School Districts Allowing More Access to Construction Info, Tax Board Says

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More school districts around the region are allowing the public easier access to information about their construction bonds, according to a report released Thursday by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.

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The third annual School Bond Transparency Scorecard rates how well school districts and their independent citizen oversight committees provide information to the public.

“Taxpayers deserve to know how the dollars from voter-approved bond programs are being spent, and this report aims to hold districts and ICOCs accountable for providing that information,” said Theresa Andrews, executive director of public policy for the government-watchdog organization.

“Since we introduced the transparency standards two years ago, many districts have made the effort to increase the availability of information to the public,” she said.

According to the scorecard, the most transparent districts were the San Diego Community College District, Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, Sweetwater Union High School District and San Marcos Unified School District. They scored 24 out of 25 criteria on availability and easy accessibility of key information about their bond programs, according to the SDCTA.

The San Dieguito Union High School District scored 23 out of 25.

The organization said the least transparent were the Julian Union High School District, Lemon Grove School District, Lakeside Union School District and Dehesa School District, which scored two out of 25.

The districts were rated on the accessibility and timeliness of key reports and information on their bond programs, including lists of project descriptions, progress and itemized expenditures; ICOC member contact information and committee vacancies; posting of ICOC meeting agendas and minutes; bond fund annual reports and annual bond audits; and archives of all reports.

The SDCTA also found that districts and their ICOCs lack consistency with regard to annual reporting practices. Several districts allowed a long time to elapse between end of a fiscal year and the release of annual reports, with some reports being released almost two years later, the group said.

—City News Service

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