Where we got our numbers

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Catalyst’s $354 million tally of capital spending encompasses, with two small exceptions, all the work for which the Reform Board has set aside money it has already raised.

In contrast, the Reform Board’s tally on Phase 1 capital spending, $430 million, includes some projects for which it currently has no money.

The board’s year-end financial statement from last year shows $364 million raised from bond sales and other sources. “We clearly didn’t have $430 million,” says Assistant Budget Director Karen Burke. “Your revenue is your outside constraint.” The rest of the $430 million, Burke says, represents work that has been scoped out but for which no contracts have been bid.

To obtain its tally, Catalyst analyzed two sources of information: A summary of contracts approved to date, provided by the Reform Board’s Department of Procurement, and board reports, which are the documents the School Board votes on at its monthly meetings.

The contract summary accounts for $228 million in work at individual schools, including new construction. The board reports account for another $115 million, the biggest category ($65 million) being “environmental consulting” (lead and asbestos cleanup). The board reports include other consultants, architects and land purchases.

Altogether, these account for the overwhelming majority of work that is officially underway. Here’s what’s missing:

Some work done under a $24.6 million fund called Capital Maintenance. Assistant Budget Director Burke says that much of the work done with this money was less than $10,000 and, therefore, did not have to be put out to bid. The non-bid work is not recorded in the contract summary.

Fees collected by property advisors on rehab work at their schools. Fees range from 2% to 10%; their agreement with the School Board has changed over time, and their fees are subject to the board’s discretion.