2011-12 Measure “B” and “C" Citizens Oversight Committee
Kelly Rios – Vice Chair
With this passage of Measure “B” in November 2010, the administration is requesting the Board of Trustees move forward with the process of filling the positions of the Citizens Oversight Committee. The Committee application process was open from September 9, 2010 to December 31, 2010. Screening of the applications was completed by the facilities subcommittee of the Board. Discussed below are the legal issues related to the Committee and operational guidelines which the Committee would operate under.
On November 7, 2000, California voters approved Proposition 39, the Smaller Classes, Safer Schools and Financial Accountability Act (School Facilities; 55% Local Vote; Bonds, Taxes; Accountability Requirements). Within the text of Proposition 39 various accountability requirements, including requirements for certain types of audits, were specifically required. Assembly Bill 1908 (“AB 1908”), which provided additional requirements relative to school district general obligation bond elections conducted pursuant to Proposition 39. Those requirements included provisions for school districts conducting Proposition 39 elections and thereafter establishing and appointing members to a Citizens Oversight Committee (“Committee” or “Citizens Oversight Committee”), as required by Education Code Section 15278.
Purpose of the Committee
As stated by AB 1908, the purpose of the Committee shall be to inform the public at least annually in a written report concerning the expenditure of the bond proceeds. In carrying out this purpose the Committee shall:
(a) Actively review and report on the proper expenditure of taxpayers’ money for school construction
(b) Advise the public as to whether the school district is in compliance with the requirements of Article XIIIA, Section 1(b)(3) of the California Constitution, which provides that:
(i) Bond funds are expended only for the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or replacement of school facilities, including the furnishing and equipping of school facilities, or the acquisition or lease of real property for school facilities
(ii) No bond funds are used for any teacher or administrative salaries or other school operating expenses
(iii) A list of projects to be funded was included on the ballot
(iv) An annual independent performance audit is performed
(v) An annual independent financial audit is performed
Committee Appointment and Membership
Education Code Section 15278(a) requires that if the bond measure called pursuant to Proposition 39 and the related legislation is successful, the Committee must be established, and the initial members of the Committee must be established within sixty (60) days after the date that the governing board of the school district enters the results of the bond election on its minutes. The governing board of the school district also appoints the members of the Committee. The governing board of the school district may also adopt policies, guidelines and procedures to be applicable to the Committee once it is established. We recommend that the policies, guidelines and procedures be adopted before the members of the Committee are selected. The Committee shall consist of at least seven (7) members to serve for a term of two (2) years, without compensation, and for no more than two (2) consecutive terms. The Committee may not include any employer or official of the school district or any vendor, contractor, or consultant of the school district. The Committee must include all of the following:
(a) One member who is active in a business organization representing the business community located within the school district
(b) One member active in a senior citizen’s organization
(c) One member active in a bona fide taxpayer association
(d) For a school district, one member shall be the parent or guardian of a child enrolled in the district. For a community college district, one member shall be a student who is both currently enrolled in the district and active in a community college group, such as student government. The community college student member may, at the discretion of the board, serve up to six months after his or her graduation
(e) For a school district, one member shall be both a parent or guardian of a child enrolled in the district and active in a parent-teacher organization, such as the Parent Teacher Association or School Site Council
Citizens Oversight Committee once they pass a general obligation bond measure pursuant to the provisions of Proposition 39 and the related legislation. Members of the Committee are expressly subject to the requirements and limitations of Government Code Section 1090, et seq. (which prohibits involvement in public agency contracts) and Government Code Section 1125, et seq. (which prohibits incompatible public offices). It may be desirable to provide copies of the statutory provisions to members of the Committee and to incorporate them within the Committee guidelines or policy.
Activities of the Committee
The Committee may engage in any of the following activities in furtherance of its purpose:
(a) Receive and review copies of the annual performance audit (as prepared pursuant to the requirements of Proposition 39)
(b) Receive and review copies of the annual financial audit (as prepared pursuant to the requirements of Proposition 39)
(c) Inspect school facilities and grounds to insure that bond funds are expended for the purposes set forth in the bond measure approved by the voters
(d) Receive and review copies of any deferred maintenance proposal or plans developed by the school district
(e) Review efforts by the school district to maximize bond revenues by implementing cost-saving measures, including, but not limited to:
(i) Mechanisms designed to reduce the cost of professional fees
(ii) Mechanisms designed to reduce the costs of site preparation
(iii) Recommendations regarding the joint use of core facilities
(iv) Mechanisms designed to reduce costs by incorporating efficiencies in
school site design.
(v) Recommendations regarding the use of cost-effective and efficient
(f) The Committee shall issue regular reports of the results of its activities.
The Committee must issue at least one report each year.
Meeting Procedures of the Committee
(a) Regular meeting dates, time, and place shall be established by the Committee and published/posted in accordance with the Ralph M. Brown Act and applicable school district procedures. All Committee proceedings shall be open to the public and shall be subject to the provisions of the Ralph M. Brown Act (the same statutes that govern school district governing board meetings)
(b) All documents received by the Committee and reports issued by the Committee shall be a matter of public record
District Support of the Committee
The governing board of the school district, without any use of bond funds, must provide the Committee with:
(a) Any necessary technical assistance and administrative assistance in furtherance
of the Committee’s purpose
(b) Sufficient resources to publicize the conclusions of the Committee (including
establishing, operating and updating the Committee Internet Website)
Committee Internet Website
Education Code Section 15280(b) requires that certain documents relating to the Committee be made available on an Internet Website maintained by the school district. The cost to operate, maintain and update the Internet Website is the responsibility of the school district. The Website may be included within an existing Website operated by the school district or may be operated separately. The following documents and information must appear on the Committee Internet Website:
(a) Minutes of Committee meetings
(b) Reports issued by the Committee
(c) Documents received by the Committee
(a) The Committee should provide for minutes of its meetings to be taken. Minutes of such meetings are a matter of public record and must be posted on the Committee Internet Website.
(b) Regular attendance by Committee members is essential to effective operation of the Committee and timely implementation of bond projects. If a Committee member is unable to attend regularly scheduled meetings, the school district’s governing board may appoint a replacement for that member on recommendation of the school district’s Superintendent. After a Committee member has had 2 consecutive absences without reasonable excuses, the Committee should recommend that the school district’s governing board remove the member from the panel and seek a replacement. The replacement member must represent the required Committee membership background, as shall be applicable.
(c) Committee actions and decisions should be made and recorded as individual votes, noting the Committee member’s name and vote on a particular matter. Committee decisions should be by majority vote of the members of the Committee present, provided that there is a quorum.
(d) Parents, community members, and news media representatives should be encouraged to attend Committee meetings.
(e) Members of the public attending Committee meetings shall have an opportunity to address the Committee (this is required under the Brown Act).
(f) The Annual Report by the Committee shall be presented to the school district governing board at a regularly scheduled meeting.
(g) The relevant education codes do not provide that a Committee has the authority to override, or veto, any school district determination to expend bond funds in a particular manner.