Bond committee focuses on transparency

The seven members of the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee — which will monitor how a $270 million bond is spent for local school facilities upgrades — said this week that they will focus on creating a transparent and efficient process.

“In tough economic times, when you are realizing such a large amount of money, there is not much room for error,” said David Gevorkyan, who at 28 years old is the youngest of the group. “There is not much room for compromise because even 1% of that money can make a difference of $2.7 million.”

The committee was assembled last month following a vetting process that attracted more than 50 applicants, Glendale Unified officials said. State law requires that the group reflect a cross section of the community, including a representative of an active business organization, a senior citizen’s group and a bona fide taxpayers association.

In addition to Gevorkyan, the committee members are: Armik Avedisian, Robbyn Battles, Rebecca Delfino, Mia Lee, Stephen Pierce and John Sadd.

The committee will gather next month for its first formal meeting, which is open to the public. Members are responsible for reviewing expenditures, inspecting facilities and communicating with the public. They will not appropriate dollars, approve construction contracts or set construction schedules — those powers are reserved for the superintendent and school board.

The district is also in the process of assembling a Superintendent’s Facilities Oversight Committee, which will serve an advisory role for construction projects.

The $270 million comes from Measure S, a school bond passed by voters on April 5. It follows on the heels of Measure K, the $186-million bond passed in 1997 that paid for major projects, including the refurbishment of Clark Magnet High School and Cerritos and Edison elementary schools. The cost of the bond to property owners is about $46 per $100,000 of assessed value through 2050, according to the school district.

Sadd, an accountant who also served on the oversight committee for Measure K, described the 1997 bond as a success, but added that plenty of work remains. Among his priorities will be to ensure that the money is spent in a manner that helps prepare Glendale students for a 21st century workplace, he said.

“I would like to look at the technology that is available and look at the technology these students will be able to translate to jobs someday, and look at how we can best get that technology into the schools,” Sadd said.

Gevorkyan, a consultant for the city of Pasadena and a member of Clark Magnet High School’s first graduating class, said that the committee will serve to bridge community members and decision makers.

“It is very important that the bond oversight committee stays on top of the schedule for how the money is going to be spent…so the kids can benefit from the money,” Gevorkyan said.

Pierce, a former member the Crescenta Valley Town Council and the lead organizer of the Montrose Christmas Parade, said he would like to see special attention paid to South Glendale schools that are badly in need of upgrading.

“I would encourage people in the community to contact us and to let us know what their concerns are, and also to contact the board,” Pierce said. “This is their money.”

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