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Yesterday’s School Board Discussion Proved Why Taking More Time on the Bond Was a Good Idea

What was the one thing that almost everyone agreed on about this November’s school bond? Tearing down Treasure Mountain Junior High. Now, some people didn’t want it moved. Other’s thought perhaps it should have a different makeup. However, generally people agreed… THE CURSED SCHOOL MUST BE RAISED!

A month later, maybe not.

During yesterday’s school board meeting, Facilities Administrator Todd Hansen and acting Superintendent (and Business Administrator) Todd Hauber gave an assessment of Treasure Mountain Junior High (TMJH). The intent was to provide more information to the board about how to proceed with the school’s needs. What was message? Well, if you were Mr Hansen you think the school should have been demolished yesterday but if you were Todd Hauber you would recommend letting the school live out its 50 year plan by staying in service for 15 more years.

To be fair, this was a facilities assessment and it was not based on programming, comforts, or alleged curses. Yet, the discussion was interesting. It was the type of discussion that should have happened before the bond was put on the ballot and demonstrates why the bond’s failure in 2015 was likely a good thing.

Throughout the bond election process we often heard that the school needed $30 million of repairs to make it workable and that a new school could be had for that much. “So why not rebuild it” was the message from the pro-bonders. Well, in yesterday’s presentation we learned that there are actually about $500,000 of must-dos to keep the school going for the next 3-4 years. We also learned that there was about $8 million of maintenance that should have been done on the building since 2006 but wasn’t. Then we learned that if we wanted to bring the building up to code and update it, it would cost another $8 million. So, it’s really half a million to keep it going, and up to $16 million to let the school function until 2033.

Some of the school board members pushed back and asked about programming needs and how dark the school was. Mr Hansen chimed in that when it snows that the snow can cover the windows. School Board member Phil Kaplan rebutted “is that worth spending $24 million on [to build a new school]?”

There is still a long debate to go on the once sure-thing — of rebuilding TMJH. Who knows what way it will go. What I do know is that this is the type of discussion we need. You could tell that the board was looking to Mr Hansen and Mr Hauber to tell them what to do. At one point Mr Hauber read a quote from a study done on renovating the school that basically left the conclusion open ended. He told the board, even the experts can’t tell you what to do.

So, the school board is forced to get into the weeds and debate money, programming, and curses. It’s probably what they should have been doing all along. In fact, this is the level of involvement they likely need to exert when planning for School Bond II… when and if they decide to move forward.

If you’d like to watch the board debate this, the video can be watched here. Then click Facilities on the right hand side of the screen.


1 Comment

Steven A Swanson

I was part of a group that toured TMMS Dec. 4th, and was able to ask Todd Hansen, District Building Maintenance, about indoor air quality, especially regarding lead. The testing in 2012 had shown some areas that tested above the EPA safe thresholds for lead (110ug/SF vs. 40ug/SF.)

Apparently, those areas tested were in fan rooms, ahead of filters, and not accessible to students/ faculty. I was then told there were no areas within the building that tested for surface contamination over the threshold levels for any heavy metals, including lead. Testing would continue at/ around TMMS, and other schools, he said.

“Sick Building” syndrome is no longer a problem, he said, and no evidence of mold or any other toxins have been documented recently.

It would be responsible of the District and School Board, at this point when discussing alternative futures for TMMS, to report health & life-safety issues to the public factually, based on good science and to avoid emotionally-charged characterizations which might confuse, anger or frighten.

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