we will pay is the total debt service cost of the the bond financing over the full, scheduled terms of the bonds....a district gross number of over $180 million. Subtract from that the now only 8% state reimbursement, which amounts to roughly $14 million, and the net cost to taxpayers is about $166 million. Next, there are a little over 14,000 residential housing units in Lebo...almost 11,500 single family, and about 3,500 multi-family, largely rental units. You can divide $166 million by 14,000 and come up with a so-called average of $11,857 per housing or dwelling unit, but a far more appropriate calculation for taxpayer understanging and reference would be to convert the entire net debt service to total mills over the bond term, and assign that cost to a dwelling unit, or any property, per $100,000assessed value ...based on 1 mill generating the current $2.0715 million. That yields :
$100,000 assessment= $8,024 in tax
$200,000 " = $16,048 "
$300,000 " = $24,072 "
$400,000 " = $32,072 "
Were the servings *supersized* ?

Give us a break. We're not stupid. I could peel the onion some more, but there are tears enough.

January 25, 2010 11:24 PM  
Anonymous Matt Hausmann said...

Let me start out by stating up front that I do believe we need to address the HS...I just think that we are not on the right track at the moment.

That said, another item I would like to point out: in the website posting there is a question of whether our taxes are higher (millage rates) versus other districts. Though the answer of Mt. Lebanon being ranked 12th is technically correct, it is a flawed response. Why? Simply look at the other districts with higher millage rates. They are, in general, either small districts with a very limited tax base or distressed districts. This is not a fair comparison.

When compared to other "high performing" districts (e.g., NA, Pine-Richland), Mt. Lebanon does have the highest millage rate. In fact, it is substantially higher than in most of these districts; only Upper St. Clair is close. (Guess it's that old rivalry at play!)

Again, I do think we need to do something about the HS. I just get the sense we are not on the right track.

January 26, 2010 9:16 AM  

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