In 2008, Del Norte County voters approved the Measure A school bond initiative. The school board immediately established a Citizen’s Oversight Committee to simply serve as the eyes and ears of the public to assure that taxes collected for school bonds are spent carefully and appropriately.
Since January 2009, the first members selected by the school board from an applicant pool of 30 have served on the COC and recently started their final two-year term. In December 2010, the school board voted to increase the size of the COC to 13, appointing four new members in February 2011.
Five COC members provide representation for specific groups as required by law. I serve as a parent on the Bess Maxwell School Site Council to satisfy the requirement of including a parent who serves on a School Site Council.
Paul Dillard, a member of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers’ Association, serves as the required member of a bone fide taxpayers’ association.
Ron Sandler, owner of Del Norte Ambulance, represents Del Norte County’s business owners
At-large members Larry Retzlaff and Jim Coston (new) are both proud grandparents of school-aged children. New at-large members Brent Hoskinson, Jay Freeman, and Frank Magarino are all either parents of school-aged children or have children growing quickly toward school age.
Second-term at-large members Roger White and Bob Dytewski each bring a background in architecture, construction, and project management. The board is currently seeking a representative from a local senior citizens’ organization. (Interested? Call 464-0200 for an application.)
Our COC meets four times a year. All COC meetings are held at the school district’s main office, and all are open to the public. At the first meeting of the newly-enlarged COC, held March 29, 2011, we were reminded of our role to provide oversight, not direction, for school bond funds. We also reviewed the possible uses of bond funds: No bond funds may be expended for activities other than those described on the November 2008 ballot, and none may be spent on personnel costs unless directly related to implementing bond-funded projects. (For a full list of projects, check the COC section of the school district’s web page at delnorte.k12.ca.us. There you will also find meeting dates and agendas, and soon, before and after photos of projects.)
In August 2010, the original COC members published the first Report to the Community, as the law stipulates. In that report, we outlined the bond expenditures through June 2010. At our next meeting on June 6, 2011, we will review a draft of the second Report to the Community, to be signed and distributed in August 2011.
COC members agree that the school district leaders and the school board have proceeded with care throughout the past two years, tackling concerns related to school safety first, including district-wide wiring for technology to assure safe Internet use for students and staff and to guarantee the security of digital student records. We appreciate that as often as possible, they have also leveraged other funding, such as federal ARRA funds for replacing school refrigerator/freezers at Crescent Elk and installing a generator in the Transportation Department to allow for fueling of emergency vehicles and school buses even during a power outage.
The final big task of the first $5 million in bond funds sold will be the construction of the Smith River gym this summer. The ambitious list of school-by-school projects, including new roofing and HVAC systems, will be spaced over the coming eight to 10 years as additional bonds are sold. The district will tackle the needs of each school one at a time, so that the Department of the State Architect (DSA) will not tack on a new list of demands each time a new project is launched. This way, each school will go to DSA once, giving DSA only that one opportunity to make the kind of demands that can cause costs to skyrocket.
The public can contact COC members with questions or concerns. As chair, I am happy to receive questions or calls by U.S. mail, email, or telephone. Send mail to COC Chairman Angela Reese-Goughnour, c/o DNCUSD, 310 W. Washington Blvd., Crescent City, CA 95531. We all look forward to our work of guarding the taxpayers’ best interests as Measure A is implemented.
Angela Reese-Goughnour is chairwoman of the Measure A Citizens’ Oversight Committee.