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Group to Address Oversight For Contra Costa School Bonds

The public is welcome to attend a Martinez organizational meeting of California League of Bond Oversight Committees, volunteers looking at the level of debt issued for county school districts' construction projects.

A group of local activists concerned about procedures for school bond projects is planning an organizational meeting Saturday morning in Martinez.

The California League of Bond Oversight Committees is announcing the formation of the Contra Costa County Chapter of CaLBOC, which will hold an organizational meeting on Saturday.

The meeting will include information from a Contra Costa County Grand Jury report on school bond debt for various districts. The report, issued in May, raised concerns about the burden of overall bond indebtedness on taxpayers.

The 13-page report, attached to this article, includes 16 findings and 12 recommendations for the governing boards of nine school districts that have passed bond measures since 2000. The districts are:

Acalanes Union School District, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, Antioch Unified School District, Byron Union School District, Contra Costa Community College District, John Swett Unified School District, Martinez Unified School District, Pittsburg Unified School District, and West Contra Costa Unified School District.

With the passage of Prop. 39 in 2000, voters allowed the issuance of bond debt by a 55 percent majority instead of the previous two-thirds requirement. The lower vote margin applies only to bonds that would finance construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation or replacement of school facilities. The proposition also required public oversight on expenditures for bond-financed projects.

Voters have approved over $3 billion dollars of school facility bonds in Contra Costa County since the passage of Prop. 39.

The amount of bond debt approved for facilities in Contra Costa County school districts since 2000 range from $20 million for the Walnut Creek Elementary School District to $1.23 billion for the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

The grand jury findings also discuss bond language, conflict of interest issues in the selection of bond oversight committee members, inadequate training and resource materials for oversight committees, and performance audits that are so limited that they don’t provide effective oversight.

CaLBOC provides support and training for CBOC members. It is an all-volunteer, non-partisan association of CBOC members, current and past, who are interested in helping other CBOC members. CBOC volunteers may be overseeing multi-million dollar school bond projects with inadequate support and training.

To register and for more information visit: http://www.ccccalboc.eventbrite.com
Saturday's meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday at La Tapatia Mexican Restaurant, 536 Main Street in Martinez.

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