May a CBOC Only Review Bond Expenditures After They Occur, Review Plans for Future Spending, and Other Associated Topics?

FAQ 13

May a CBOC Only Review Bond Expenditures

After They Occur, Review Plans for Future

Spending, and Other Associated Topics?

Answer: CABOC believes that CBOCs may review expenditures at all steps of the process from immediately following the passage of the school construction bond ballot measure and the establishment of the CBOC until after the last payment.

The specific responsibilities of the CBOC are found in the California Education Code §15278:

(b) The purpose of the citizens’ oversight committee shall be to inform the public concerning the expenditure of bond revenues. The citizens’ oversight committee shall actively review and report on the proper payment of taxpayers’ money for school construction.

Note that the statutory provision discussed what the CBOC should do but not when it should do it.

In significant construction programs and projects, it is exceeding essential to start right, keep going straight, and identify and correct any problems as soon as possible. It is far superior to solve problems when they are small early in the process rather than wait until later  when they are much bigger problems that will be far more difficult, expensive, and take more time to correct.

For example, consider a district that decided to expend Prop. 39 school construction bond funds for a purpose that was not allowed by the applicable statutes, such as for teacher compensation, or chose to spend funds for a school construction purpose that was not identified, as required, in the detail of the ballot measure presented to the electorate.

If the CBOC was not informed and not allowed to research such expenditures until after the spending was underway, such improper conduct could produce high costs before detection. Suppose the original plan of spending and any revisions to the program of projects were to be presented to the CBOC before the Board adopted them. The potential violation could be identified and questioned, while the unallowable spending was relatively minor.

Some districts will present the program of projects for a proposed new ballot issue to their existing CBOC for comments and recommendations before the Board adopts it.

Another important consideration is the ability of a district to plan appropriately, design, construct, and place into service its construction program and individual projects. It is generally accepted that, before such major programs get underway, the district should have in place:

  1. A well-experienced team of qualified program and project managers.
  2. Proper systems to ensure that the program and projects are adequately managed, reported on, and overseen.

“Proper expenditure of taxpayers’ money” must be understood to include not just that all statutes and other requirements are not violated, but that the funds be spent wisely and with minimum waste. Therefore, reviewing the staffing and systems early in the process and, as needed, on an on-going basis, is a very justifiable function for CBOCs.