By Linda Sutter, Investigative Reporter – October 7, 2021
Recently, and within Social Media, we have been told that a survey is being conducted to see if we the people would support another school bond of 47 million dollars. I believe our children and their education is the most important aspect in their life to pursue their future dreams.
Currently, The Del Norte County Voters in 2008 voted for a $25 million dollar bond. The bonds are listed under the Proposition 39 School Bond laws. And DNUSD has bonds A-E. Along with the bonds came an oversight committee consisting of 7 members.
As an Citizens Oversight Committee (COC) for School Bonds there are 5 main things the oversight committee must assure.
- Did the District spend money on authorized purposes?
- Were expenditures made on projects specifically authorized by the voters?
- Were there annual Audits?
- Were there Annual Performance Audits?
- Annual Reports required and Regular Reports encouraged?
Beginning July 5, 2021 through August 5, 2021, a series of emails between Jeff Napier Assistant Superintendent and Steve Lyons Chair of the Oversight Committee Occurred. On July 5th, 2021 Oversight Chair Steve Lyons writes:
Page 2 Section “Measure A Bond Authorization”, 5th paragraph, 1st sentence–states, “According to the District the $24,985,655.70 issued to date will require property taxpayers to repay the sum of $44,330,696.48;
On July 9, 2021 Assistant Superintendent, Jeff Napier suggests the following; Auditors letter will need to somehow officially amend their report. Also the referenced amount indicated on page 2 has yet to be revised.
Steve Lyons responds; “I suggest we get rid of the $44 million number. While technically it is accurate, it is hard to understand as the figure includes the payment to refund the bonds as taxpayer debt.”
Jeff Napier responds, “I agree.”
Another conversation was brought up regarding the number of board members. According to School Bond Laws there must be 7 members serving on the oversight committee.
Education Code Section 15278(a) requires The Committee shall consist of at least seven (7) members (and may be larger) to serve for a term of two (2) years, without compensation, and for no more than two (2) consecutive terms. The Committee may not include any employer or official of the school district or any vendor, contractor, or consultant of the school district. The Committee must include all of the following:
(a) One member who is active in a business organization representing the business community located within the school district;
(b) One member active in a senior citizen’s organization;
(c) One member active in a bona fide taxpayer association;
(d) For a school district, one member shall be the parent or guardian of a child enrolled in the district.
(e) For a school district, one member shall be both a parent or guardian of a child enrolled in the district and active in a parent-teacher organization, such as the Parent Teacher Association or school site council.
In an email sent from Jeff Napier to Steve Lyons July 22, 2021
The school board retroactively appointed prior members to the COC for those members who had been attending and agreed to be reappointed. I will research which members were reappointed and which dates. If any of them had an appointment during that fiscal year, they would qualify as being a member counted. (Jeff)
You’re going to have to explain this a lot better to me. I am really confused with this explanation. (Steve)
Jeff Napier replied, “I sent you the board minutes. The past practice of the district was an initial appointment of the committee and then if they chose to serve another term, they were allowed. There was no formal reappointment. Upon legal advice, the school board retroactively appointed members who had been serving on the COC with their consent. All of the members consented for 16-19 and two of the members consented for 19-21. Board minutes delineate. Auditor making corrections.”
On July 27, 2021 Steve Lyons Chair of COC writes “Awaiting correction of the Auditor’s Report, and said sections of Page 2 and Page 4 of the Annual Report, i.e. there were only two COC ‘appointed’ members during FY 2019/2020, and COC was inactive.”
Jess Napier writes on July 29th, 2021, “Corrections made. Have draft audit I will send you. The auditor should be sending final with corrections ASAP.”
On July 27, 2021 Steve Lyons writes; “eff, based on the 12-12-2019 District Board Meeting Minutes that you supplied me, and what you have explained to me in the interim, there were only two members, Haley Allen and Sandy Moreno, who were officially reappointed to the Citizens Oversight Committee for the term of 7-1-2019 to 6-30-2021, and neither of these were officially “acting” during FY 2019/2020, as no COC meetings convened during said period; and, according to you, both of these resigned when the current 2020/2021 COC was formed. Therefore, to more accurately convey what actually transpired in FY 2019/2020, I suggest that this paragraph be revised as follows: “During the time covered by this Report, the Citizens Oversight Committee was comprised only two members, and no active oversight occurred. These both resigned when the 2020-21 COC was appointed by the DNCUSD Board of Education on ______, 2020.”
There will be more emails to follow in the days ahead. California Public Request for information have been sent. In the meantime go to DNUSD.Org. scroll down the page until you find the oversight committee. Some of the oversight committee folks have had training most have not, The newer members were talked into stating they had been on the board with a date “retroactively” when no board existed.
In the meantime, this School District and Board members have hired a consultant to conduct a survey to see if we, the people, will vote for another school Bond to the tune of $47 million. Keep in mind we still owe $44 million from a $25 million dollar bond, and we have been paying on this bond for 13 years.