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.