Thursday, January 3, 2013
Will excess matching funds be returned?
U-B front-page news from Dec. 21: “The School Board voted today to use any excess funds from a Walla Walla High School Bond to pay down debt.”
As you can see the School Board promise is carefully worded so the promise only applies to the Bond excess. The $21.6 million state matching dollars isn’t necessarily included in this promise.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for a refund. Have we received the promised police station refund yet?
Who is the School Board trying to fool? “Fool us once, shame on them; fool us twice shame on us.”
For some reason the School Board doesn’t think state matching dollars are meant for the schools they’re allocated for.
After the Edison wrongdoing was exposed, our former superintendent wrote a letter to the U-B in June 2008 with the following explanation about matching dollars.
He said: Taxpayers don’t understand state matching dollars. The state rewards communities with matching dollars for passing school bonds.
In other words, if we taxpayers tax ourselves for school bonds, the state will reward us with matching tax dollars they’ve already collected from us. We’re supposed to believe this nonsense?
Evidently one board member believes that nonsense. That board member said he voted for the Edison wrongdoing and would do it again. He also voted “no” on the bond refund. Is this the kind of board member who administers our annual $50 million school budgets?
This proposal sounds like the Edison School bond controversy. Many millions overpriced, with intent to spend state matching dollars elsewhere without voter approval (possibly Lincoln High).
The Wa-Hi bond is $48 million. The spending proposal, including state matching dollars of $21.6 million, is $69.6 million.
I suspect the Wa-Hi project is projected to cost about $45 million. We might have a small refund if we’re lucky. The remaining state matching dollars of $21.6 million could then be spent as the board desires. Edison history causes this conclusion.
A brief review of the Edison School bond controversy: The School Board seemed to purposely inflate the Edison bond by millions, including the state matching dollars. It used that excess money to build the bus depot without voter approval. The bus depot was denied earlier in a vote.
It looks like the School Board then sold the old bus depot in a private sale instead of a publicly advertised auction that’s required by law.
The School Board’s credibility has diminished somewhat.