To assure voters that the $705M 2018 bond program would be well managed, Jeffco wrote into the ballot language that the program would be subject to an “annual independent audit”. The implication being that the program would be scrutinized on a yearly basis by a firm without financial ties to the District. Yet, two and a half years into what is now an $832M program only a very basic financial audit has been conducted, by the same firm that has deep and long standing ties to the District.
The ballot language implied that voters would get more than that. Now, with multiple questionable practices and current cost estimates $110M over what were presented to voters, Jeffco’s staff, Board and CAAC have all balked at providing the transparency and accountability that we all thought we would get when we entrusted Jeffco with our money. It is just incomprehensible to me that there is so much resistance to providing the transparency that was promised. It seems that if there was nothing to hide a Performance Audit would give the program a clean bill of health and end, once and for all, all questions. By continuing to refuse to conduct a Performance Audit it only perpetuates the assumption that there really is something to hide. That is not a good look!
In addition, the highly touted Citizens’ Capital Asset Advisory Committee is not doing its job either. CAAC meeting notes reveal that only until recently they have remained silent and allowed the program to go tens of millions of dollars over budget without asking any questions whatsoever. They have provided poor oversight of our money.
After initially observing a high usage rate of program contingency funds and subsequently numerous other instances of extremely questionable observations regarding the transparency, management and fiscal practices of the program I sent an email
to members of the CAAC on November 24, 2020 highlighting 10 very specific instances which raised questions with the management and transparency of the program and urging them to call for a Performance Audit conducted by a truly independent firm. Tim Reed replied on December 10, 2020 and I sent a rebuttal to Tim’s response to members of the CAAC on January 4, 2021.
On each of my letters I clearly include an offer to discuss my concerns and my telephone number. The fact that no one has taken me up on my offer speaks loudly in and of itself.
Finally, on January 4, 2021 I sent a copy of my original letter to the CAAC, Tim Reed’s response and my rebuttal to the Board of Education
The Board of Ed Secretary’s reply was far from confidence building:
Dear Mr. Greenawalt,
Members of the Board of Education received your January 4, 2021 email correspondence regarding our Capital Improvement Program. Thank you for bringing your concerns forward. You are correct that the Board of Education will be receiving feedback from the Capital Asset Advisory Committee and your concerns are noted.
Secretary, Jeffco Public Schools
with no further communication from the Board.
Over a series of posts I will outline some of the issues I have seen with regard to the transparency and fiscal management of the 5B bond program and take a look at some of the unbelievable and incredulous responses Tim Reed provided in a weak attempt to address my concerns. Here are some of the topics that I will cover:
- Over budget ($57M as of November 2020)
- Projected $32M Contingency Shortfall
- Deceptively adding $31M to Flipbook costs
- Failure to Share Bond Premium with Charter Schools
- Out of Scope Projects
- Deceptively Hiding the True Cost of Alameda HS Cost Overruns
- Recent Large Underspend on FF&E Projects
- Unexplained Recent Increase to Capital Transfer Revenue
- Questionable Use of $50M in Bond Premium Contingency
- Failure of CAAC Members to Maintain Independence
- Failure of Jeffco to Provide $23M in Capital Transfer as Promised to Taxpayers
Jeffco needs to put these concerns and questions to rest.
Jeffco needs to conduct the independent Performance Audit that voters thought they were going to get.