Where Is The Oversight?

Despite the vigorous debate by the BOC, school board member Tamar Galatzan, in sentiments echoed by her colleague, Monica Garcia, said debate at the school board level was not necessary.”

- LA School Report

Bond funds are not picked from the free money tree. Every year the taxpayers of the district open their mail to see the various line items needed to pay off these bonds (plus interest) added to their property tax bills. Money received from investors today will become the responsibility of taxpayers who are yet to be born. They are owed the assurance that these funds were properly spent.

As the entity responsible for giving final approval for spending these funds within the district, the school board’s oversight should include vigorous debate about need before voting. Unfortunately, they have decided instead to allocate a portion of these funds on a per-pupil basis and distribute them within their individual fiefdoms. Through agreement, they have decided to automatically approve what each board member requests for their district. Since 2010, the board has approved $15,517,000 of these “priority funds,” of which just over $4,000,000 has been spent in district three. This means that Tamar Galatzan has approved without any questions over $11,000,000 in spending.

The one entity within the district that seems to be doing its job is the Bond Oversight Committee (BOC). According to one committee member they “are very much opposed to anything that divides the money up by seven.” Instead they prefer to divide “the money up by need.” This has led to disagreements with Ms. Galatzan. “Tamar is the one who gets the most upset about [priority funds].  She doesn’t have an understanding of when it’s a board member priority, that’s not the end of the discussion.”

For those who have followed the district’s iPad scandal, Ms. Galatzan’s conflict with the BOC is not surprising. Earlier this year she voted three times to block Stuart Magruder’s reappointment to the committee because of his vocal opposition to using bond funds to pay for consumer items that will be sitting in the dump long before they are paid off by the taxpayers. The stakeholders of the district would be much better served if she spent less time attacking the BOC and more time providing her own oversight of the way the taxpayer’s money is spent.