All content, of both the original and this blog, is written from my point of view and is my opinion. I believe it to be accurate at the time it is written. ~ Kyle Prast, Brookfield resident since 1986

Sunday, March 18, 2007

What can you expect your tour guide to say?

I see the district is offering a behind the scenes tour of the Mechanical Systems at the high schools on the 2 Saturdays before the referendum. At first, I wondered who would be the tour guides. I know on my tour of Central, the principal could not answer many of the questions that I had about maintenance and the “mechanicals”.

But the district is having either Maintenance Director Dave Ross or the facility managers of the high schools as tour guides. They may be more helpful.

However, if a visitor has a tough question about the reason the district does things the way they do or the need to replace an entire system, it does put these people in rather a difficult position. They are employed by the district—the administration and school board are their bosses. In government as in corporate life, employees are expected to support management’s agenda.

It is no secret that I believe we have not been spending enough on maintaining what we have. While this may cost a little more year to year, I believe in the long run, it will save the district taxpayers money.

It is ridiculous to think that a school can be relatively maintenance free or that no mechanicals would need replacing for 20 years. We all know this from taking care of our homes. Yes, a new home will need less initially, but even in newer construction, there are kinks to work out and things that break or need replacing. The new home, in 25 years will need its roof, furnace, and certainly its hot water heater replaced. Yet we don’t tear our homes down; we fix them.

I think it is important not to shoot the messenger (guide) on the tours. These men can only do so much with the budgets they have been allocated by the board and administration.

It is also important to remember that they work for the school district. They are not free to speak off the record.

So take the tour, but know that there may be a different perspective on the problems the school district cites.
Many of the needs we have today are a result of deferred maintenance, and much of this $108.8M is catch-up.

More about this later, but here are a few examples of commercial replacement intervals: boilers-continually renewable (in contrast with new, higher efficiency modular boilers -10 years), roof -20 years, water heater - 20 years, fire alarm system -10 years, lighting-10 years (either new technology comes out and is more efficient, or newer electronic ballasts don’t last.)


LINKS: Betterbrookfield, Brookfieldnow, Practically Speaking,


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