.

MISD Moves to Add Portables at IMS, Elementary Schools

New portable classrooms must be placed on playground space at Island Park and Lakeridge due to an expected jump in elementary school enrollment by 2014.

The announced plans to install six more portable classrooms to handle expected increases in K-8 enrollment over the next two years, according to a press release.

MISD Chief Financial Officer Dean Mack said and lack of classroom space require portables to be sited at at , and , increasing the MISD's number of portable classrooms from 26 to 32.

“Due to our current facility limitations, we must move to provide classroom space for students projected to arrive on our doorstep in September, 2012," Mack said. "This growth in student population was forecast in our long-range enrollment projections.”

The "double-wide" portable classroom buildings will each hold two classrooms and have a capacity of 40 students and will be placed on the school campuses this summer. Mack said he expected an enrollment increase of 70 more elementary students and an increase of 40 more middle school-aged students by 2014. The district's current enrollment "headcount" was 4,205 on Oct. 1, 2011.

According to the district, no additional capacity will be added to West Mercer Elementary School because the school is already 40 percent above design capacity — it was designed for 480 students, but 670 are currently enrolled there. Island Park's design capacity is 430 students, but currently holds 550 students; Lakeridge was designed for 455 but now has 600 students; and Islander Middle School, designed for 850, now holds 1,007 students.

The last time a portable was added to a school was in 2010 when the district added one portable classroom to West Mercer.

The press release also states that the MISD is presently working the regarding the locations of the portable classrooms. The District projects that it will need to site the elementary portables on impervious surfaces, such as playgrounds, and the middle school portable will be placed on the campus in an area where a previous portable was once located.

"This is not a new conversation," said Mack. "It's been going on for a number of years now. The only thing that has changed is time."

 

Kendall Watson March 22, 2012 at 04:59 AM
Thanks Candace. I think everyone can get their point across without resorting to negative personal attacks. I would just like to take this opportunity to recommend that commenters please re-review the Terms of Use — which you all agreed to abide by when you signed up for Patch. Namely, comments that are "inaccurate, false or misleading in any way" or are "defamatory, abusive, obscene, profane or offensive" are not permitted and I will remove comments that I understand are in violation of this agreement. Continued violation of Terms of Use could lead to escalating measures. I'd really like to promote a fair exchange of ideas here, and these rules are supposed to help us do that. Thanks very much in advance for your understanding. Kind Regards, Kendall Watson Editor, Mercer Island Patch
Kendall Watson March 22, 2012 at 04:59 AM
(The terms of use are located at the bottom of this page)
Kendall Watson March 22, 2012 at 05:28 AM
Frankly I too am a little baffled by how singling out Kelsay's contracted employment by the MISD in this process is a relevant other than she also happens to have a personal opinion on the issue as well (which is perfectly legal and her right as a concerned citizen). I'm pretty sure Kelsay was hired as the committee's facilitator due to her professional communications background (she has been hired by the MISD for the same services in the past). I admit, it's been a while since I looked at her contract but I recall it is part of the public record and shouldn't be that hard to find. It is certainly interesting that the MISD prioritized the facility committee-process ahead of creating a Master Plan — but wasn't that the point of the 21 CFPC? Page 2 of 21 CFPC's Final Recommendations under "Objective", first sentence: "The committee was asked to make a recommendation to the Mercer Island School Board for a Master Facilities Plan". This was the result of a collaboration of the 20-odd people of that group. So the board took their recommendation for a framework and now they are looking to spend another $25,000 to create a supposedly binding Master Plan. Kelsay helped facilitate that. Her contract seems besides the point — no?
Megan Hand March 22, 2012 at 02:23 PM
I am stunned to find out how LITTLE Kris was paid to facilitate our group. If you divide that by the amount of hours she spent with us and many extra hours gathering information from experts that we requested I would venture to guess Kris barely made minimum wage. Attacks that distract from the real issues we are facing only hurt the group who cannot speak up for their education. -- our kids. Our kids education is totally compromised by the overcrowding. Our kids do not have what other kids have in surrounding districts. Stop all this crazy making and lets all work together to achieve the best for our kids!
Carla Mead Barokas March 22, 2012 at 07:34 PM
We are in this predicament due to the LACK of a plan. We knew this problem was coming! The city kept building, allowed sub-dividing, saw the community growing, yet had no plan on how to accommodate the growing number of students. Paying for a plan? Of course!!! What should we do? Spend multiple millions of dollars on the best FREE plan we can come up with?! We are in this situation due to the lack of plan from those before us. And now our children are suffering. And yes, I consider my 8 year old waiting in line for hot lunch so long that by the time she gets her meal the bell rings and she can't actually EAT that lunch, suffering. We need to agree on a plan, no plan will be perfect, but let's look to the future and stop pretending it won't get worse. This won't be in time for my three children, but it will be for others, and I am willing to pay for that. Even if those before me didn't do it for my kids.
Ira B. Appelman March 23, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Dear Kendall: This isn't rocket science. Whenever anyone questions the bond issue (4-1-1 vs 3-1-1, land banking, etc.), the District or other boosters refer to the recommendations of the Committee (21CFPC) for justification. Kris Kelsay was paid $30,000 to run the 21CFPC. In rejecting $3,000 for the voters pamphlet (which was eventually reversed), Board President Frohnmayer went on and on about how the Board considers $3,000 to be a lot of money and they take fiscal responsibility VERY SERIOUSLY. If $3,000 is a lot TO THE BOARD, then ten times that, must really deserve scrutiny. Kelsay's advocacy of 21CFPC recommendations amounts to praising herself and justifying the considerable expense of hiring her. Virtually no one on the Island (with the exception of relatively few who become involved in these issues) knows that Kelsay was paid $30,000. Yet she has become an "independent" point person for the bond issue supposedly based on 21CFPC. If you wrote an article or gave a speech praising the MI Patch and didn't reveal that, after all, you are the editor, I think readers/listeners would be disappointed. I don't think you would do that. The fact that you are the editor is an important point for people to take into account when evaluating your praise of your own product. The fact that Kelsay was paid $30,000 to lead the 21CFPC is an important point for people to take into account when evaluating Kelsay's advocacy of the bond issue based on 21CFPC.
Kendall Watson March 23, 2012 at 08:17 PM
I guess I am a little surprised that folks still don't realize that the MISD hired her as a facilitator for the facility planning commission.
Ira B. Appelman March 23, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Hi Kendall: There are 16,000+ voters on the Island. Well over half don't get the Distorter and many are occupied with their own busy lives, sometimes travelling on the road for weeks or months. I think you'd be surprised how many are just hearing about the bond issue, have never heard of the bond issue, or have never heard about MI Patch, 21CFPC and the details of how the School Board works. At the time they read and consider advocacy, that's the time when they need to be told or reminded of facts that are second nature to you and others who are involved.
Robert C. Brown March 23, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Just to clarify the "secret" meetings, perhaps "undisclosed" would have been a better term. Last week, I received an email from a neighbor of the Stevenson's saying they received a letter (probably to have come from Dr. Plano) about these meetings. The 11:30 & 7:00 meetings were the ones I referred to, and the neighbor told me that the letter did not contain the date or time, but was spread by word of mouth. CMIPS also held "undisclosed" meetings with the MIPA that same day. I would like to respond to CMIPS member Carol Gullstad's letter to the Distorter today accusing us of being "Super PACs". She accuses us of raising unlimited amounts of money and taking down their signs. The fact of the matter is, I have raised absolutely NO money nor touched ANY signs- for OR against the bond. She also raises the issue of how many names we have. Many people don't want me to display their names because of fear of being ostracised from the community. I could go on about this, but I dont dwell on politics too much. It appears that the only reason neighbors of the Stevenson's were opposed was because of the possible relocation. I am unsure whether or not these people are still opposed. Before Marty Gale contacted me, I had absolutely no idea of Kris's payment -- despite reading the board minutes and agendas. Why not, instead of having paid Kelsay, used the 30K for a "master plan" of the elementary schools? I can't believe that just coordinating two dozen meetings justifies $30'000.
Kendall Watson March 23, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Thanks Robert. Well, in the comment area you are more than welcome to point out Mrs. Kelsay's previous employment. If I were to write a story about something school bond-related and quoted Kelsay or something she did, I would be sure to qualify it with her relevance to the story (i.e. the 21 CFPC contract). Clarification appreciated.
David de Yarza March 23, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Yes, those were the ones. I can tell you that a lot of neighbors of Stevenson's, yours truly included, still oppose the bond. The possible relocation was more an indication of a lack of planning apparent in the bond measure, than a reason to oppose it itself. Like you, I know of numerous individuals that will not publicly show their opposition for fear of criticism, and while I can respect that position, I wish some of them would speak up for what is right because their voices would be very powerful. As for the issue of paying $30K for coordinating a few meetings, I'm not in principle opposed to that, and I'm sure that many hours of work were done to justify that contract. I do worry however, that if $30K is needed for one consultant on this task, the $25K allocated in the bond for a master plan of the megablock is not going to buy us much.
Blair Destro March 26, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Public information: http://www.pdc.wa.gov/MvcQuerySystem/CommitteeData/contributions?param=Q09NTU1JIDA0MA====&year=2012&type=single
David de Yarza March 26, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Illegal or not, this is very disappointing. The bridge-the-gap program is supposed to be going to fund teachers and programs that, unlike shinny new schools, actually make a difference in our children's education. It is unfortunate, because I just got an e-mail asking me to donate to MISF for this year's Bridge-the-Gap, and in light of this revelation, I'm going to save my money.
David de Yarza March 26, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Please take the time to read the 21st Century Facility Planning Committee Board Recommendation. This is the report that so often is cited as the reason why the bond is structured the way that it is. The report can be found in on the school district website. Link: http://www.misd.k12.wa.us/board/agenda/documents/21CFPC%20Rec%2009-26-11-FINALa.pdf. Read the section regarding costing: "These costs were rough estimate only, to give the committee a sense of the costs of relative options. The School Board would need to do extensive independent costing before putting a bond proposal before the public." That is a direct quote. Bottom of page 13 in the 21st CPC board recommendation. Send this bond back to the board. Vote NO.
Penny Yantis March 28, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Organizations exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) are prohibited from engaging in political campaign activities on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office. However, political activities not associated with a campaign for public office (referred to as lobbying) are permissible under the IRC provided they do not constitute a substantial part of the 501 (c)(3) organization’s activities. Lobbying includes activities or contributions in support of ballot measure committees such as CMIPS. The Board and staff considered these issues prior to taking any action with respect to the school bond measure. Our contributions to CMIPS do not constitute a substantial part of MISF’s activities and do not therefore impact MISF’s status under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRC. The assertion that MISF’s contributions to CMIPS are not legal is completely false and potentially damaging to the reputation of MISF. Mission Statement: “..dedicated to enhancing and improving the quality of education provided to ALL students of the MI School District by obtaining contributions for the public schools.” Consistent with our Mission and with past practice supporting school levy and bond campaigns, MISF board endorsed the proposed bond believing it will enhance and improve the quality of education for students in our school district. Penny Yantis, Executive Director Board of Directors, Mercer Island Schools Foundation
Kendall Watson March 28, 2012 at 06:29 AM
Since it took me about half-an-hour to independently verify Mrs. Yantis' response, I will leave this comment as-is and assume good faith that it was posted with the understanding that it is based in fact. However, the above statement is incorrect: "So people who are making contributions to the Foundation have no guarantee that their contributions are being used for the stated mission AND it’s not legal." Please see IRS guidance on this issue found under the heading, "Frequently Asked Questions About the Ban on Political Campaign Intervention by 501(c)(3) Organizations: Contributions to Ballot Measure Committees" http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0,,id=207341,00.html My observation is also based on prior reporting which indicates that the vast majority of MISF funding is directed toward the funding of school operations purposes, and not political lobbying: http://patch.com/A-jBwb While Mercer Island Patch values contributions and comments from all, I would kindly remind our commenters that you all agreed to abide by our Terms of Use. Explicit in those terms is this statement: "Without limitation, you agree that you will not post or transmit to other users anything that contains Content that ... is inaccurate, false or misleading in any way" http://mercerisland.patch.com/terms
Ira B. Appelman March 28, 2012 at 08:17 AM
Hi Kendall: Thanks for researching the legality of the MI Schools Foundation campaign activity. Please clarify why you concluded their activity is legal for a 501(c)(3) organization. The IRS website you referenced clearly states the opposite of what you imply -- that campaign activity CAN result in the loss of 501(c)(3) status: “In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying).” So a 501(c)(3) organization violates the terms of its tax-exempt status if a substantial part of its activities is campaigning. So why did you conclude that MISF’s campaigning is NOT a substantial part of its activities? Put another way, “How much in dollars and work would MISF have to devote to lobbying in order for that to be a substantial part of its activities? The IRS gives a complex definition of what “substantial part” means: “The IRS considers a variety of factors, including the time devoted (by both compensated and volunteer workers) and the expenditures devoted by the organization to the activity, when determining whether the lobbying activity is substantial.” Are you aware of all the lobbying that MISF does on all issues? Can you provide calculations to show that the lobbying activities of MISF are NOT substantial according to IRS standards? If not, maybe we should leave it to the IRS to make the “substantial part” determination.
Kendall Watson March 28, 2012 at 03:50 PM
The IRS link states: "May a section 501(c)(3) organization make a contribution to a ballot measure committee (committees supporting or opposing ballot initiatives or referenda)? Yes, a section 501(c)(3) organization may make a contribution to a ballot measure committee (committees supporting or opposing ballot initiatives or referenda), but it must include such contributions in its lobbying calculations for purposes of determining whether a substantial part of its activities consist of attempting to influence legislation." I will write more about this later today pending a response from the PDC. Here's a link to the MISF's 2011 annual report. http://mercerislandschoolsfoundation.com/assets/docs/MISFanrpt1011financ.pdf One can reasonably assume that most of the line items that end with the word "grant" or "review" are likely not directed toward lobbying activities. There is one line item, however, that is a likely candidate for this: "Parent Education". The amount budgeted for that was $2,681. Even if you include other line items that are somewhat vague, such as "General and Administrative" ($110,815), that's only 12% of their total operating budget (and it's extremely unlikely that all of this money is devoted to lobbying). The IRS measures "substantial" in this instance as a test, found here: http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=163394,00.htm On balance, a reasonable person, given the information I have provided, should deduce that the MISF is within the law.
Kendall Watson March 28, 2012 at 04:03 PM
"If not, maybe we should leave it to the IRS to make the “substantial part” determination." I strongly disagree with this formulation. I'll do my best to determine what is presented here is based on facts. Lacking those, I must then choose what is reasonable and use my best judgment as editor. The allegation has been raised that the MISF conducted an illegal transaction. The balance of evidence that I can find on this particular point does not support the assertion that the MISF has acted illegally. I see no proof of that, and I will not give undue weight to something on Patch that lacks this basis.
Ira B. Appelman March 28, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Dear Kendall: Thanks for pursuing the propriety of the MI Schools Foundation, a 501(c)(3), engaging in lobbying. I appreciate and respect you making sure what’s on Patch is accurate. This is a positive development; the Distorter would never pursue this. Although I agree that the claim that MISF’s lobbying is illegal is NOT supported by the facts, I don’t understand your conclusion that the lobbying IS legal. It comes down to what is a “substantial part” of activities. Above, I provided the IRS’s complex definition that includes NOT ONLY money spent, but time spent lobbying. Is the lobbying of MISF Directors considered part of the definition? I tried to access the webpage you gave as the IRS’s test, http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=163394,00.htm, but I get a “page not found” error message. It is case law and administrative interpretations, NOT WHAT A REASONABLE PERSON WOULD THINK, that govern how terms like “substantial part” are interpreted. You seem to have concluded that even in the extremely unlikely scenario that MISF has committed 12% to lobbying, that, according to you wouldn’t be a “substantial part.” I don’t see why you conclude that (would losing 12% of your salary be “substantial”), but my point is that case law and administrative interpretations will control. Too often, political campaigns deteriorate into uneducated food fights. I appreciate Patch becoming a forum for the more complex issues raised here.
Kendall Watson March 28, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Sorry, the "l" got cut off. Here is the IRS lobbying expenditure test: http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=163394,00.html
Kendall Watson March 28, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Strictly speaking on technical terms, Mercer Island Patch did not declare that what the MISF did "is LEGAL". All I said was, given the facts that I currently possess, I cannot say that it was ILLEGAL, and on balance most of the evidence I see indicates that what they did was legal, until proven otherwise. There is a difference, believe it or not ;-)
Kendall Watson March 28, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Frankly, I don't see how my comments here are any different than when I challenged you in an earlier story to support your allegations, which you did later provide http://patch.com/A-mbhj
Ira B. Appelman March 28, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Hi Kendall: In the previous case, I was able to provide under-oath depositions and a video proving the sexual solicitation took place because the Lindell lawsuit had occurred and forced testimony under oath. Before that, based on public record requests, I was only able to assert that "misconduct" of some type had occurred resulting in discipline. In this case, I do not assert that illegal activity took place because I don't know of any IRS adjudication that has taken place and cannot get those or any other documents and provide them to you. As far as I know, MISF isn't subject to the public records act. What MISF has done may very well be legal, but I think that depends on how the IRS determines "substantial." I can only obtain official documents to provide to you if some party decides to sue MISF on this issue and the determination of "substantial" becomes part of the open court records, as happened when Lindell sued the City of Mercer Island. As you know, the MISF mission statement says nothing about lobbying. If the IRS table you referenced is a straight-forward explanation of how "substantial part" is defined, based on MISF's income, how much money do you believe MISF can spend on lobbying and still maintain its 501(c)(3) status?
Kendall Watson March 28, 2012 at 07:01 PM
OK, well, based on the table at the link I provided, for the MISF, with expenditures between 500K and $1 M, the table says the "Lobbying nontaxable amount is" : "$100,000 plus 15% of the excess of exempt purpose expenditures over $500,000". That's what the IRS table says.
Ira B. Appelman March 28, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Thanks, Kendall: I don't quite understand. So what's the final dollar amount you believe MISF can spend on lobbying based on IRS rules?
Kendall Watson March 28, 2012 at 07:28 PM
That's what I was saying above. Based on the MISF Annual Report, it appears that very few categories indicate where they could use funds to lobby. So my best understanding here based on limited knowledge is that, on balance — and even assuming the extreme (again, as I outline above) — that it would not violate the guideline laid out in that table.
Marty Gale March 29, 2012 at 04:06 PM
In my previous message concerning the money that the Mercer Island Schools Foundation gives to the PDC-registered, "Committee for Mercer Island Public Schools," I erred when I said it was "not legal." Thanks go to Kendall for finding the IRS statements for that. However, although it may be legal for the Foundation to give money to a campaign, perhaps the Foundation should let the public know of ALL the uses of their Foundation contributions instead of just the ones listed on their website. Nowhere does it say that any portion of the contributions received and passed onto political campaigns is part of their mission statement. http://mercerislandschoolsfoundation.com/about-us/
Ira B. Appelman March 30, 2012 at 03:13 PM
MISF Executive Director Penny Yantis sent essentially the above response to me. Here’s my reply, edited to fit space limitations: Thanks for your written response.... I am writing again because I don't understand two aspects of your response: (1) You explain that a 501(c)3 organization can contribute to a ballot issue campaign if those contributions aren't a "substantial part" of the organization's activities. On what basis do you conclude your contributions to CMIPS "do not constitute a substantial part of MISF's activites...?" Do you have an IRS ruling? Have you made calculations showing your contributions below a stated IRS threshold? How much would you have to contribute for the contribution to be a "substantial part" of MISF activities? (2) You also point out that your mission statement was incorrectly quoted online, but instead is that MISF is "dedicated to enhancing and improving the quality of education..." "by obtaining contributions for the public schools." You then claim that endorsing the proposed bond is consistent with your mission "because we believe it will enhance and improve the qualify of education..." What is confusing is that your mission statement claims that you are reaching your goal "by obtaining contributions," not by lobbying, campaigning, or political activity of any sort. Your mission statement doesn't include political activity of any sort. I would appreciate any help you can give to eliminate perceived confusion of MISF activities.
Kendall Watson April 14, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Thanks Marty for this statement of errata, which I am sure is appreciated in all quarters. It is absolutely a fair point and reasonable to debate whether the use of the MISF's money in this way is a wise choice.

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