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Expensive, and Getting More So -- Arlington Public Schools CIP

According to the Schools capital improvement plan (CIP) for FY 2007-2012, which the Superintendent presented to the School Board a week ago, Arlington voters have approved $375 million in bond referenda since 1988. Despite that, the capital spending plans shows that the replacement cost of the three high schools is rapidly approaching $100 million each. The plan expects the 2006 school bond referendum will request voters to approve a $78.3 million bond. Plus $95.8 million in 2008 and $60.2 million in 2010.

Seth Rosen, reporter for the Arlington Connection, writes in this week’s issue: “The hike in construction prices "is a major concern," School Board Chair Dave Foster said. “It makes us prioritize, threatens to delay some projects and eats up a bigger percentage of the operating funds, deflecting money from day to day priorities.”” Rosen notes the debt is approaching the county’s guideline that restricts debt service to 10% of the operating budget. He then quotes School Board member Mary Hynes, “We are bumping against these ratios the county has laid out to ensure we keep a triple-AAA rating from the bond houses.”

How quickly would Arlington County lose its AAA bond rating if we relied on the political elite to control its desire to spend?