Mystery Education Theater 3000


One New Guy, One “Repeat Offender” for Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee


Bill Kelly is on the school board agenda to become a new CBOC member as a nominee of the Hercules City Council; Tim Warner is on the same agenda to be appointed to a second term.

The West Contra Costa Unified School District Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee has 19 seats. Currently, there are 16 appointed members with 1 member finishing his term and needing to be renewed. There are three empty seats, all “city” seats: Hercules, San Pablo, and Richmond. (Check the roster for the full run-down on membership.)

It’s the responsibility of the school district to fill the positions. Sadly, they don’t tell the CBOC leadership anything beforehand about appointment activity, because that would be…too normal. As committee secretary, I just check the agendas as they come out to the public. If there is a new person on the agenda, I do some internet tracking if necessary to get their contact info.

In the next WCCUSD School Board meeting agenda, I can see two CBOC appointments. Tim Warner is up for renewal. He has been a good contributor to our committee, so I’m glad that he’s continuing. Bill Kelly is also on the agenda as a new appointee having been nominated by the City of Hercules. He’s on the city council. Hopefully, the time demands of his council seat won’t interfere too much with attendance at CBOC meetings.

Note: Other groups and individuals nominate people for CBOC, but appointment to the CBOC is approved by the school board.

Budget and Schedule Are the Hobgoblins of Small Minds

It started at our WCCUSD CBOC meeting in January as this agenda item:

F.2 Budget Adjustments to Bond Program (tabled at December meeting)
The Board of Education has just approved $26 million in budget increases for bond projects.
Why did this happen and what sort of controls are in place to prevent this from reoccurring.
Submitted as a question by the CBOC Chair to Bill Fay on 1/20/14.

This had earlier elicited this brief written statement from Mr. Fay, WCCUSD Chief Operations Officer:

The WCCUSD Bond program is scope driven that delivers outstanding facilities that meets the express needs of each school community.

As such, all projects receive the most current design standards, technologies, educational specifications and equipment without regard to project timing. The program also moves forward without regard to contractor bidding climate and does not “value engineer” any scope. The remedy requires a change in
the number of projects that can be accomplished.

When the matter came up, Mr. Fay did not detail how this philosophy led specifically to the $29M shortfall, but instead expanded on the philosophy of scope-based budgeting at least as used in this district: spend without limit on projects until you run out of money -> bump remaining projects to the next bond -> get the next bond.

It’s all in this recording of Mr. Fay with some comments by Martin Coyne along with comments by committee members. It’s only 9 minutes; it’s worth a listen.

Update (5/22/2014):

  • The meeting date was January 29th, 2014.
  • The full meeting recording by district staff is still on the podcast site at this page.

Recording from 5-30-2012 CBOC Meeting Is Up

I’ve posted the official audio recording for the May 30, 2012 WCCUSD Citizens Bond Oversight Committee on the site I maintain for these recordings. The recording can be downloaded as a podcast or a sound file or be listened to online. Highlights from the recording:

  • Starting around 4 minutes and 15 seconds – Minutes review included a question from Kris Hunt about why the minutes go through so many revisions even before the committee sees them. Kris Hunt also objected to a critical comment she had made at the last meeting being left out of the minutes. She made the comment under Public Comment, but in the minutes it just said “NONE” under Public Comment. Instead of just being fixed, this led to some discussion first.
  • 15:11 – Under chair’s report, Robert Studdiford did some sort of eulogy for recently deceased County Supervisor Gayle Uilkema whom he didn’t seem to know. Then he switched to something about subcommittee e-mails being public and that this was something to be on-guard about. He then mentioned me by name. After the meeting, I confirmed that he didn’t like me posting this e-mail online to link to in other e-mails. (The thread for that e-mail included the whole WCCUSD school board.)
  • 29:00 –  This was the beginning of our Brown Act training session. The attorney making the presentation seemed to be a little bit more focused on getting around the Brown Act, etc. instead of just following it, but listen and judge for yourself.

More Stuff: Bond Oversight Committee Recordings

I’ve always been annoyed by the fact that, even though staff makes recordings of our WCCUSD Citizens Bond Oversight Committee meetings, no one seemed to be able to get a hold of them. Then (supposedly) they are destroyed after being used to draft minutes. Not very useful for the rest of us.

After a lot of work, I think can get them regularly now. As of today, I have recordings of the last two meetings.

The next step was finding a way to make them available. For this, I’m trying a service called Podomatic. It gives you 500Mb of free storage and packages the sound files as podcasts. Just use a special link to get to the podcast page:

From this page you can listen to a recording, subscribe to the recordings, or download them. A multi- or single-track players can easily be embedded like this:

I’ll see how this works out.

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