Wednesday, June 6, 2012

School District did the right thing


By LONNIE BARBER and STEVE GUTHRIE

We wish to respond to the Our View editorial in the May 30 issue.

The Plant Facility Levy supported three goals of the Blaine County School District strategic plan: safety and security, facilities and technology. The strategic plan came from unprecedented community input; it is the road map for educating every child in our public schools. Because of the strategic plan we have the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program, increased world languages, increased Advanced Placement, robust college counseling, Dual Language learning and a myriad of other progressive educational programs that the community wanted.

The School District is grateful that voters passed the continuation of the Plant Facility Levy to fund three of the strategic plan goals. Of the eight buildings that received facility improvements, all but one were built 35 to 40 years ago. Old systems needed to be replaced, and by funding this through a levy, the general fund was preserved for the classroom. Because the district entered into what it understood was an energy savings performance contract, it was able to use 56 local contractors and companies.

As reported in the July 15, 2011, edition of the Idaho Mountain Express, Jason Hynes, construction manager for McKinstry, stated that an estimated $7 million to $8 million of the initial $10 million spent went to local subcontractors. Based on the Mountain Express' statements that every dollar spent locally multiplies by 10, this equates to a significant amount of money that has been returned to the local economy.

We also have equipment in place that will reduce energy costs and provide savings in the future. To watch a demonstration of this, go to http://powermeter.blaineschools.org/Bellevue/.

What the School District owes the public is the opportunity to see the dispute between it and McKinstry resolved in a Blaine County court. McKinstry, not the School District, owes the taxpayers an explanation of what went wrong. The district can explain what went right: a signed energy savings performance contract, an internal system of checks and balances that recognized McKinstry's errors, and an administration and board of trustees that believe in fighting for what is right for the taxpayers.

Lonnie Barber is superintendent of the Blaine County School District. Steve Guthrie is the chairman of the district's board of trustees.




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