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Opinion

Making a commitment to transparency

Burbank Unified officials may be able to wipe the nervous beads of sweat off their foreheads after an outside firm determined that the district didn’t misspend any of the $274 million it received through bond proceeds and state and city sources during the past 15 years, but the workout’s not over yet.

With the school district exploring another possible bond in 2013, it still has a ways to go in convincing taxpayers that it’s capable of accurately and transparently handling another windfall. A good way to start would be by breaking down how that more than quarter-billion-dollar chunk of money has improved the district and the city.

Much of a school district — classrooms, computer labs, locker rooms and multi-purpose buildings — is never seen by the people who fund it, which is why before voters will take another multi-million-dollar bond seriously, they’re going to need to see a better pitch than a thick audit report.

Making available the database created by the accounting firm — which breaks the funding down to a project-by-project basis over the years — would be a good start.

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District officials also should craft a comprehensive and transparent oversight structure for future spending, one that heavily involves the public and makes information readily available online. Something similar to what the Obama administration did to track stimulus funding would be most effective.

Asking voters to continue to shell out in an effort to keep Burbank Unified in the top rung of school districts isn’t unreasonable — asking them to do it without a commitment to transparency and full accounting is.


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