Arkansas Facilities Scam
Will Cost Taxpayers Billions
Topics in this article in this order: Documentation Provided Throughout Article.
On Nov. 30, 04, the Educational Facilities Committee released the long awaited figure of 2.3 billion for the cost of providing adequate and equal facilities for all schools in Arkansas according to outside experts. The five year projection was $4.5 billion. ( see below to see how deceptively low even these astronomical figures are). To put that $2.3 billion dollar figure in perspective it would probably take a 2% sales tax increase for 10 years to pay for that amount without including all the other needs in Arkansas. Arkansas was one of the three states in the country that raised taxes by more than 5 percent so far this year. (For the Arkansas facilities report, see http://www.arkansasfacilities.com/pdf/StateReport/StateReport.pdf p. 50.) See "Building America’s Schools: State Efforts to Address School Facility Needs" for article on Arkansas one in three states to raise taxes by morethan 5 percent http://www.nga.org/cda/files/000620SCHOOLNEEDS.pdf -
Arkansas To Replace Half the School Buildings In Arkansas?
On the last day of the last legislative session Act 90 was slipped through that takes authority from the local school board and community to make decisions about their school buildings and puts it into the hands of a division of the State Department. The State Department will prioritize and control all improvements, buildings, and equipment spending IN THE STATE. In essence, the state now owns all the school buildings in Arkansas. (See copy of law at: http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/ftproot/acts/2003s2/public/act90.pdf )
It appears the state intends to replace about half the buildings in Arkansas just like they did in West Virginia (without any input from the people except for their money, of course). The committee said it would cost about $8.3 billion to replace all the school buildings so $4.5 billion is about half of that figure.
. Arkansas is following the steps of West Virginia, another poor state which passed a facilities law and increased spending per student more than any other state in the nation during the last decade. The facilities legislation and massive consolidation were the two state programs that contributed most significantly to that increased spending in West Virginia. “According to a report by the Federal Government Accounting Office, in 1996, 42 percent of schools in West Virginia needed total replacement or extensive repair. This high need for repair or replacement of school buildings, combined with the SBA criteria ensured school consolidation through the 1990s.". See how consolidation plays into the picture below. (From “A Decade of Consolidation: Where Are the Savings? by Cynthia Reeves. For several articles in W. V. Gazette on closing costs of consolidation. See “Closing costs, Bus situation intolerable, Aug. 30, 02 at http://www.wvgazette.com/section/Series/Closing+Costs/200210223) -
Compare these figures in W. Virginia to the ones in the report released Nov. 30, 04 in Arkansas, p. 14 of the report. “The life expectancy of most buildings systems is less than 40 years... 40.2% of the buildings [in Arkansas] were constructed prior to 1970 or are 35 years of age or older.” This fits the same pattern in W. Virginia - 40.2% in Arkansas have reached their life span, 42 percent in W. Virginia. (See AR Facilities report p. 14 at http://www.arkansasfacilities.com/pdf/StateReport/StateReport.pdf )
Other States Are Tearing Down Perfectly Good School Buildings
An Ohio legislator reported that they are tearing down perfectly good school buildings in Ohio under a similar plan and replacing them. In Washington, D.C. they are having the same problems and have had to put up a big battle to keep them from tearing down even their historical buildings.
In Pendleton County, West Virginia, a total of $10 million in renovations and new construction was spent to close Circleville School. Students were bused over a 4,000 foot mountain to school in Franklin, the county seat. Meanwhile, Circleville residents renovated the old Circleville School as a community center for just $200,000. (See “Pendleton school could have been fixed up, some say,” by Eric Eyre http://wvgazette.com/section/Series/Closing+Costs/2002092811 )
In a dispute over Glenrock School in Wyoming, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Trent Blankenship is quoted as saying, "I can't for the life of me understand why we'd tear this building down and pay $6 million for a middle school. How does that serve anyone?" Blankenship pointed out that if maintaining the schools costs $100,000 a year, and Oregon Trail would cost $6.2 million to renovate, it would take 62 years to break even. Grant said that when Blankenship toured the schools, he commented on the beautiful elementary and middle school -- and seemed surprised when he learned they were to be razed. See “Dispute erupts over Glenrock schools” Star Tribune, Casper, WY, 5-20-04
“DeJong [Contractor and expert for assessment in Arkansas] said that if the repair cost reaches 65 percent of the replacement cost — termed a facility cost index of 65 — that building usually should be replaced.” ( Dec. 1, 04 Arkansas Democrat Gazette.) That is probably the basis on which Glenrock School came up for replacement.
Facilities Committee Figures Can't Be Accurate
Will 15% Sale Tax Do It?
The figures the Arkansas Facilities Committee has given, even the 4.5 billion, is not even close to accurate according to costs in other states. The 2.3 billion is already two years out of date by the time the legislature can act and start construction since the figure is based on July 04 costs; and there have already been exorbitant increases in building materials. Steel prices have increased from 60 to 200% So the 2.3 billion figure as given is already well on its way to the 4.5 billion five year projection for cost of repair & replacement. This figure does not include the purchase of land for growing districts and is based on figures before the exorbitant price increases in building materials that Arkansas will face. ( For article on increased costs in Ohio see “Surging steel prices squeezing school building projects.” The Beacon Journal, Ohio.com http://www.ohio.com/mld/beaconjournal/news/state/9608246.htm?1c )
Bill DeJong, the consultant hired to lead the study in Arkansas, told the committee on November 30 that the actual costs were always higher in the long run than the assessment cost projection. Bill DeJong should know. A short time ago he was the overseer for Washington D.C.’s Facilities Master’s Plan. That final assessment figure was $2 billion for a number of students equaling 1/6 of the students in Arkansas. That figure in D. C. has already ballooned to over 3.5 billion in a short period of time according to their 2003 report. That is 175% of the original final assessment. Multiply the 4.5 billion by the same increase (175%), and the figure is $7.9 billion for Arkansas which is probably a more realistic beginning figure than the one the committee gave on Nov. 30. ( For Washington, D. C. figures, See page 6 of Proposed FY 2005-2010 Capital Improvement Program at http://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:zWive0b-kNIJ:www.k12.dc.us/dcps/budget/fy05docs/CIPfulldoc.pdf+Proposed+CIP+FY+05+FY10+Fall+2003&hl=en )
According to the Ohio Columbus Dispatch, the assessment for adequate facilities price tag in Ohio in 1997 came back as $16.5 billion dollars but ballooned to $23.1 billion by 1999 -140% increase in 2 years. (See “Taft school plan: Fix them” Ohio Columbus Dispatch Sept. 10, 1999. http://www.afaar.org/Facilities%20-%20Ohio%20%2016.5%20billion%20-%2023%20billion.htm)
DeJong has listed on his website several other projects he completed that show how much higher the actual construction costs were per student than the figure he gave for Arkansas. In Nevada a building project for a county school district was $6.3 billion for 59% of the number of students as in Arkansas; $4.5 billion was the price tag for six urban schools projects in Ohio with 49% of the number of students as in Arkansas - $4.5 billion was the five year projection for Arkansas with twice that number of students. (See http://www.djainc.com/recentprojects.htm for description of these projects. Also see p. 50 of the Arkansas Report for the $4.5 billion. )
And these $2.3 billion and $4.5 billion Arkansas figures do not include the unattached equipment. The Joint Committee on Educational Facilities voted on May 13, 04 to establish a committee to oversee the assessing of all the “unattached equipment” (including items that cost less than $1,000) so all the supplemental material and equipment in schools can be made adequate and equal for all schools in Arkansas. On home insurance, the personal property (unattached equipment) is often valued at 70% of the value of the building. Will the unattached equipment add 70% more to the facilities expenses. In their unattached needs report, the report included golfing equipment as needed equipment for physical education. In another state they included swimming pools. As Meredith Oakley said in her column, “Do you think 15 percent [sales tax] will do it?” ( See article, “Unattached Equipment Asssessment – More Taxes” Another Facilities Assessment and More Taxes,” on unattached equipment at http://www.afaar.org/Facilities%20-%20Unattached%20Equipment.htm )
Propaganda Technique for Facilities Scam
How Realistic is the $2.3 Billion Figure?
How realistic is the $2.3 billion figure? At first Senator Broadway, the committee, and the media led citizens to believe the cost of facilities might be as much as 1 billion, then we began hearing 2 billion and then 3 billion. That was to get people used to the big bucks it would take. On November 30, 04, they have gone to the $2.3 billion ( which is still not realistic) to help citizens wade out into bigger bucks. The $4.5 billion figure is included in the report to get us used to even bigger bucks, but the real cost will be more like the $7. 9 billion figure outlined above.
This is just a propaganda game they are playing with citizens of Arkansas. There is no way the leaders of the Facilities committee like Senator Broadway, Senator Bisbee and Rep. Joyce Elliott, and Governor Huckabee could not have known the cost was far greater than they were pretending. Senator Broadway did research into the states that have the facilities laws. The overseer of the assessment in Arkansas, Bill DeJong, has been involved on a massive scale in these projects in West Virginia, Ohio, Washington, D. C. and many other places. DeJong told the committee Nov. 30, 04 that the cost for facilities in Ohio was 23.1 billion. He had to know that information when he was hired because this is a 1999 figure. DeJong was interviewed for the job in Arkansas by the committee back in November, 03 before the law was passed in February, 04. Is anyone naive enough to believe he didn’t tell Senator Broadway those figures earlier. And if DeJong did not tell him, I told Senator Broadway personally and sent him the Columbus Dispatch article outlining these facts. If the committee didn’t investigate these figures, then they are incompetent and irresponsible for moving Arkansas into this area without proper investigation.
Facilities Issue Will Dominate Session. According to Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Dec. 1, 04 “Broadway has said the facilities issue will be the top priority of the 2005 General Assembly, which convenes Jan. 10.” If parents and teachers were surveyed, the need for new building structures would be very low on the list of concerns that parents have for their children’s education. Numerous schools and homes are older than 40 years. These schools have been updated and repaired and renovated to a great degree along the way and provide just as suitable, comfortable, and pleasant environments as newer ones.
In Kansas City, Missouri, “Despite the two billion taxpayer dollars that poured into the district over 23 years of court-ordered desegregation, the system lost its state accreditation in 1999. The money was primarily spent on magnet schools and state-of-the-art facilities, while curriculum and teacher quality lagged. Education Week (4-26-00) reported that, during the accreditation evaluation, the school district ‘failed every one of 11 indicators’ in the ‘performance’ category, which examines student test scores, dropout and attendance rates, and measures of college and vocational preparation. Kansas City School Board Treasurer Helen Ragsdale lamented: ‘We're not any better off than we were 23 years ago.’” – (“Kansas City’s Troubled Schools, Education Reporter # 180. Jan. 2001” http://www.eagleforum.org/educate/2001/jan01/math-fad.shtml
This facilities takeover is just a scam for the government to take control of all the schools in Arkansas and to implement more consolidation, taxes, and bureaucracy.. The Ohio Schools Facilities Commission started with one person and now employees 50 people. The committee’s actions are just beginning the propaganda program to convince people how bad Arkansas’s school buildings are so they can squeeze more money from the taxpayers. Again, this has only happened in states where the Court set out to take over the schools and facilities. Very few states have cooperated as fully with the courts in their takeover as has Arkansas’s governor and legislature. Arkansas is much farther along the road of centralization and socialism than the majority of other states. In fact, they are leading the way. The joint facilities committee discussed on November 30, 04 the fact that Arkansas is leading the way and other states are looking at Arkansas to see how they handle this matter.
Arkansas state government continues to grow with over 50,024 state employees, the largest employer in Arkansas. Oklahoma has over 800,000 more residents and 14,000+ fewer state employees. Tennessee has nearly double our population and 6,000 fewer state employees. Texas has 9 times the population but only 275,000 total state employees – ratio of almost half the employees in ARKANSAS.
Consolidation, Round 2, Senator Bisbee Says
The law will enable more consolidation just like it did in West Virginia. It is obvious that more consolidation is one of the major goals of this legislation just as it was in West Virginia and Ohio and Oregon. The facilities report did studies on the number of square feet allotted to each student and indicated that many square feet were being wasted in small schools because they had more square feet per student than needed. To be efficient then some of those small schools will need to be closed and new ones built. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? Or when they rebuild these small schools, they will have to consolidate them in order to be more efficient with their square feet per student. In other words, after spending millions to rebuild some schools, they will have less space than before. I am sure we would like someone to manage our homes and finances for us that way.
The following quotes illustrate just what part consolidation will play in the debate. "There’s a few buildings where there may be 100 students or 150 students in a 60,000- or 70,000-square-foot building," said Bill DeJong of Dublin, Ohio, the consultant hired to lead the study. ( Democrat Gazette, Dec.1, 04) "It’s just not efficient, not effective, "We’ve got to look at utilization [of space]… If districts don’t utilize their space to the maximum, the state could force the issue,” (Arkansas News Bureau, Dec. 5, 04) The Arkansas Democrat Gazette on Dec. 9 reported, “Also on public schools, the governor said that ‘many of us would feel comfortable’ in giving school districts the ultimatum to pay their share for school upgrades or be consolidated so school funds can be spent more efficiently.”
That is analogous to the government telling a home owner of a $100,000 house that his house was not sufficient/efficient and that he had to upgrade it to a $200,000 house, but the homeowner had to come up with the funds. Those schools were built with homeowners’ property taxes. They don’t belong to the state.
Where Will The Money Go and Will It Improve Education?
Added Transportation Costs & Long Bus Rides in Arkansas & W. VA.
Where did the money go in West Virginia? “Much of it went to transport students longer distances to bigger schools farther from home. Already high in 1990, after-inflation transportation costs rose 10 percent by 2000 when they consumed seven percent of the state's education spending, more than any other state.
And incredibly, while consolidation promoters had promised that new and bigger buildings were supposed to cost less to maintain and operate, expenditures for those purposes jumped 11 percent, or 25 percent if measured on a per pupil basis. Even as West Virginia increased per pupil spending more than any state in the nation, its student test scores and graduation rates remained near or below national averages. And in 2000, West Virginia topped the nation in the percentage of teenagers neither in school nor employed.” (See “Where Are the Savings? West Virginians Want to Know” http://www.ruraledu.org/rpm/rpm603b.htm. For several newspaper articles on West Virginia’s disastrous experiment with consolidation and facilities see “Closing costs Bus situation intolerable, Charleston Gazette August 30, 02 http://www.wvgazette.com/section/Series/Closing+Costs/200210223
Of course, the Arkansas report on facilities contained nothing about how any savings that could possibly come from consolidating for efficiency would be offset by increased transportation cost. The Charleston Gazette “found that the number of children who ride school buses more than two hours a day doubled during the 1990s, even as West Virginia’s number of students declined greatly. …West Virginia spends 7 percent of its education budget on transportation, more than any other state in the nation. The wave of consolidations in the 1990s drove up those costs. Four counties spend more than 10 percent of their budgets on busing. Gilmer County spends more than $1,000 per student on transportation…
The costs are more than financial. These long bus rides make kids tired, cranky and hard to teach. Research shows that excessive bus rides may even harm children’s health, exposing them to unsafe levels of diesel exhaust. The kids have less time for family, homework and a social life, said a researcher who studied Canadian children with long rides. Other researchers have found that students with long bus rides score lower on standardized tests. (Closing costs Bus situation intolerable, Charleston Gazette, August 30, 02 http://www.wvgazette.com/section/Series/Closing+Costs/200210223)
The Rural School and Bus Rides in Five States study conducted by Dr. Craig Howley, August 10, 2001 before the first round of consolidation in Arkansas “found that the situation was worst in Arkansas… one in three schools have longest rides of an hour or more each way… According to the "rough ride" metric, Arkansas students experience the roughest rides. . The prevalence of risk factors in Arkansas is consistently higher than in the other states… Howley found that school bus rides were worst for children from the poorest communities, where rides of an hour or more each way were 75 percent more frequent, and "double routing" was one-third more.” (For summary of Howley’s study - Rural Bus Rides, Study finds it’s a long, rough road see http://www.ruraledu.org/rpm/rpm309c.htm For long original study see http://oak.cats.ohiou.edu/~howleyc/bus2.htm
Facilities Bill and Doomsday Law
Some legislators say this facilities report with is recommended expenditures is inconsequential since they don’t plan to vote to increase taxes for it anyway. (They earlier said the same thing about consolidation by number but voted for it in the end.) They must have also forgotten about the “doomsday law” law (Act 108) they passed this last session, initiated by Senator Broadway as Senate Bill 93. Arkansas must provide all the money needed for education adequacy in Arkansas or it will be taken from other departments. Arkansas News Bureau reported on Feb. 22, 04 that “Act 108 of the second special session of 2003 requires the state treasurer to cut back on all state spending if a new fund for education, the "educational adequacy trust fund," begins to run short.” The educational fund was created by Act 108.
The legislators basically passed this doomsday law (Act 108) to blackmail other people and departments to support increased taxes for education in the last session. On January 29, 04 the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported, “In case no taxes are increased, the Senate passed a bill [SB 93, Act 108] Wednesday that one senator said has a ‘doomsday paragraph.’ It would send money to schools by cutting funding for other state agencies. Fearing this possibility, college presidents and others who could be affected went to the Capitol to lobby legislators for tax increases. ‘We have got a lot more folks interested in taxes today than we did yesterday,’ said Sen. Dave Bisbee, R-Rogers.” Passage of the law was also a great help in getting taxes to support education passed in the House, Hathorn said. [Mike Hathorn, D-Huntsville]”, reported Arkansas Bureau News, 2-22-04. I understand Arkansas is the only state that has ever passed a law like this doomsday law.
Legislators Snookered Into Passing Facilities Bill, Act 90
The facilities language in Act 90 that eventually passed was included in Senator Argue’s consolidation bill, SB 28, in HB 1106 by Calvin Johnson’s consolidation bill and then in Jodie Mahoney's HB 1119. It was voted down these three times. Then it was slipped in Picket’s HB 1009 which passed the last day of session, Feb. 6, 2004. Only four senators didn’t vote for the bill. These four were as follow:
Sixty-eight representatives voted for the bill, and 32 voted against or didn’t vote. (See end of this report for voting record on all senators and representatives.)
This Facilities bill passed the House at 10:19 and the Senate at 3:49 on the last day of the session, Feb. 6, 04 after suspending rules to make it possible to do it in this manner. There were seven versions of this bill with six amendments that went back and forth from house to senate before final vote so it was all very confusing to many legislators who were concentrating on the consolidation bills. An interesting note here: The program manager proposals (applications) for the overseer of the assessment (where DeJong was chosen) were reviewed in November 2003, three months before the law was passed. Someone was very confident they would get it done one way or the other. (This last statement is documented in an e-mail from legislative aide, March 18, 04.)
Expect Corruption in State Oversight of Facilities
Bill Fischer – Good Example
To top all this, the Facilities Committee headed by Senator Broadway hired Randall Fischer, former director of the Ohio School Facilities Commission, to be in charge of the bidding for the assessment in Arkansas. Fischer has a criminal ethics conviction in Ohio which caused his resignation there. Fischer and DeJong appear to have had a corrupt relationship in Ohio. As Director of Facilities, Fischer gave DeJong & Associates, now Arkansas’s Facilities Program Manager, “unbid consulting contracts for more than $4 million primarily to conduct assessments and determine the facility needs of school districts receiving state construction money.”( Ohio Columbus Dispatch Sept 6, 2002.) Now that Fischer can no longer work in Ohio, DeJong took care of him by hiring him to take the bids in Arkansas. See this link for DeJong and Fischer alliance in Ohio:. http://www.wpaag.org/Fischer%20%20Fischer%20&%20%20DeJong%20%20Connection.htm
Fischer was involved in a number of other events that illustrate the corruption that occurs when one or a few people are put in charge of billions of dollars. His escapades furnished the Ohio Columbus Dispatch with headline stories for a couple of years before his career ended there. ( For these articles go to www.afaar.org and look under new items for “Convicted School Official Lands Job in Arkansas with Facilities Committee” or go to this link:
Superintendents have already discovered several errors in the experts’ mapping, growth projections, cost of repairing buildings, etc. in the assessment which was done by district and by school. (For link for specific campus, district and state, see http://www.facilitymaps.state.ar.us/)
Arkansas Motto “The People Rule” Being Trampled
Certain powerful legislators and the governor are doing the same thing with the citizens now that was done to the legislators, trying to snooker them and get them so far into this facilities building program that there will be no turning back. Then citizens will be forced to support outrageous building programs in Arkansas and will lose all local control over even their school buildings.
Arkansas was one of the three states in the country that raised taxes by more than 5 percent so far this year, according to the study by the National Conference of State Legislatures according to the Arkansas News Bureau, July 21, 04. After this 5% tax increase, “ In regard to [Arkansas] education reforms enacted recently by the Legislature and governor, 60 percent of the survey respondents predicted that education achievement would either decline or stay the same...." (Cynthia Howell article in Arkansas Democrat Gazette April 30, 04 There is no way the people of Arkansas want this takeover of school facilities and the added taxes spawned by the Court. What happened to the Arkansas motto, “The people rule.”
How To Stop This Tax Increase of Billions
and Prevent Takeover of Schools
The only solution for the citizens to stop this court and government control in this area and others is to rise up in revolt and do as Alabama did last year when they rejected a much smaller 1.2 billion dollar tax increase by a 2 to 1 margin. Oregon’s tax initiate called The Mother of All Tax Cut Votes, put three initiatives on the ballot. One would require state and local governments to put most new or increased taxes and fees that exceed inflation to a public vote. After they developed their network in Oregon they have been successful in passing several tax initiatives. We must do the same. The courts and the governor can’t fund their government takeover without money. Citizens also should put pressure on the legislators to repeal this facilities bill Act 90 and give control of the school buildings back to the community who paed for them and own them. The state has already spent 10 million for the expert assessment, but that is chicken feed compared to the billions they will be spending in the future.
Voters trounce Measure 30 http://news.statesmanjournal.com/article.cfm?i=74878 ;
Also see Quick Summary of Tax Initiative http://www.pahrumpsucks.com/page52.html;
Also see Tax Cut Fever - States, Citizens Take Initiatives to the Ballot- The Mother of All Tax Cut Votes, however, occurs in Oregon http://www.cnponline.org/Issue%20Briefs/Statelines/statelin1000.htm; Also see Dust Settles on Alabama Tax Vote http://www.gopusa.com/news/2003/september/0911_alabama_taxp.shtml
Interesting Quotes from Major Players in this Facilities Plan
The Arkansas Democrat Gazette on Dec. 9 reported, “Also on public schools, the governor said that ‘many of us would feel comfortable’ in giving school districts the ultimatum to pay their share for school upgrades or be consolidated so school funds can be spent more efficiently.”
It's not a pleasant topic, but it's a realistic topic because it involves people's money," Huckabee said. "This one involves their money, too." …Huckabee, whose consolidation plan was dead on arrival at the Legislature, noted that this time he did not raise the issue. …"That's what's going to make the dynamic of this different," he said. "This is a topic the Legislature has raised. This was their study, their task force. They've done an excellent job." Arkansas News Bureau, Dec. 5, 04
Senator Broadway, Co-Chair of Facilities Committee
“ I expected conditions to be worse and the price higher.” AETN Program Nov. 30,04. (Note:
“This is a great opportunity for our state and we must seize it, not only because of Lake View but for our children,” Broadway said. Times Record Oct. 1, 04.
“Broadway has said the facilities issue will be the top priority of the 2005 General Assembly, which convenes Jan. 10.” Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Dec. 1, 04
“Such an assessment would have to be
done district by district, he said.
"’Consolidation, Round Two,’" said Sen. Dave Bisbee, R-Rogers, during the meeting, predicting the continuation of the acrimonious debate over school district reorganization that permeated state Capitol politics throughout 2003 and into 2004.” Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Dec. 1, 04.
"There are a bunch of little schools in large school systems that are going to have to be consolidated," Bisbee said. "We’ve got to look at utilization [of space]." Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Dec. 1, 04.
“If districts don't utilize their space to the maximum, the state could force the issue,” Bisbee said. Arkansas News Bureau, Dec. 5,04.
John S. Copas, Chair of Executive Com of the Task Force
There is a lot more to this report than just the report. He said we had a set of facility standards that were only 4 sheets long, and now we have a set of standards that are 400 to 500 pages long.
Bill DeJong, the expert and overseer of the assessment
in Arkansas and overseer of many projects in other states,
“Economically, it also generates jobs, it generates income, it generates taxes, and it also has a tremendous economic stimuli.” He said “we need to look at the macro picture. Does it help provide more equity? The answer is probably yes. Does it provide opportunity to improve the educational system ? The answer is probably yes.” AETN Program Nov. 30,04
"There’s a few buildings where there may be 100 students or 150 students in a 60,000- or 70,000-square-foot building," said Bill DeJong of Dublin, Ohio, the consultant hired to lead the study. "It’s just not efficient, not effective." Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Dec. 1, 04.
“DeJong said legislators should expect the price tag to grow by the time they decide to refurbish the schools. He said that’s because the cost estimates are based on information collected this year and inflation isn’t included.” Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Dec. 1, 04.
“DeJong said that if the repair cost reaches 65 percent of the replacement cost — termed a facility cost index of 65 — that building usually should be replaced.” Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Dec. 1, 04.
“Arkansas has 78.8 million permanent school square footage, or about 8 million more square feet than is required, said William DeJong, whose firm served as the study's program manager.’ ‘You've got too much space in some parts of the state and too little in other parts,’ DeJong said…. ‘At some point you've got to draw a line in the sand as far as what it is that you're going to do,’ DeJong told lawmakers last week.” Arkansas News Bureau, Dec. 5, 04
“DeJong pointed out that districts in poor states of repair generally are also districts with declining enrollments and a surplus of square feet per student.” [Consolidation is indicated here.] Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Dec. 1, 04.
"’I have always expected the facilities study would be a catalyst for the consolidation debate,’ House Speaker designate Bill Stovall, D-Quitman, said Friday.” Arkansas News Bureau, Dec. 5, 04
Newspaper quotes on the Actual Report
LITTLE ROCK - Last week's school building study dropped eye-popping bottom lines on state lawmakers, but it also pointed to issues that could result in another push for school mergers… The 72-page Arkansas Statewide Educational Facilities Assessment report breaks down the cost of all 6,600 school buildings in a variety of ways. Not only does it estimate rehabilitation costs of $2.8 billion in immediate needs growing to at total of $4.5 billion in five years. Meanwhile, low enrollment districts require more square footage per-student, the report note because such things as cafeterias and media centers are still necessary…
Out of the state's 254 school districts, 221 of them have more than 160 square feet per student, the report shows. Of those, there are 141 school districts that have more than 200 square feet per student, and 50 of those have 250 square feet or more. .. The report recommends that buildings be replaced when the cost passes 60 percent. ..Of the 50 school districts with the highest percentages, 40 have fewer than 1,500 students, according to the study. Small districts also made up 34 of the 50 school districts in the best state of repair, however. Arkansas News Bureau, Dec. 5, 04
Facilities Law, Act 90 which was HB 1009
Senate Vote Feb. 4, 2004
Senate Vote - HB1009
AN ACT TO CREATE THE DIVISION OF PUBLIC SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY AND THE DIVISION OF PUBLIC SCHOOL ACADEMIC FACILITIES; TO REQUIRE THE REALIGNMENT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.
Not Voting: 4
House Vote - HB1009
AN ACT TO CREATE THE DIVISION OF PUBLIC SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY AND THE DIVISION OF PUBLIC SCHOOL ACADEMIC FACILITIES; TO REQUIRE THE REALIGNMENT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.
Not Voting: 21
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Debbie Pelley, Iris Stevens, et al
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