Time to end ‘Virtual School’ game


The state school superintendent is asking for hundreds of millions of dollars for new construction in the capital budget.  It may pass without much scrutiny because the Legislature has had only one topic on its mind, the operating budget.

For the last several years,  the state school superintendent has been using a major portion of its capital funds to enable what I call the “Virtual School” scam. The scam is simple.  A district starts a “modernization” project.  It then requires the architect to include the cost to provide temporary housing (a “Virtual School”), during the entire time of remodeling, as a part of the cost of modernization.

This contrived major cost, when combined with major remodeling costs, runs the total estimated project cost above the state matching limit for a modernization project.  SPI rejects the modernization project based on this bogus estimate, but approves a request for state matching funds for new construction in lieu of modernization.

This costs the state (as well as the local school district) 50-60 percent more in construction costs than if the building were remodeled.  A substantially sound public building with scores of remaining useful years becomes landfill.

The district gets a new school and calls it “modernized.”  The state has 50-60 percent less money to spend on legitimately needed projects.  The public is fleeced at both the state and local level.

Paul Hall, Kirkland