The June 7 editorial, “School safety trumps vow” — about Battle Ground Public Schools deciding to use unspent construction bond money to fix about half of the $11 million worth of deferred maintenance — presented logical arguments and discussed trust in what the board says. The editorial, however, failed to point out that the decision was necessary because of mismanagement of district maintenance expenditures. Managers can predict when things wear out, need replacement, restoration, rehabilitation and reconstruction, as well as expect emergencies. Good budgeting provides special accounts for those “scheduled” projects. Borrowing (but never repaying) maintenance money to fund other items postpones maintenance, and the infrastructure then falls apart, the investment in buildings becomes questionable, and the costs to finally fix the problems goes sky-high.
The district touted holding two “public input” meetings, but district employees made up about two-thirds at each meeting. Not much of a voters’ voice heard. At the Yacolt meeting, the staff agreed that a request would be made to the board to mandate a separate “reserve fund” for predictable future maintenance. So far, no board action has been taken on the matter. Board member Monty Anderson asked, “How do we get the trust back?” Well, maybe the board needs to make some changes in management and in its own actions.