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School district slow to answer Allison K. Sampité | Sat, Jun 23 2012 12:00 PM

The chairman of Sweetwater Union High School District's Bond Oversight Committee is still looking for answers from district officials following several months of inquiries related to Prop. O bond measure monies.

“When SGI was the program manager, we were getting a lot of information, but the numbers didn’t add up,” Bernardo Vasquez said. “Since the district took over we’ve gotten little to no reports from the district. We want to be able to follow the money and we can’t.”

SGI is the former program and construction management firm that was contracted with the district to oversee Prop. O.

Vasquez said he and committee member David Butler met with district dhief financial officer Dianne Russo and planning and construction director Paul Woods in January.

“They gave us some samples of reports on a school-by-school basis,” Vasquez said. “They itemized funding for each school. It was a very nice and detailed report and at the end showed us a projected balance available after the work was done.” But that was then.

Vasquez said he plans to present the committee’s financial report at the next regular board meeting in July.

“How are we supposed to know how money is being allocated when we don’t know what’s going on?” he said. “The information we’ve been expecting, such as staffing costs and the organizational chart — we don’t have. We’ve been asking for these consistently all year.”

In addition, Vasquez asked for information relating to the bond program structure, who it is that makes Prop. O decisions and the amount of time spent on Prop. O by district staff.

“This has probably taken 10 times more than I would have ever expected,” Vasquez said.

Superintendent Dr. Ed Brand chimed in at the last board meeting when Vasquez gave his report.

“We don’t want to make any excuses … the information that they request will be given to them,” Brand said.

At the board meeting, Vasquez recommended a joint meeting with the committee and board of trustees.

“My suggestion is to have a community forum to find out how money is being spent regarding Prop. O,” he said. “I believe we as a committee and in the community are owed this.”

The committee is in place to help assure the public that Prop. O funds will be spent in a wise and effective manner.

With oversight as its priority, members monitor and publicly report on the expenditure of bond funds, ensuring they are properly spent on facility needs according to Prop. O bond language.

Follow Allison on Twitter: @starnewschisme.

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anniej Says:

Fri, Jun 29 2012 09:06 PM

Soscal: i have this question:

brand was not here when the dirt was dumped - so why should telling the taxpayers pose such a problem? could it be that he is trying to protect someone?

now who could that be??????? - who at the district is so important to him that he would be willing to risk be being perceived as someone who would choose to mislead the community.

sosocal Says:

Mon, Jun 25 2012 06:05 PM

Proposition: if you have nothing to hide, you will release the information, Dr. Brand!

If you do not release the information, you have something to hide.

Ergo, you compound your difficulties by not coming clean at the earliest opportunity.

Now, wouldn't you think someone with a doctorate would know that?

I think they are trying to teach those lessons in kindergarted, if not preschool these days.

If there is something that Dr. Brand does not understand regarding the release of documents that the public is entitled to, which branch of government should be responsible to ensure the conveyance of the aforesaid documents? Judicial, perhaps?

Should Dr. Brand go back to school? He seems to have forgotten way too many lessons.

anniej Says:

Sat, Jun 23 2012 10:18 PM

not quite understanding how close to 6 months can go by without those charged with overseeing our prop o bond dollars would have financial documents withheld to them.

brand's statement, makes no sense, :the information will be given to them"- ? perhaps brand can open up just a little bit more and explain why IT WAS NOT GIVEN TO THEM. why did they to ask for it, monthly for close to 6 months. not until Mr. Vasquez went public was he taken seriously. the three current committee members are most knowledgeable and are not insiders. the two new members who just arrived are cut from the same mold of integrityl

the big problem for the district centers around the fact that these current members of the BOC are not what you might call hand picked. while there have been other good decent persons who joined in the past, they either quit (because they finally realized what was going on as well as the fact that the negative press was hurting them) or termed out. historically there were several other hand picked members - lets see one under prop bb was the husband of a board member (guess which one), there was an alleged sorority sister of one of the board members (guess which one), a board member of another school district and friend of 'the gandara'.

gone are the days when brand will be able to smooth talk the issue away. this group will want the facts, to see them, to review them, to pick 'em apart, to really get to the core of what is going on.

taxpayers of the south bay, these are YOUR dollars, it is time for the district to explain just what in the hell happened.

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