Watchdogs wanted to monitor school bond money disbursements

Marsha Sutton
Marsha Sutton

By Marsha Sutton

This may be local education’s most boring, yet perhaps most important, lead in a column ever written:

“Applications are now being accepted for those interested in serving on San Dieguito Union High School District’s Proposition AA Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee (ICOC). Information and the application form are available now on the district’s website [http://www.sduhsd.net/]. Anyone wishing to serve has until Friday, Feb 8 to complete and submit an application.”

It may not sound sexy, but there are thousands of people residing within the boundaries of the San Dieguito district who’d be very grateful if residents with knowledge and experience would offer their time and expertise to be a watchdog and protect how millions of tax dollars are about to be spent.

The narrow passage of Proposition AA in November allowed San Dieguito to issue $449 million in bonds, with the requirement that an oversight committee be formed to monitor and ensure proper expenditure of taxpayer money and report to the school board and the public on its findings.

The ICOC has two primary functions:

  1. To ensure that bond revenues are expended only for the purposes of construction, renovation or replacement of school facilities, including the furnishing and equipping of school facilities, or the acquisition or lease of real property for school facilities.
  2. To ensure that no funds are used for any employees’ salaries or other school operating expenses.

Meetings of the ICOC are public, subject to the provisions of the Ralph M. Brown Act and held quarterly. The committee is required to issue regular reports. These reports, meeting minutes and all documents will be part of the public record and made available on the district’s website.

Members must live within district boundaries and are appointed for two-year terms without compensation. Applicants need to file a Statement of Economic Interests form with the Fair Political Practices Commission, which will be made public.

Applicants also need to explain why they would like to serve on the ICOC, provide their qualifications and educational background, state membership in any civic organizations, provide a list of community service, and be willing to attend all meetings.

The ICOC must have no fewer than seven members, and must include someone from each of these five categories:

•An individual in a bona fide taxpayers’ organization

•An individual active in a business organization located within the district

•An individual active in a senior citizens’ organization

•A parent of a district student, who is active in a parent-teacher organization

•A parent/guardian of a district student

Eric Dill, San Dieguito’s associate superintendent of business services, said the San Diego County Taxpayers Association is assisting the district in finding qualified candidates for the taxpayers category. And a business organization, he said, can be a Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club, for example.

The senior citizens group, however, is more difficult to quantify, he said. “They have to belong to some organization that represents senior interests,” he said. And it can’t be AARP. An example, Dill said, might be a retirement community located within the district that has a Homeowners Association.

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