What Can a Bond Oversight Committee Member Do When the District Spends Money on Projects Not Authorized or Are Questionable in Nature?


FAQ 11

What Can a Bond Oversight Committee Member Do

When the District Spends Money on Projects Not

Authorized or are Questionable in Nature?

The Constitution requires that the bond measure contain a “specific list of projects to be funded”. The arguable intent of this language is the voter has a specific idea of how the money is be spent and not be expended on undefined or “pet projects” of elected officials.

The dilemma facing those who oversee bond measures is that a ballot measure will often contain a list of projects (sometimes more than what can be funded with the amount of bonds) as well as a generic paragraph(s) that contain statements such as “repair, renovation upgrading, lighting and electrical systems, HVAC systems……repair, renovation, modernization, and construction of new classrooms” without specific guidance on the location or dollar amount of expenditures.

These generic descriptions are often used to justify most any expenditure. For instance, the ballot language could state a school was to construct a “multipurpose room” and yet the actual project ended up being a “Performing Arts Center”. The problem is the law does not provide much teeth or force to prohibit such expenditures other than filing an injunction/restraining order pursuant to the Waste Fraud and Prevention Action. (Education Code Section 15284)

Under the Waste Fraud and Prevention Act an injunction can be filed by any taxpayer who pays taxes with the school bond area. There are three main reasons for such an action:

  • Expenditures that are not authorized by the Constitution such as payment of teacher or administrative salaries
  • Expenditure on projects that were not authorized in the bond language presented to the voters
  • Willfully failing to appoint a bond oversight committee that meets all the statutory requirements, such as not having a business, senior citizen, student, parent, or taxpayer representative.

The action seeks a restraining order to prevent expenditure of funds.