There should be more people raising concerns about this sort of bond expenditure, though other school districts in the state have gotten away with doing the same thing. It's completely justifiable to use bond money to upgrade schools for wi-fi capacity, which is where $500 million of the money would go. But there should be serious doubts in the public's mind about using bonds to purchase computing devices that last a few years. Voters agreed to tax themselves on the understanding that the billions of dollars were to be used to build and repair schools, or make other capital expenditures that would last for at least a couple of decades, which is how long it takes to pay off the bonds.
Of course, as we all know now, the
And the iPad purchase has been slowed, with a smaller buy-in at the start and a more purposeful build-up. That might involve a mix of devices instead of the original approach of an iPad for every student and teacher. High school students did not find the tablets as useful as laptops, for example.
These were the kinds of questions that Stuart Magruder, an architect on the Bond Oversight Committee, was raising when too many others were just going along. The board should have been glad to have a member of the committee doing exactly what the panel is supposed to do: carefully vet the use of bond money to ensure that it is properly and prudently spent.
Instead, the board refused a second term for Magruder, the first time it has refused to confirm a candidate from one of the outside groups that have been designated to nominate an oversight member. Magruder was the choice of the American Institute of Architects. In fact, it's not entirely certain that the board was within its rights on the vote; some experts argue that the district signed a legally binding agreement to ratify these outside nominees. The district's legal people say no.
But even if it wasn’t a legal mistake, it was a tactical one. Tamar Galatzan, who initiated the move to reject Magruder, has been the iPad program’s most enthusiastic supporter and has never asked the important questions about this planned expenditure of more than $1 billion. She and other board members should be glad that