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UCPS shaves $153.5 million off county debt capacity

UCPS Superintendent Dr. Ed Davis, at right, discusses the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for 2010-2015 with UCPS Associate Superintendent Dr. Mike Webb in preparation for Tuesday’s (January 19, 2010) Board of Education meeting.

“When we were in a period of high growth, we articulated the needs for new schools, renovations and additions very strongly and clearly. Now that we are not in this high growth mode, I feel that we need to continue to be good stewards of our county’s tax dollars, and we must articulate just as strongly our needs as they are reflective of where we are now as far as growth and the economic downturn goes,” said Superintendent Ed Davis at the January 19 school board meeting.
“We must look at the 2009-2010 schools budget in a holistic manner, realizing that current expense and capital needs come out of the same pot of county dollars,” he said. He then proceeded to show the school board how the school district plans to shave off $153.5 million of the county’s debt capacity over the next several years.
Last month the school board approved the Facilities Committee’s recommendation to adjust the 2009 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to remove the construction of Middle School / High School E, Elementary School M and Central Academy stadium from the 2009 CIP. It was also recommended that Middle School / High School D be delayed one year to open in August 2014.
At the January 19 meeting Davis reported that further adjustments had been made to the CIP and recommended that the Sun Valley High School classroom additions and the Middle/High School D be completely removed from the five year CIP. He further recommended reductions in transportation, mobile units, bond administration costs, and costs escalations all to the tune of about $153.5 million.
The school board also approved the Comprehensive Facilities Plan (CFP) for the next six years. This plan is the result of a facilities study that has taken place over the past 12 months. The study was commissioned by the board to involve all 53 schools’ site based management teams, professional engineers along with central services staff and the Facilities Committee. The study identified overall needs in excess of $280 million.
The Facilities Committee and Dr. Mike Webb, Associate Superintendent for Building and Facilities, and his staff have worked to pare down this list of needs and develop a more manageable six-year CFP. The CFP was pared down to $110 million. It was developed by looking at the American Disabilities Act compliance, structural issues, safety concerns, equity issues and operating efficiencies, as well as realigning the projects with the cluster building blitz that began two years ago, but was suspended with the downturn of the economy. The CFP funding request will come through the county’s Capital Improvement Plan.
Webb told the school board that the plan would serve as a blue print for the next several years for the system’s 53 school facilities. “The Plan has to be fluid, flexible and funded. It will become a line item on the CIP,” Webb said. “There are many projects that did not make the plan and are still out on the shelf, but we feel good about the plan, especially for years one, two and three. Years four, five and six are more fluid because of the difficulty in future cost projections and priority or emergency needs.”
“Since I came to UCPS central services in 2000 as an assistant superintendent, we have opened 23 new schools that have required many, many millions of tax dollars. It actually feels good to be going to the county for the first time to say that our capital decreases far out weigh our capital budget request increases,” said Davis. “ I just hate that this time has come as a result of an economic downturn that has negatively impacted so many of our families.”

Written by: Luan Ingram, UCPS Chief Communications Officer
Posted: Jan 20, 2010 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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