OUSD lays groundwork for bond oversight committee

By Sentry Staff

The  Orange  Unified  School Board approved the formation of a citizens bond oversight committee, tasked to monitor the district’s use of the $288 million generated by taxpayers if Measure S passes in November.

The law requires a school district to create an oversight committee after a bond measure is passed by 55 percent of voters. Because OUSD wants to assure transparency, it hopes to announce the members of the committee prior to the election. OUSD staff plans to review applications and present the board with a slate of candidates at its Sept. 8 meeting.

As approved, the committee will consist of seven members, including a representative from the business community, a senior citizen’s organization, a taxpayer’s organization, a parent or guardian of a child enrolled in OUSD, a parent or guardian of an OUSD student who is also active in a parent teacher organization, and two at large members from the general public. No one with a direct connection to the district is eligible to serve.

The committee’s primary duties are to review independent financial and performance audits annually. It is also encouraged to visit school facilities and grounds. The committee is charged with ensuring that bond revenue is spent on construction, refurbishment, equipment or furnishings for school facilities, and alert the public of any waste or improper expenditures.

The committee is, however, advisory only.  If it does find any questionable expenditure of bond funds, it has no legal recourse to correct the misuse. According to a legal expert who addressed the board during the ill-fated Measure K campaign two years ago, a private citizen would have to challenge any unauthorized expenses in court; the committee could not do it.

The board voted 6-0 to approve the procedures, policies and guidelines of the committee, Aug. 11. Trustee John Ortega was not at the meeting. Ortega, who is running for reelection, has missed six of the 11 board meetings held this year.