The Star-News

School district slow to answer

Sat, Jun 23 2012 12:00 PM Posted By: Allison K. Sampité

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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