Providing Services for Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committees
2023 Legislative Proposal • Fact Sheet
Background In 2000, the voters passed Proposition 39 (2000) to address several school facilities-related issues. One provision in Prop 39 allowed voters in local school districts to approve local school bond measures with a 55% vote. But suppose residents approved a local school bond measure by a 55% vote (instead of a 2/3 vote). In that case, that district must establish an “independent” citizens’ bond oversight committee (CBOC) to oversee how the bond money is spent.
The Promise of Independence Following Prop 39, related statutes and countless local bond measures across California have promised voters the appointment of “independent” CBOC members who have the authority to exercise “strict oversight” of how the bonds dollars are spent. With $181 billion in local school bonds approved by voters under Prop 39, there are now more than 500 CBOCs in California.
The Reality Doesn’t Meet the Promise In practice, many CBOCs are neither independent nor capable of exercising meaningful oversight responsibilities. The school board or administration often manages the CBOC, they never meet, or the members have not been appointed.
The Little Hoover Commission explored this issue in 2017, and one witness testified before them and remarked that “the watchdog has no bite.” The Little Hoover Commission has pulled no punches in calling for legislation to “update and overhaul the Education Code related to the Strict Accountability in Local School Construction Bonds Act of 2000,” known as Prop 39.
It is long past time for California legislators to take action to fulfill Prop 39’s promises of independence, accountability, and effective citizen oversight of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds now spent every
year on school facilities.
Proposed Legislation: To Assure Greater Independence CABOC proposes legislation that aligns with the Little Hoover Commission’s recommendations to affirm the independence of CBOCs and bolster their effectiveness. This proposal is consistent with the general principles found in Education Code §15264, which requires “vigorous efforts are undertaken [to ensure] that bond measures are in strict conformity to the law.”
CABOC’s proposed changes include the following:
- Require the California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission (CDIAC) to work with CABOC to develop easy-to-access online training materials for local citizens’ bond oversight committees and their members.
- Strengthen the independence of CBOCs by specifying that each CBOC must adopt by-laws consistent with CBOC control over their process and rules of operation.
- Strengthen bond program audit requirements and expand the role of CBOCs in selecting and interacting with auditors.
- Require bond ballot language to refer to specific projects in the district’s facility master plan instead of highly generalized projects, such as “safety upgrades” or “technology improvements.”
- Make CBOC membership selection and appointment more transparent, open, and merit-based.
- Require districts to provide adequate funds for CBOCs to fulfill their mission of reporting to the general public by enabling bond revenues to be used to fund the cost of independent legal counsel for a CBOC, to train CBOC members, and to maintain a website to display meeting agendas and reports prominently.
Strong Bond Oversight Support
Little Hoover Commission, Report: June 2009, Bond Spending: Expanding & Enhancing Oversight
Little Hoover Commission, Report #236, February 2017,
Borrowed Money: Opportunities for Stronger Bond Oversight
Both of these reports were based on testimony from taxpayers and other organizations, including Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
- League of Women Voters of California,
- California State PTA,
- California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors,
- Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team,
- State Controller,
- State Auditor,
- State Allocation Board
- Education Audit Appeal Panel
CABOC Purpose “The California Association of Bond Oversight Committees is dedicated to the proposition that taxpayers deserve information on proper school bond expenditures through facilitation of independent citizens’ bond oversight committees in accordance with the passage of Proposition 39 (School Facilities. 55% Local Vote. Bonds, Taxes. Accountability Requirements.) Our mission is to develop and deliver support for thorough oversight through training, newsletters, conferences and workshops; and to represent our collective interests at the statewide level to benefit all Californians.”
- Best Practices Bond Oversight Committees
- Best Practices Handbook CASH 2003
- Bond Audit Reports
- Bond Directory
- Bonds Clearinghouse
- Bond Premium
- California Audit Guide
- California Civil Grand Juries
History Law and How They Operate
- CBOC Legal Codes
- Certified Public Accountants
- Corrupt Practices 35233
- Debt Financing Guide
- Division of State Architect
- Ed Code – Bond Oversight
General Provisions 15264 – 15276
- Evaluation of Bond Measure
- Grand Jury Reports
- Legal Codes
- Legislative Bills
- Little Hoover Commission 2017
- Little Hoover Commission 2009
- Little Hoover Commission 1999 LAUSD
- Little Hoover Commission’s Purpose
- Management Plan
- Open Meetings (Brown Act)
- Oversight Committee Best Practices
- Project Tracking (CA Grants)
- Proposition 39
- Proposition 39 Voters Guide
- Public Forum Law
- Public Records Request
- Publics Right to Know
- Recommendations for Improvement
- Rules of Order Robert’s
- Rules of Order Rosenberg’s
- Salaries Bond Projects
- School Accounting Manual
- School Bond Study
- State Audits CBOC
- Strict Accountability in Local School Construction Act of 2000
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Membership Application: become a member of CABOC; it’s free and gives members the right to elect directors at the annual January membership meeting.
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$180.8 Billion Proposition 39 School Bonds Approved by Voters