The Board wrestled with selecting a firm to conduct facilities assessments and to help direct a community engagement effort with regard to possible future facility upgrades. The decision was difficult as all four firms brought strengths to the table along with a wide range of fees. In the end the Board selected the Rommel Architecture firm based upon their track record with the district of producing accurate facilities assessments with regard to the Springdale School remodel, their price, and their success at helping to manage successful bond campaigns in other school districts.
Why is the Facility Assessment Piece Critical?
While all steps in the process are critical the first step, the facilities assessment piece, is perhaps the most critical. The information generated in a facilities assessment will inform the remainder of the entire process. If the information is inaccurate, say for instance the estimated costs for repairing a building are too low or too high, then the rest of the process will be built on a faulty assumption. Imagine that a facility assessment predicted it was going to cost 2 million dollars to repair our oldest building and in the end after that figure had been used to help communicate to voters with regard to a bond the actual costs turned out to be 3 million. This type of error could destroy the communities confidence in the district for decades as well as the educational experiences of hundreds of children.
Getting the first step right is critical.
What About the Community Engagement Piece?
The District is committed to engaging the community in this process! The District has committed resources to this effort by hiring the Rommel Architectural firm which has successful experience with this process in two other districts in Multnomah County. The District will monitor this work carefully and if we have not committed enough resources to successfully manage the important community engagement piece more resources will be allocated. Those resources, if needed, could be one of the other firms that was more highly specialized in the community engagement process, a paid professional community engagement consultant, or a committed group or volunteer from our own community!
What About Community Polling?
During the Board meeting a Board member asked the Rommel Architectural firm if they would conduct community poling as part of their community engagement process. They responded “No they would not, but they could help facilitate the process”. None of the other firms were asked that question but their answers would have been similar. Community polling was not included in the scope of services for which we asked the companies to provide cost estimates or proposals. Rommel’s response did not indicate that they were not going to do community engagement, only that polling was not in their scope!
However, community polling will likely be a tool the district uses to engage the community! Almost two months ago I addressed the board with regard to community polling. I explained that it is something I believe we should do, that I had contacted two firms with regard to polling the community and that it would likely cost between six and nine thousand dollars depending upon the length of our survey. My intention is to recommend that we conduct some sort of community survey or poll after we have the results of our facilities assessment.
I have been lucky that over the last few months more and more residents are coming in, or emailing me, to share their perspective, advice, guidance or thoughts about the road forward as we examine our facilities and plan for the future. I hope I get luckier! I would love to hear from as many people as possible, send me an email, give me a call, or drop in and chat.
Enjoy the Winter Break!