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Advisory board to monitor Measure C spending

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District officials and Measure C committee members face a tight timeline to form a Measure C Oversight Committee, an advisory body that will help guide the district in implementing the $35 million bond issue.

An oversight subcommittee has been meeting to discuss tasks and responsibilities and to lay out the groundwork for the citizen oversight committees for both Truckee and Lakeside. The oversight committees will work to ensure the Measure C and Measure R funds are used effectively and efficiently and for the purpose intended by the voters. The subcommittee is still in the planning phase.

“We have some constraints facing us, mainly time constraints,” said John Britto, Director of Facilities for the district.

“We believe that if we don’t get our plans in in the next 18 months, the Measure A funds may be used up by the other districts,” said TTUSD Superintendent Pat Gemma. “The oversight committee is the gateway to get all this started.”

Architects, subcommittee members, school board members and district administrators have been present at the planning meetings.

The $35 million Measure C Bond issue, which was passed by Truckee voters on March 2, will be used to target overcrowding in Truckee schools. The bond will enable the district to build a new middle school for 1,000 students, convert the Sierra Mountain Middle into a new elementary school and expand the core facilities at Truckee Elementary and Tahoe-Truckee High School.

The funds generated from the bond will also bring more technology into all Truckee schools and upgrade maintenance, plumbing, heating, electrical and security systems.

Measure R is a similar bond issue, which passed at the lake and will fund $25 million in modernization and infrastructure improvements for Lakeside schools.

With the passage of Measure C, the district is entitled to funds from Measure A, a state-wide bond that will provide $6.2 billion for schools. The district hopes to get $10 million from Measure A funds, but must meet the timeline in order to receive the funds.

“The key for us is our projects have to be designed for the Department of State Architects. That’s the tough part. The DSA is a small office that reviews all of the plans in the state. The plans have to have DSA approval for approval of state funds,” said Britto.

A tentative goal discussed by the Oversight Subcommittee is for the oversight committees to be in place and beginning work by May 1, 1999, according to TTUSD officials.

One important item discussed at the subcommittee meeting on March 26, was that the Measure C Oversight Committee should have the same structure, make-up and responsibilities as the Measure R Oversight Committee, according to Marlys Zusy, a spokesperson for the Measure C Citizens’ Committee and the Oversight Subcommittee.

“It is important that everybody knows up front what the responsibilities of the committees will be,” said Zusy. “Both sides (Truckee and Lakeside) will have a public meeting in the next three weeks to show what (the oversight committees) are about and to see who is interested in serving.”

“We are a single district. The rules should be set up the same for both committees. We don’t want concerns down the road that decisions are being made on side of the district one way and another way on the other side,” said Britto.

The citizen’s oversight committee will be an advisory committee, and the ultimate responsibility and authority for bond expenditures and projects will be with the school district, said Zusy and Britto.

“It was represented on the ballot that there would be certain things done with the bond money,” said Zusy. The citizen’s oversight committee will be in place to make sure the district follows through with this plan, she said.

According to school officials, the subcommittee helped to begin to define the function of the oversight committee at the first meeting. The committee will be responsible for providing information to the school board and the community at large about the expenditure of Measure C funds. The committee will also be expected to take a leadership role to determine appropriate funds for each project designated under the bond measure.

While the school board will retain the responsibility for all decisions relative to the expenditure of the bonds, the oversight committee will have significant influence on the decisions of the board, school officials said.

Another issue the subcommittee is trying to outline is how the oversight committee will be related to the various Education Specification Committees that will be formed as each modernization project comes up.

Zusy said that someone from each Education Specification Committee will also be on an overview committee to be able to inform the overview committee of project plans.

“I see the overview committee as a hub, and the hub keeps everything together,” said Zusy.

The subcommittee still plans to talk about what the process will be to determine membership.

Zusy said she hopes to see a cross-section of the community represented on the Measure C Oversight Committee.

“I’d love to see a lot of people at our public meeting. If we have a lot of people, there has to be some sort of selection process,” she said. Zusy said she would also like for those who are skeptical of the bond to come to the meeting and consider joining the committee.

Some ideas discussed at last week’s subcommittee meeting for selection included an application type of process with residents submitting letters to the district.

The oversight committee members will have to commit to a five-year project; five years is how long the district has to spend the bond money, said Zusy.

Zusy said the subcommittee should have a more definitive idea of the function of the oversight committees after their second meeting, which was held Wednesday evening.

Public meetings on the oversight committees for both Measure C and Measure R will take place in mid to late April. The dates and specifics for the meetings will be announced in next week’s paper.


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