Local News

Director: School board needs to address $20 million in maintenance

By From page A1 | March 09, 2014

The Davis school district has a backlog of $20 million in building maintenance needs, facilities director Mike Adell told the Board of Education on Thursday night.

These deferred projects should be addressed during the next five years, he advised. At the same time, Adell acknowledged that there is very little funding in the school district’s facilities budget to pay for the needed work.

“We are basically approaching running on empty,” Adell said.

At the top of his list is roofing work — about $4 million worth of repairs and replacement that qualifies as an “immediate” need, plus another $4 million in projects that should be addressed within the next five years.

The other big enchiladas on Adell’s plate of priorities include $6 million to replace aging portable classrooms — some of which have been in use since the 1970s — and $4.5 million to replace aging heating and air-conditioning systems, some of which are so old that “it is becoming impossible to find parts” to repair them, he said.

Adell added that there is about $300,000 in work that needs to be done to bring old fire alarm systems at various schools up to standard.

He also identified $1.5 million in projects relating to outdated phone systems and another $250,000 in intercom systems projects.

Adell said the district’s practice of patching up aging roofs and repairing old heating and cooling systems is reaching a point of diminishing returns.

“We’ve had a lot of Band-Aids, and the Band-Aids have gotten bigger and bigger,” he said. “(Now) we have to start looking at a higher level.”

He added that the district’s maintenance and operations staff was reduced during the past six years as the state budget crisis took its toll on school district funding.

“We’ve had layoffs, we’ve had resignations, we did lose a fair amount of staff that we have not been able to build back,” Adell said. “Right now, we are doing more with less.”

Summing up, Adell told trustees, “I don’t want to say the sky is falling … but it’s leaning.”

In response, trustee Susan Lovenburg said she is interested in the sale of surplus properties — 8 acres on Grande Avenue and 8 acres in the Wildhorse neighborhood — to pay for some of the backlog. Both sites were identified as surplus by the school board several years ago, after a state-mandated review process.

Elsewhere on Thursday’s agenda, the school board:

* Unanimously approved and accepted the school district’s proposed strategic plan, which covers a five-year time frame. The 26-member committee that prepared the strategic plan now will reconvene annually and review the district’s progress toward the goals.

* Reviewed a proposed new course in robotics engineering that will be offered to high school students. Trustees spoke favorably of the course, which got its first hearing before the board Thursday. The item will come back for formal approval in a few weeks.

* Recognized King High School, which was recently listed as a model continuation high school by the California Department of Education. Teachers Sharon McCorkell and Theo Buckendorf, a King High graduate who is now a faculty member, and others affiliated with the school spoke briefly.

McCorkell also recognized retired King High Principal Dave Egolf and retired school secretary Billie Dunbar who were present Thursday.

* Reviewed the second interim budget report, and approved the assumptions outlined by Associate Superintendent Bruce Colby, who described the district’s gradually improving outlook as “good, but not enough” to cover the numerous needs that have accumulated during the past six years of fiscal cutbacks.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055.

Jeff Hudson

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