Since the last letter sent home and the last Parent Club meeting there have been several concerns expressed about the retro fitting project. There was also a meeting with the Archdiocese regarding the project. The notes from that meeting were sent home last Monday. I would like to share with you my personal notes from that meeting. Tracy Lee was with me at that meeting and I have added her notes to mine for this letter.
Along with the sample timeline published by the Archdiocese there was also the following information:
- Local parish and school committees should be expanded to provide all stake holders with accurate information and an opportunity to give input to the process.
- There is no “official” or legal deadline for completing the project but the Archdiocese is looking at 5 to 8 years as the average time to finish.
- The Archdiocese will do some fundraising but the major burden will be on the school /parish.
- Pastors and principals must work together with their committee and Archdiocese to complete the project.
- It was suggested that “clusters” of schools meet to discuss common issues. One suggestion was for geographically close schools to meet, another was for the schools with major projects to meet as they would probably share more issues.
- Building codes could get tougher if we wait too long to start projects.
- A major part of the local committee’s responsibilities will be to the financial needs of the local project. They will need to plan, figure costs, find funding sources, work out cash flow plan, know how to pay off loan from Archdiocese. It is advisable to figure out a time line for the project.
- Most work should be done over summer vacations. School calendars may be slightly revised with permission to get construction done during vacations.
- Saint Mary’s School (which will be suspending operations in June) is available to rent at $55 per square foot.
- All work must be done by Archdiocesan approved contractors. Three bids will be needed for all work. Incentive clauses may be used to assure completion of work on schedule.
- The decision makers are ultimately the Pastor, Principal and Parish Finance Council Chairperson. They will form their decisions based on input from all interested parties, including parishioners and parents.
- Loans must be obtained from the Archdiocese and will be awarded based on approval of financial plan. No loans may be secured from outside sources.
- Most schools / parishes will begin work in summer 2018.
- The Archdiocese will solicit bids (3 sealed) and sign contracts after the pastor and principal in conjunction with the local committee, approve of plans.
- Three fundraising companies were present and Father Illo and I briefly spoke with reps from each one.
We now have a committee of interested parents and parishioners who also bring different skill sets to this project. The group currently includes: Father Illo, Father Vito, Jay Davidson, Naomi Kelly, Ron Lagman, Tracy Lee, Tim McRitchie, Eva Muntean, David Schmidt, Ryan Seebers and myself. I think it would be good to have at least one committee member either a Parent Club officer or someone who would make regular reports to the Parents Club. The notes that went home last week do not yet directly apply to Star of the Sea School because we hope to ask the Archdiocese to prepare a master plan for us that would take into consideration options such as retrofitting or tearing down and rebuilding parts of the plant. There will be a cost for this process and the specifics of that will be shared with all stakeholders prior to committing to a master plan.
In closing let me reiterate two very important facts:
It is important to restate that only one building in the Archdiocese was deemed an immediate worry and that building has already been retrofitted. Another building will be torn down soon but students do not use that building. Both of these buildings are on another school’s campus. The new standard is much more rigorous that the old one. The buildings at Star came through the 1957 and 1989 quakes with no damage and the new standard is to survive a Loma Pieta strength quake directly under us. This building is as safe as any other in the neighborhood. The high cost of retrofitting is essentially because Star has 2 full size schools and a full gymnasium. Most of our sister schools in the Archdiocese have 1 school building and many of them have only 8-9 classrooms, not the 16 we have here. And most other schools do not have a gym.
Secondly, no decisions have been made. Nor will they be made until we all have ample opportunity to put in our 2 cents worth on this project. I have heard many concerns that I am moving too quickly and just as many that I am moving too slowly. I actually do not have any authority to do or decide anything. The Archdiocese has told us that pastors and principals must work through this process with a group of parishioners and parents. And that group must report to and listen to all stakeholders. This will be a long and important project. Getting started soon is in the best interests of safety and economy, but the first steps are dreaming, planning, and working together, not repairing, rebuilding, or making financial commitments.
I promise more news on this topic as soon as I know more details.