School board discusses plan for Measure C oversight | July 3, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - July 3, 2009

School board discusses plan for Measure C oversight

Members question committee's mandate

by Geoff Gillette

With the May 5 passage of Measure C, members of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education are faced with living up to the assurances given in the ballot language that a committee be created to oversee disbursement of the funds.

At their June 23 meeting, board members discussed what the oversight committee would do and how it would function. The committee would consist of five residents with children in the district and four residents without children enrolled. Terms would be three years although parents would leave if their child no longer attended district schools. The group's mandate would be to review the district's expenditures of Measure C generated funds.

Board member Greg Marvel questioned whether that "after the fact" oversight is what the ballot language mandated.

"Yes, we'll have an independent audit, but the horse has already left the barn," he said.

Marvel compared the Measure C committee with the Facilities Oversight Committee, which examines expenditures before they are approved.

Trustee Paul Gardner disagreed, saying that he does not believe it is necessary to structure the committee as a body that will give approval to budget decisions.

"This is another level of audit," he stated. "I don't think it was intended, nor is it practical, to put expenditures before this committee."

Marvel responded, "I'm not saying the committee needs to replace this board. I want to make sure that the spirit of the measure is honored."

He added, "Approving an independent auditor's report doesn't have the oomph. I don't want supporters coming back and criticizing us over this."

According to Marvel, the ballot language itself seems to indicate that the committee's purview is how the funds are used

'Are spent' implies to me concurrent or pre - I think from a legal perspective that's a critical difference," he said.

Rachel Hurd, a board member and the co-chairwoman of the Measure C campaign, agreed that the committee's mandate should precede the disbursement of the funds.

"My vision is that they would be plugged into the budget development process," she explained.

Board President Bill Clarkson presented the toughest question, asking what the board will do if the economic situation worsens and they are forced to make decisions counter to what the oversight committee suggests.

"I think that some of these people are going to feel strongly about certain programs," he said.

Gardner pointed to the ballot language for the answer.

"We never said we would spend money on any specific programs," he said.

They also discussed how to form the committee.

"I don't think we should cherry pick this committee," said Clarkson." I think it should be a broad selection. And I think we'd better be ready for them to criticize us."

School Superintendent Steve Enoch said staff would take the concerns of the board into consideration and would craft a resolution that would be brought back for the August meeting.