Strong Schools Bond was passed under the rules of Proposition 39, which directs that the Board of Education appoint a Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee to monitor bond expenditures.
This Committee is responsible for reviewing expenditures related to the District's $378,000,000 general obligation bond, Strong Schools Bond, approved by the voters on June 3, 2008.
The Board has appointed the following seven individuals to the Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee.
- Mr. James Cowie
- Mr. Kim Gupta
- Ms. Dana Kismetova
- Mr. Sukhi Nagesh
- Mr. Daniel Sin-Yew Teo
- Ms. Prerana Vaidya
- Mr. Bruce Whitson
The first meeting will be held Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at 5PM. The meeting minutes will be posted when available.
On August 26, 2008, the Board of Education appointed the seven members of the initial Citizens' Oversight Committee. This committee has met quarterly for the last two years, reviewing the progress of the program, reviewing the results of performance and financial audits, and has issued the first annual report.
Members of the Palo Alto Unified School District Citizens' Oversight Committee
Mr. James Cowie is Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Cadence Design Systems. His experience includes 19 years as transactional attorney, including real estate development and construction. He is a past Treasurer of the El Carmelo PTA and coaches National Junior Basketball. He has three children who attend PAUSD schools, one at El Carmelo Elementary School, one at JLS Middle School , and one at Palo Alto High School.
Mr. Kim Gupta is the Managing Director Strategic Components at Bloom Energy, a Fuel Cell start-up in Silicon Valley. He is responsible for procurement for all key commodities for the fuel cell as well as leading construction procurement for the company. His experience includes 21 years at Intel Corp where he was responsible for procurement of various commodities and capital equipment for all Intel factories globally. He has a PhD from Stanford University and a MBA from Santa Clara University. He has two children in PAUSD.
Ms. Dana Kismetova is a First Vice President at Morgan Stanley based in downtown Palo Alto. She is active in the start-up community and works with MIT Enterprise Forum in the Bay Area to organize educational events that focus on new disruptive technologies. She has more than a decade of experience working in International private equity. She has her Masters in Business Administration from Instituto de Empresa in Madrid, Spain. She is fluent in Russian, English, Kazakh and Spanish. She has one child in PAUSD.
Mr. Sukhi Nagesh is the CFO and VP of Finance at Palo Alto based non-profit technology firm Benetech. He is responsible for all financial activity at the Company including audits, budgeting and compliance. Previously, he held multiple leadership positions in finance, marketing and engineering over the last twenty years at companies such as Deutsche Bank, SG Cowen, Applied Materials, Marvell and Asyst Technologies. Sukhi and his wife live in Palo Alto and have three children in PAUSD.
Mr. Daniel Sin-Yew Teo is a graduate of Cambridge University and also holds a Master's degree from Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has been a CFO of both private and publicly listed companies. He has worked for companies with experience in building water treatment plants and also with building renewable energy projects and is very familiar with construction.
Ms. Prerana Vaidya founded a non-profit and a for-profit organization Kidizens, a LEGO-based civic and economic enrichment program for bay area elementary and young middle-schoolers. She is a business professional with over 20 years of strategic advisory, corporate finance, business development and sales/marketing experience. Prerana spent seven years in technology Investment Banking at UBS and four years in the Business Development Group at Philips Electronics. She has an MBA from NYU and an MS from Iowa State University. She has twins in PAUSD.
Mr. Bruce Whitson is a Palo Alto realtor and owner of Whitson Properties. Bruce has two daughters. Allison is a Paly graduate and attends UC Davis. Kimberly is a senior at Paly and was a member of last year’s state volleyball championship team. He is a founding member of the Palo Alto Elite Volleyball Club and a member of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors. He has been treasurer for three different PTAs over the years.
CITIZENS' OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
Proposition 39 provides that the governing board of a school district may pursue the authorization and issuance of general obligation bonds by 55 percent vote of the electorate. As a result of the passage of Proposition 39, language was added to the Education Code requiring school districts passing a bond designated as a Proposition 39 bond to establish a Citizens' Oversight Committee (Committee) to actively review and report on uses of bond proceeds to ensure that they are spent only on school facilities improvements allowed under each bond measure and not for any other purpose. The Committee shall be established within sixty (60) days of the date that the Board enters the election results in its minutes.
A. Committee's Purpose
The purpose of the Committee is to inform the public concerning the expenditure and uses of bond revenues. The Committee's legal charge is to actively review and report on the expenditure of taxpayer's money for school construction. The Committee shall convene to provide oversight of the following:
- That revenues from bonds are expended only for the purpose described in Article 13A, section 1, subdivision (b)(3) of the California Constitution including the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation or replacement of school facilities, including for a Proposition 39 bond measure the furnishing and equipping of school facilities, or the acquisition or lease of real property for school facilities.
- That, as prohibited by Article 13A, section 1, subdivisions (b)(3)(A) of the California Constitution, no funds are used for any teacher and administrative salaries or other school operating expenses normally paid from the general fund; although salaries for the time personnel are assigned to and working on the bond program are allowable.
B. Committee's Duties
The Committee may engage in the following activities in furtherance of its purpose:
- Receiving and reviewing copies of the annual performance audits required by Article 13A, section 1, subdivisions (b)(3)(C) of the California Constitution.
- Receiving and reviewing the annual financial audits required by Article 13A, section 1, subdivisions (b)(3)(D) of the California Constitution.
- Inspecting school facilities and grounds to ensure that Bond revenues are expended in compliance with the requirements of Article 13A, section 1, subdivision (b)(3) of the California Constitution.
- Receiving and reviewing copies of any deferred maintenance proposals or plans developed by the District, including any reports required by Education Code section 17584.1.
- Reviewing efforts by the District to maximize Bond revenues by implementing costsaving measures including, but not limited, to the following:
- Mechanisms designed to reduce the costs of professional fees;
- Mechanisms designed to reduce the cost of site preparation;
- Recommendations regarding the joint use of core facilities;
- Mechanisms designed to reduce costs by incorporating efficiencies in school site design;
- Recommendations regarding the use of cost-effective and efficient reusable facility plans.
C. Committee Operations
The Committee's legal charge is to review bond expenditures and to inform the public about the uses of Bond proceeds. The Committee does not have the authority to:
- Participate in the bond sale and issuance process or make decisions concerning the timing, terms or structure of a bond issuance, except that the Committee may review the District's plans for any bond sale and may review bond issuance documents upon the conclusion of a bond sale if desired;
- Determine how bond funds shall be spent;
- Select contractors or consultants for bond projects or participate in the negotiation or bid process for such contractors and consultants;
- Enter or inspect a job site or construction project without prior permission of the District Superintendent or designee. Frequency and timing of all such visits are within the sole discretion of the Superintendent or designee. Visits to job sites require that the Committee member(s) be accompanied by a representative of the District and require that all safety measures in effect at the job site be followed;
- Contact District contractors or consultants, including without limitation, accountants, auditors, architects, financial advisors and legal counsel, without the prior written permission of the District Superintendent or designee.
- Require the District to prepare reports or conduct audits more frequently than those required by law.
The Committee shall not be entitled to legal representation by District legal counsel or at District expense, unless permitted by the Board.
The Committee shall meet at least quarterly, and Committee members shall be available to attend Board meetings when performance and financial audits are presented. The Superintendent or his/her designee shall attend Committee meetings. The chairperson shall call the roll of the Committee members at the beginning of each meeting. Each Committee member shall sign an attendance sheet that shall be maintained by the person designated by the chairperson. If the Committee member is not present for roll call and/or does not sign the attendance sheet, the Committee member shall be considered absent from the Committee meeting.
With the approval of the Committee chairperson, District staff shall prepare agendas and send copies to all Committee members at least three (3) days prior to each meeting. The Committee's meetings are subject to the Ralph M. Brown Act, Government Code, section 54950 et seq. Meetings shall be open to the public and noticed in the same manner as proceedings of the Board. Committee decisions and recommendations shall be made by a "50% plus one" vote of the members in attendance at a meeting based on a "50% plus one" quorum of members present at a meeting. The Committee shall annually select a chairperson for a one-year term that may be renewed as determined by the Committee. Minutes will be kept for each Committee meeting. The minutes shall be distributed to each Committee member, and the Board, if requested, at the earliest reasonable date prior to the next subsequent meeting. Minutes of Committee proceedings and all documents received and reports issued shall be a matter of public record. The Committee shall submit all documents and minutes to the District's webmaster for publication on the District's Internet website for public and community information services.
The Committee shall prepare regular reports on Committee activities. A report shall be issued at least once each year. Upon completion of all bond projects, the Committee shall prepare a final written report summarizing its activities and conclusions.
The Board of Education will, without expending Bond funds:
- Provide the Committee with any necessary technical assistance;
- Provide administrative assistance in furtherance of the Committee's purpose; and
- Provide the Committee with sufficient resources to publicize the Committee's conclusions.
The CBO will serve as a resource to the Committee. He/she shall assign such other District staff as are needed to assist the Committee in carrying out its duties.
D. Committee Selection and Composition
The Committee shall be comprised of individuals who live within the boundaries of the District. The Superintendent or designee shall solicit applications for membership on the Committee and make recommendations to the Board for appointments. The Board shall have the authority at its sole discretion to select and appoint the Committee. By law, the Committee will consist of seven members.
As required by law, Committee membership shall include the following categories:
- One member shall, at the time of appointment, be active in a business organization representing the business community of the District;
- One member shall, at the time of appointment, be active in a senior citizens' organization, which may be a local, regional, statewide or national organization;
- One member shall, at the time of appointment, be active in a bona fide taxpayers' organization, which may be a local, regional, statewide or national organization;
- One member shall, at the time of appointment, be the parent or guardian of at least one child currently enrolled in a school of the District;
- One member shall, at the time of appointment, be either a parent or guardian of at least one child currently enrolled in a school of the District and be an active member in a District parent-teacher organization, such as the PTA or school site council.
A single individual may be appointed as a representative of more than one of the above categories.
No employee or official of the District shall be appointed to the Committee. Additionally, no vendor, contractor, or consultant of the District shall be appointed to the Committee.
After appointment to a two-year term, Committee members who wish to be appointed for a second two-year term shall reapply to the Board for consideration. Committee members shall receive no remuneration for their participation on the Committee.
E. Replacing a Committee Member
Members should attend regularly scheduled meetings. Members are expected to share responsibilities for carrying out the work of the Committee and abide by Board policies and administrative regulations. The Committee will advise a Committee member in writing that he/she is in violation of Committee participation requirements if the Committee member fails to attend two (2) consecutive regularly scheduled meetings. A new Committee member will be named by the Board if one or more of the following events occur:
- The Committee member submits a written resignation;
- The Committee member misses three (3) consecutive Committee meetings; or
- The Committee member attends less than 50% of the Committee meetings in a twelve month period.
An individual who replaces a member shall serve for the balance of the original member's term. A Committee member who no longer serves as a representative of the designated group she/he was appointed to represent (e.g., ceases to be active within a taxpayers' organization, or ceases to have a child enrolled in the District) shall be allowed to complete his/her term. However, that Committee member shall not be entitled to serve a subsequent term as a representative of the designated group.
Within sixty (60) days of being notified of a Committee vacancy, the Board will appoint a new member to complete the term of the vacancy following the process used to select the original Committee members.
Committee members shall be subject to prohibitions regarding incompatibility of office pursuant to Government Code sections 1125-1129 and financial interest in contracts pursuant to Government Code sections 1090-1098.
§ 54950 et seq.
Art. XIIIA, section 1(b)
Art. XVI, section 18(b)