CRSD Facts

letter

Dear Castle Rock Community:

Our Board, our citizen facilities team and I have worked with professionals for the last one and a half years to put together the package for the bond. It's not perfect (they never are) but it also isn't secretive or lacking important details that we are hiding. These represent some comments I have heard lately. So, please allow me to address some key issues:

1) Neither I nor the Board would have any reason to 'hide' information from anyone. We want just the opposite - to be as transparent as possible. The citizens facilities committee that voted unanimously to put this bond up a second time know that. No funds from the bond can be used for any other spending category than building improvements. It cannot be transferred to the general fund, and if any were to be spent on district, admins or staff salaries the consequences would be severe.

2) Providing architectural plans and detailed timelines with labor and materials costs would require the district to hire an architect and contractor before the bond passes and spend money from the general fund which would be frivolous spending if the bond does not go through. Other districts have not provided that level of detail unless they had a very large cash reserve that they could spend on costly architects, engineers and contractors PRIOR to obtaining bond money. Instead, as is the norm, we used professionally projected estimates of our costs which are based on school construction costs around the state for specified number of enrolled students and cost of construction per square foot. We don't have anything unusual in our bond plan so this is fairly straightforward. As for using the district’s savings on construction, that would not be a good idea. Since the legislature ‘fixed’ our funding issues, our fund balance has dropped and will continue to drop unless there is another fix. This is true of every Cowlitz County school district. We cannot afford to spend any of those funds on construction. It wouldn’t be responsible to spend operating funds on construction and then cut needed staff positions.

3) Due to not putting up a bond for twenty years, our district will receive an unusually high state match of over $17 Million Dollars. Without that match, we would have to cut out $17 Million Dollars of construction costs. Sadly, portions of the much-needed high school and elementary repairs and renovations would need to be dropped first if full funding is not available.

4) Regarding fields: We will need to replace the Varsity and JV baseball fields. The Varsity field will go where the Babe Ruth field was originally planned at North County. The land is already cleared. The JV field will start out as a practice field at the very end of the HS existing soccer practice field and we will work down the road on getting it into game field condition. Lights will be added to the Varsity field as this will help give the JV, Babe Ruth and Varsity teams all times to squeeze into one field. The two softball fields will play on the existing North County softball fields where we will also add lights to one field to accommodate multiple team usage.

5) Regarding the project plans and building budgets: prior to the bond, our numbers need to be general in nature (as they are) because a) prior to the bond we do not have the thousands of dollars nor the time it would take to create them; and b) it is important to create them from the actual architectural drawings and then obtain pricing from the contractors. Anything else now would be inaccurate and misleading. Following the passage of the bond and the creation of budgets/construction documents, they will be posted for everyone to review.

6) Finally, I will be very happy to meet with any individual or group regarding this bond issue. Our community desperately needs updated schools and I will do whatever I can to help that happen. Please, don't sit back and assume things - ask for answers and we will do everything possible to get them for you: Like you, we want informed voters. Let us know any further information we can add to the website that would reassure you that the district is managing this project properly.

Jim Mabbott
Superintendent

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