As parents who have been deeply involved in the Santa Monica-Malibu School District's reconstruction program, we feel it is time to set the record straight about how the project, funded by Proposition ES in 1990, has been implemented.
The reconstruction program has been prudently managed. An experienced management firm has assisted in the design of the program and construction management. Independent inspectors accountable only to the school district have been on site at each school throughout the construction. Program implementation has been audited regularly . . . and the project is overseen by an independent oversight committee, accountable only to the school board, made up of community professionals. These checks and balances have worked to ensure that the program is as honest and efficient as possible.
As anyone who has ever remodeled their kitchen knows, there is no such thing as a renovation project without its rough spots. Suppliers are late, open walls reveal previously undetected plumbing problems, an inspector demands something no one anticipated, and the customer realizes that "just this change" would vastly improve the project. We have experienced delays due to the Jan. 17 earthquake, which caused backups in the state architectural approval office. The earthquake also enabled us to schedule reconstruction of several buildings that were left out of final plans due to budget constraints.
A sharp eye toward keeping costs in line also caused delays at several schools, where the district was unable to award a bid because all bids were over budget. Responsible management required rebidding in order to keep the program within its budget.
Taxpayers should be pleased by the district's thriftiness. By tackling all 14 school sites during the same period of time, the district has received quantity prices on such big-ticket items as plumbing installations and light fixtures.
Every public project and decision has its naysayers who find it easy to take potshots. Those of us who have been part of the checks and balances as volunteers for this project have no vested interest in any group except the students. It is clear that the district has done an admirable job of managing the ES construction program against some very difficult odds.
We urge the voters of Santa Monica and Malibu to not let those with a personal ax to grind confuse the issue at hand. The parcel tax, which provides funds directly to the classroom, has been in effect for 10 years. This time a very modest $10-a-year increase is included.
Let our schools do their job with the most support possible. The children of this school district deserve your "yes" vote on Proposition K.
Chairperson, ES Oversight Committee
President, Morley Building Group
ES Monitoring Committee