Steve Petzold | Rebuttal to Superintendent

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

I take great pleasure responding to the recent allegation made by Colleen Hawkins that I made misleading comments regarding the management of Saugus Union School District Measure EE bonds.

In 2014 the SUSD placed Measure EE on the ballot. Measure EE was a Proposition 39 bond that required a supermajority vote of 55% to pass.

Proposition 39 (2000) was placed on the ballot to evade the Proposition 13 requirement for a two-thirds supermajority for bond passage.

To qualify for the lower supermajority vote , a school district agrees to a number of restrictions. The district must produce a list of projects to be funded , provide annual performance and financial audits and agree not to pay administrator and teacher salaries from the proceeds. In addition, the California code requires that an independent citizens bond oversight committee be established to report to the public that expenditures are made in compliance with Article 13A of the state Constitution.

From the time this item went to the voters, the SUSD attempted to mislead the voters. The ballot text misstated the words in the California Constitution, Article 13A. Proposition 39 clearly states that proceeds of the bond be restricted to the purposes specified in the Constitution and not for any other purpose “including teacher and administrator salaries and other school operating expenses.”

The ballot text for Measure E added words to the text of the Constitution misleading the voters. It twists the words to read to “not for any other purpose including teacher and administrator salaries and any other school non-construction operating expenses.”

A subtle difference, but one that Saugus has used to justify paying administrators hundreds of thousands of dollars since passage.

The independent citizens bond oversight committee has refused to report these improper expenditures to the public over the years. That is the fact.

In addition, the SUSD has expended money at Bouquet Canyon School. There are NO projects on the list put to the voters for this location. In fact, when Measure EE passed, Bouquet Canyon was closed and targeted for sale. Where are the auditors and CBOC to report this fact? The district continues to mislead the public by saying science labs were constructed. In fact, the Division of the State Architects counseled the district not to refer to science labs because the term was misleading. We voted for science labs and they built flex labs. 

It is the district that misled the voters and the feckless Citizens Bond Oversight Committee refuses to meet its oversight obligations.

In July the district trustees decided not to put a new bond on the ballot even though the $148 million in Measure EE funds are nearly depleted. 

There will be fewer capital projects in the pipeline over the next few years. Let us hope the Saugus Union School District will follow the Constitution when they place another measure on the ballot.

Steve Petzold

Santa Clarita 

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