What’s Wrong with the WCCUSD Citizens Bond Oversight Committee

WCCUSD has a Citizens Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) as a statu­to­ri­ally re­quired part of the District’s bond con­struc­tion pro­gram. Generally, peo­ple who like an ex­tremely ex­pan­sive bond pro­gram think the CBOC is do­ing great; those who pre­fer a less ex­pan­sive pro­gram think it is do­ing — not so great. For an “over­sight” com­mit­tee, this is a def­i­nite red flag that some­thing might be wrong with the CBOC.

What kind of fac­tors might be mak­ing the CBOC less ef­fec­tive? I’ll touch on a few be­low, but keep in mind that the ul­ti­mate ac­count­abil­ity for the bond con­struc­tion pro­gram is on the School Board, which has the power to make the de­ci­sions about bond ex­pen­di­tures.

The Scope of the CBOC

There has been a lot of quib­bling about what the scope of the CBOC is. Any rea­son­able per­son who looks at the Ed. Code pro­vi­sions gov­ern­ing CBOC and ap­plies a lit­tle bit of com­mon sense, can see that the scope of CBOC is es­sen­tially lim­it­less con­cern­ing the ex­pen­di­tures of bond monies. This doesn’t mean that de­ci­sions have to be vet­ted first through CBOC be­fore a de­ci­sion can move through the pipeline that leads to a School Board de­ci­sion, but, if the CBOC does want to look at a de­ci­sion at any point in the pipeline with­out this be­ing a re­quire­ment for a de­ci­sion mov­ing through the pipeline, it’s the CBOC’s de­ci­sion to make. For CBOC to be ef­fec­tive, the broad scope of the CBOC in­ter­est in the bond pro­gram has to be ac­cepted.

The Stance of the CBOC

The com­mit­tee is de­fined as an “over­sight” com­mit­tee in its ti­tle. This im­plies a cer­tain crit­i­cal dis­tance be­tween the the com­mit­tee and the bond pro­gram. This is not what has been hap­pen­ing. Instead, the CBOC has evolved into some­thing of a booster club for bond ex­pen­di­tures in the District. There might be some place for such a group, but it should be sep­a­rate from CBOC. For CBOC to be ef­fec­tive, this crit­i­cal dis­tance needs to be as­serted.

Packing of the Committee

The Ed. Code de­scribes a com­mit­tee with a min­i­mum of 7 mem­bers con­sist­ing of cer­tain types of mem­bers. The WCCUSD CBOC in­cludes more than 20 mem­bers con­sist­ing of a large va­ri­ety of mem­bers. This tends to make the com­mit­tee more un­wieldy from the the sheet weight and main­te­nance ef­fort from such a large group. It also di­lutes the ef­fect of the statu­to­ri­ally re­quired types of mem­bers. A mem­ber who “shall be ac­tive in a bona fide tax­pay­ers’ or­ga­ni­za­tion” is much less ef­fec­tive as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of that per­spec­tive as 1 of 20 or so other mem­bers ver­sus be­ing 1 of 7 mem­bers. For CBOC to be ef­fec­tive as an over­sight com­mit­tee, the mem­ber­ship should be slimmed down to 7 to 9 mem­bers.

Laws Related to CBOC