The Goleta Union School District met for a special board meeting Tuesday evening with a financial consultant and lawyers specializing in school bond programs.
The district did not take action during the meeting because it was purely informational.
Financial advisor Dale Scott of Dale Scott & Company, Inc. presented the difference between short- and long-term programs. Compressing the construction into a handful of years will spend taxpayer money on interest, and expanding long-term will save on interest while risking the inflation of construction costs.
Administrators have flexibility with bond measure M2020’s timing because it proposes smaller projects across school sites instead of one large construction project.
Janet Mueller, an attorney at Dannis, Woliver, Kelley Law Firm, explained the first steps the district will take: certifying the election results and appointing a citizens oversight committee.
To certify the passing of M2020, the district will write it into its legal meeting minutes and send a resolution to the Board of Supervisors. Ms. Mueller recommended April as a good time.
Once they certify the election, administrators have 60 days to appoint a citizens oversight committee, a group of community members that check on the program’s finances.
“The citizens oversight committee really has an audit rather than an advisory function,” Ms. Mueller said.
The committee won’t make decisions but will verify that the district’s actions are legal.
The district must appoint at least seven members, and they must not already serve the district. There also must be a member representing each of the following categories: a businessperson from the community, a person active in a senior citizen organization, someone active in a bona fide taxpayer organization, a parent or guardian of a child in the district and a parent or guardian involved in a parent-teacher organization.
Ms. Mueller recommended the district open applications to the community and reach out to qualified candidates. It’s not required to open applications, but she advised against recruitment that is strictly nominations.
The committee can have more than seven members, and they serve two-year periods for up to three terms.
“The larger the committee gets, the more folks you have to have who are able to attend those meetings regularly or they’re not going to be able to get their business done,” she said.
Sometimes, committee members abandon the project for various reasons, so Ms. Mueller recommends an application process where applicants are kept on file for future openings.
Lauren Charneski summarized construction and advised the district to hire a team to coordinate the bond program.
“Bond programs, of course, have multiple projects. And with those multiple projects, you have additional burdens on budgeting, accounting, planning, coordination, and scheduling, not just for each individual project, but within the entire program just to keep all those plates spinning in the air for that five to seven year period,” she said.
She recommended hiring a project manager and other representatives instead of trying to handle the program with existing district staff.
“As smart and hardworking and intelligent and qualified as your staff are, they already have full-time jobs. And there’s just a lot of management that goes into a bond program,” she said.
She estimated a month to onboard program management and recommended waiting until the district hires its new superintendent.
Another delay is the approval process from the Division of the State Architect. All designs must go through the division before breaking ground. Ms. Charneski estimated a year or more for this phase.
The board favored starting small projects first so it can begin construction while waiting for lengthy approvals.
“We have a lot of smaller projects at every school site that we are hoping to do. So we’re not undertaking large, massive construction projects, which is a good thing,” Conrad Tedeschi, assistant superintendent and certified public accountant, said. “I think there’s a lot of things that we can do and a lot we won’t be able to do, but we’re looking forward to getting the program rolling with some of these projects.”
Groundbreaking won’t happen anytime soon.
“We’re just barely scratching the surface of what needs to be done, but it’s also very exciting because it’s going to happen,” he said.
To learn more about Measure M2020, visit goleta.k12.ca.us/measure-m/.