Douglas County School Board approves oversight committee

Members will oversee use of bond, MLO funds


Douglas County School District's newest committee is a melting pot of backgrounds. One person comes from local government, another from the business community. Some are teachers. Others are parents. There are skeptics and there are supporters.

At a March 5 meeting, the board of education unanimously approved 20 people who will serve on the district's Mill Bond Oversight Ad-Hoc Committee. Members will oversee the district's use of tax measure funds.

“This truly is an oversight group,” said school board President David Ray. “It's really to ensure that what we said we would do, we are doing.”

Following years of budget cuts and what some community members describe as distrust in the school district, voters approved two tax measures last November. Ballot Issue 5A, a $40 mill levy override, is for teacher pay and programming. Ballot Issue 5B, a $250 million bond, is going toward capital needs and new construction.

School board members and citizens of Douglas County deemed the ad-hoc committee necessary to provide transparency and assure taxpayers that the additional funds will be spent as intended.

In December, the district published an application for the oversight committee, to which 158 people responded by the Jan. 11 deadline.

Meanwhile, an interview committee comprising members of existing committees, staff and teachers was formed. The 10 members, who will serve on the MBOC, reviewed all applications and picked 29 applicants to interview in person. From there, they recommended 10 additional people to the board of education.

“We have a very diverse group from across the county,” Rich Cosgrove, DCSD's chief operations officer and a member of the oversight committee, said. “(They are) very qualified, very committed.”

Committee members will meet four times a year, or once per quarter, to review the use of funds, according to the approved resolution.

They will have direct interaction with Cosgrove and the district's chief financial officer, Scott Smith, who are responsible for coordinating the expenditures, Ray said in an email.

The committee will also study the district's master capital plan, visit schools that undergo construction and provide regular updates to the district's communications department to be shared with the community. Ray emphasized that the group will not make any formal recommendations to the board.

"This committee will not make recommendations to the board because the voters have already approved how these funds are to be spent," Ray said. "Therefore, this committee is working on behalf of the voters, not the board, to ensure that these funds are expended as planned and approved."

The next step for the oversight committee is to select the date, time and location of its first meeting. The committee will be active for three years, during which the district expects to spend 85 percent of the bond funds.


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