San Diego Taxpayers Educational Foundation
707 Broadway, Suite 905 | San Diego, CA 92101 | T: 619-234-6423 | F: 619-234-7403
April 12, 2011
CONTACT: Lani Lutar
619-234-6423 or email@example.com
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR
619-997-2495 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Voter Approved School Bond Programs Show Varied Performance
Report reveals wide range of cost savings, state dependence, and public transparency
(San Diego) – Transparency of information, cost savings from construction methods, and the State of California’s budget woes are the top performance measures driving the success or failures of school district bond programs within San Diego County.
According to a new study released today by the San Diego Taxpayers Educational Foundation (SDTEF), active school bond programs in San Diego County are on track to complete 93.4% of projects originally promised to voters. Half of the programs are expected to deliver 100% of the projects originally promised to voters. The Study, “School Facilities Bond Programs in San Diego County,” uses evidence and information that were made readily available by school districts, either through the district's website or a Public Records Act request.
A review of projects using various types of project delivery methods finds that “lease-leaseback” (LLB) projects, in which a project manager is hired to provide oversight, had the highest average savings and lowest change order rates. On the other hand, traditional design-bid-build (DBB) type projects, where the school awards contracts for architecture and construction yet retains responsibility of managing and overseeing construction, resulted in the highest change order rates and the most reports of project delays.
Several school bond programs, including Carlsbad Unified School District, Grossmont Union
High School District and Santee School District are currently affected by a reliance on state-matching funds. Payments have been delayed due to the State's current fiscal crisis.
Six districts hire outside firms to conduct annual bond program performance reviews. Lani Lutar, Director of the San Diego Taxpayers Educational Foundation, said in several instances performance reviews have resulted in findings and related recommendations which dramatically improved bond program implementation going forward.
The study outlines additional key findings, such as:
- Although some districts have recently come under increased media scrutiny for potential conflict of interest issues, no districts publish information about donations directly to the district, elected officials, or bond campaigns.
- Five school districts received perfect scores for their websites (Carlsbad Unified School District, Grossmont Union High School District, Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, San Diego Community College District, San Diego Unified School District).
- Three districts (Escondido Union High School District, South Bay Union School District, and Southwestern Community College District) did not have annual reports or performance audits available on their website, nor were they made available upon a Public Records Act request.
- Publicly-available information provided by six districts (the three noted above plus Cajon Valley Union School District, Palomar Community College District, and Sweetwater Union High School District) was found to be inadequate to provide a sufficient overview of bond program performance to date.
“These types of studies may seem wonky, but voters and taxpayers are counting on those who oversee these programs to use our money wisely,” said Lutar. “Conducting studies of this type to compare best practices is necessary to hold our representatives accountable,” added Lutar.
A full copy of this study can be accessed by contacting Lani Lutar or Chris Cate at 619-234-6423 or visiting www.sdcta.org. The Executive Summary is available by clicking here.
The mission of the San Diego Taxpayers Education Foundation is to provide objective, in-depth, non-partisan research and analysis of public policy and public works projects in order to increase accountability and efficiency in government.