BOUSD Board met last Monday evening and once again I’m turning to a Brea resident with special insight into the district, Connie Lanzisera. Connie has monitored the BOUSD for many years, holding them accountable on a wide variety of issues… mostly linked to money. The Board attempted to very quietly hustle a bond issue onto November’s ballot and almost got away with it. Here’s the backstory from Connie.
I would like to thank the many Brea residents that attended the BOUSD Board meeting Monday night voicing their opinion on a possible $148 million dollar bond. Even though the outcome did not turn out as many had hoped, it was good to see the public become involved in the discussion.
For many hoping to at least delay the bond issue for a couple of years, the BOUSD Board’s decision to put it on the November 8th ballot appeared to have been decided before the meeting began.
Unfortunately, the School Board chose not to listen to Brea taxpayers who had legitimate complaints about, amongst many things, the lack of transparency thus far in this process.
Strong opposition voiced.
Every person opposing the bond measure told the board they would support a bond IF and only IF the District was truthful, transparent, and thorough in explaining how the $148 million dollars would be spent.
It seems both prudent and reasonable to ask for a detailed list of projects and costs the District wants to spend. However, the District has provided only a vague list in their attempt to define the scope of work to be performed.
They want the taxpayer to cough up $148 million dollars without any prior oversight from Brea residents… no questions asked.
BOUSD – History repeats itself.
This mimics the Board’s strategy in 1999 when they duped voters into approving a $27 million dollar bond for which there has never been an adequate independent audit. We are still paying for it even though the money was spent many years ago.
In 2012 the Board tried to slip another $54 million dollar bond initiative onto the ballot but voters were smarter and the measure failed… much to the embarrassment of both district staff and the Board who assumed the measure would easily pass.
This year, attempting to gather public input, phone surveys were conducted on a very limited basis. Less than 300 taxpayers were contacted at a cost of $127,340 (those phone calls cost $425 each).
The consultant confirmed they called from a list of voters who had voted in the last two presidential elections because they had a high probability of voting this November. They called the week after their huge sob story postcard landed in Brea mailboxes. This is playing a numbers game, nothing else.
How many surveyed were homeowners or renters like you and me who will eventually be stuck paying the bill? Hardly a projectable sample.
Marketing vs. Engagement.
The District, rather than legitimately seeking public support, is relying on buzzwords tested by the financial interests in the bond industry. Rather than conducting broadly announced public hearings where community opinions might become part of the public record, the matter slipped onto last week’s agenda like a thief in the night.
Had sharp eyes not spotted the attempt to sneak the resolution through, there would have been little or no opposition expressed. A handful of teachers and PTA parents would have congratulated the Board for their forward thinking.
BOUSD – A pattern of deception.
If the School District begins this process deceiving the community and trying to mask their intent, how can we expect them to be transparent and truthful when it comes to spending our money? Their flagrant disregard for truth is obvious.
The Board couldn’t (or wouldn’t) answer questions to how the $148 million dollars would be spent. Their answers, turning to those tested buzzwords, were generic phrases like fixing leaky roofs, upgrade wireless infrastructure, energy efficiencies and environmental upgrades and reinforce eroding hillsides.
This will raise the quality of education how?
Board member excuses ring hollow.
Board members spoke of their good stewardship and management of district assets, bragged about their success “saving” the district during tough financial times and took issue with comments from the audience to the contrary.
Bottom line, this is the Board that, in spite of millions of dollars in bond revenue and millions in profits from the sale of properties, has allowed our schools to deteriorate into a completely deplorable and unacceptable state of disrepair.
Our children and parents deserve better… so do those of us whose property taxes will take a big jump for another 30 years. The plan is not sufficiently clear or adequately detailed. The public has been disregarded.
The only reasonable choice is to vote no on the BOUSD school bond measure in November.