It seems like ASD always has school bonds on the ballot, why is that?
ASD's mission is to educate students for success in life. Maintaining quality school facilities is essential to the support of this mission. This is no small task for a school district among the 100 largest in the U.S. The district owns 87 schools and six support facilities, consisting of more than 7.7 million square feet of space, at a present value of about $2.4 billion. A quality school's functional life without major renewal ranges from between 30 years to 50 years. For 87 schools, this would require the district to present bond ballot propositions for two to three major renewals every two years. This does not consider that many schools were built during the 1960s and 1970s at a time of pronounced population growth; they are now candidates for renewal.
Why is the district requesting voter approval of bond issues at a time of economic uncertainty?
The Anchorage School District is a "forever" owner of school facilities. As a steward of the taxpayers' investment, ASD undertakes its responsibilities, including:
- design and construct facilities with durability,
- care for facilities through preventative maintenance and a planned custodial program,
- extend functional life of facilities so long as it remains cost effective,
- reconfigure existing facilities to support changing educational programs and their technologies, and
- innovate flexibility into new and renewed facilities to accommodate education changes over a 50-year facility life.
Until the State moratorium on bond debt reimbursement in 2015, the State reimbursed projects at 60 or 70 percent. This means that taxpayers only had to pay 30 or 40 cents on the dollar for projects that were funded through the bonding process. Projects funded through other means did not qualify for debt reimbursement.
Presently, there is no State reimbursement for bond projects. All projects will be paid for by Anchorage taxpayers.
How does ASD determine what parts of a building need to be overhauled or renewed?
Building components wear out. Facility systems last only so long. Roofs deteriorate and leak. Heating, plumbing, and ventilation systems wear out. Equipment and machine parts are no longer available to support older systems. Various code changes require updating electrical and mechanical systems. It is necessary that ASD provide access for persons with physical disabilities meeting ADA compliance. The removal of hazardous materials as well as the renewal of various building system components requires a systematic renewal plan. Additionally, significant facility renewals often require structural upgrades to meet more stringent current building codes. Older school facilities reach a point of functional obsolescence.
Over the life of a school building, academic program changes demand updating the facility infrastructure. For example, to accommodate current technology needs, there is a continual requirement to update the electrical distribution systems in schools.
Education is a fluid business and 21st Century learning skills require physical layouts that are often different and more flexible than those of 30-40 years ago.
Effective operation and maintenance programs are a critical component to extending the life of buildings, sites, systems, and equipment. Longterm maintenance requires a quality building environment for the success of instructional programs.
ASD Capital Planning and Construction uses the Facilities Condition Index (FCI) to describe the relative condition of school and other District facilities in relation to the current replacement value (CRV) of any one building. All ASD buildings undergo facility condition assessments. These assessments serve as a basis for determining priorities and costs of facilities capital needs, both for short term and long term planning purposes. The assessment process includes a field assessment where building system components are evaluated based on condition and age of the system. Results of the initial assessment identify system requirements, along with corrective action, and costs to implement. The next step includes compilation of data. The conclusion provides quality control and incorporates staff institutional knowledge on the collected information. Once the evaluation process is complete, a facility condition index is calculated to provide a comparison of the relative condition of a facility and/or system to others. It is a ratio of the cost to correct capital needs arising within the next four years divided by the replacement cost of a facility. A site with an FCI less than .30 is generally considered in excellent, good and average condition, which is the District's target in order to maintain the general physical condition of ASD's physical plant. A site with an FCI higher than .30 is considered in poor or crisis condition.
Some facility systems identified as problems in the facility evaluation process do not require immediate replacement. Just because a key building component like a roof or boiler has reached the end of its anticipated useful life, does not necessarily mean they have failed. In some cases, those systems can continue to function for many additional years. The evaluation data provides a basis for ongoing assessment. The FCI cannot be used as the sole determinant of capital project prioritization. Other factors such as educational functionality and attendance projections are factors.
How does the District determine projects for bond proposals?
According to statutory requirements, the District develops a six-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The CIP serves as a guide for future capital bond request ballot propositions. Projects are selected for the CIP based on evaluation of several factors:
- site and facility conditions based on FCI ranking (see previous question)
- assessment of ability to meet Districtwide educational specifications
- enrollment history and projections
- input from the community on its educational goals and need
- project scopes and cost estimates
This information is analyzed and evaluated by the Facilities department, District administration, and the Superintendent. Proposed projects and their priorities are then included in a draft CIP. The CIP is reviewed by a Capital Improvement Advisory Committee comprised of public representatives. This community-based citizens group meets regularly to review facility needs and recommend bond propositions to the Superintendent. The Superintendent then recommends the CIP to the Anchorage School Board for approval. The Board holds a public hearing, and then acts on the recommendations. The CIP is also reviewed by the Municipal Planning and Zoning Commission, and submitted to the Anchorage Assembly for approval of ballot placement. The Anchorage School Board and District Administration provide extensive project information to the Anchorage Assembly. The Assembly has authority to change proposed bond issue projects before approving them to be placed on bond ballot propositions.
What is the expected life of the various components of a school building?
The expected life of the components in any building facility varies. Ongoing maintenance and upkeep can extend the life of a school. Building materials and equipment are selected with regard to cost and durability. For example, carpet that will last about 20 years is typically selected over cheaper carpet which will have to be replaced more often and end up being more expensive over time. The expected life of school components is shown in the table below:
- Roof, 20-30 years
- Plumbing valves, 15 years
- Paint, 7 years interior, 10 years exterior
- Asphalt, 20 years
- Hockey rinks, 10 years
- Carpet, 20 years
- Fencing, 20 years
- Floor tile, 20 years
- Lights, 20 years
- Boiler, 30 years
- Cabinets, 25 years
- Fans, 30 years
- Intercoms, 20 years
- Gym floors, 30 years
- Fire alarms, 20 years
- Playgrounds, 20 years
- Ceiling tiles, 20 years
- Door hardware, 25 years
- Window treatment, 20 years
By the time a building is 25-30 years old, all major components should have been replaced.