To date, of all the school bonds voted on which proposed a Monolithic Dome facility, all but one have passed. We think there is a direct correlation between presenting a Monolithic Dome as part of the proposal for the bond and successfully passing the bond… and here’s why:
First and foremost, board members, parents, teachers and community members are concerned about the safety of their children, especially if the community lies in tornado and hurricane prone areas of the country. Children need to feel safe! Parents want their children safe in their absence. There is no other structure better able to protect our children during disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes and fires than a Monolithic Dome. If an entire school is not needed in the district or afforded by a bond, building a Monolithic Dome addition or gymnasium still provides a safe refuge in case of a disaster. The safety factor alone is often enough to convince tax payers that Monolithic Domes are the way to go. If not, there are many other benefits which favorably convince voters.
Important: Always check for grants, especially FEMA grants. This could pay for up to 75% of the facility.
Monolithic Domes Benefit Tax Payers and Educators
Citizens tire of the “same ol’, same ol’.” They want new and improved facilities. Therefore, proposing a Monolithic Dome strikes a great advantage.
When board members present the long list of benefits the Monolithic Dome offers, it actually becomes easier to convince voters to pass the bond. Monolithic Domes are a quantum leap forward. They are more than just cutting edge construction technology, they provide “near-absolute protection” where children are safe every day from disasters. They also provide long-term energy savings – generally equaling the cost of the building within just 20 years. Savings also come through decreased ongoing maintenance.
Many patrons were small children when the building that is being replaced was originally built. This doesn’t make sense. Why not build a building that will last more than a single lifetime — especially when they are more cost efficient than conventional short-lived buildings. People want to see more bang for their buck which is exactly what they will get by using Monolithic Dome technology.
Obstacle 1: Fear
When a school district goes for a bond, board members will either have a word picture or rendering of some sort illustrating the proposed building. Board members sometimes have a fear that this could could work against them – especially if they show a dome. However, we have found that the exact opposite proves true. Community members sometimes have a suspicion that money may not be properly husbanded by the school district. This is especially true if a district attempts in anyway to hide what they intend to build. But if the district will lay all the cards on the table for the constituents to look at, show the benefits and answer questions, they have a far better chance of getting a bond passed. Citizens appreciate board members who have done their homework and show them how they will be saving money – long term.
The superintendent has a problem in that if he tries something out of the ordinary and it fails, whether it is related to the buildings or not, he could lose his job. Superintendents ride a knife edge anyway. All kinds of things can go wrong in the district that a superintendent can be blamed for.
School board members are elected by their friends to be abused by their friends for not running the school the way the friends want it run. They have the worst job in the world. They don’t get paid for it, yet they are all afraid they will lose their job or get voted off. It’s an interesting phenomena. Therefore, it takes a very courageous school board member to say, “Let’s do this a better way.”
The irony is that each one, the architect, the superintendent, and the board member will say exactly the opposite in public, but the realities are still there. Fortunately, now and then we have people in those positions with the courage to step up and say “lets make changes.”
Obstacle 2: The Beauty Contest
The system of purchasing a school has evolved over the years. Typically the school board will hold what is known in the trade as a “beauty contest” to select an architect. There is no bidding at this time. The school calls for proposals from one or more architects. The responding architects, by appointment, show their portfolio of previous projects and any references are shared with the board. After consideration of the candidates, the board will select “the architect.” Schools are not allowed to discuss fees until the architect has been selected.
Often the architect will be a member of the community, or even a friend of the board. After being selected the architect is expected to be the team leader and get the school built. As far as selling the board on the idea of a Monolithic Dome school, it is tough to get in the door after an architect has been selected.
This is where things go awry. It is not in the architect’s best interest to try anything new. He has a contract that is based on a percent of the total dollars spent. The least amount of money that he has to spend to produce the drawings, to get the building built is in his best interest. He will often have old plans and specifications in his computer that he can adapt to the new projects. If he opts to build a Monolithic Dome, he increases his workload and has to do more homework. This takes more time for both he and his staff. It nearly doubles his work load while still getting the same final fee. In fact, if they get the building built for less, then the architect actually makes a smaller fee.
In my opinion, a school board would be better served to pay for a feasibility study from all interviewed architects. Ask each one to come up with a plan and a proposal and budget before hiring them. What an architect shows as previous project has very little to do with what needs being done now for the school.
And lastly, a piece of advice: Deal honestly and obey the law.
Public schools are scrutinized by everybody. School officials must be careful to keep all dealings out in the open and above board. Any attempts to hide things usually turns into a disaster. There are many laws and statutes to obey. Not only must they be careful how they bid and purchase but they must be certain to follow proper protocol regarding budgeting, bidding and paying.