Liz Swain 4:24 p.m., May 24
Use Of Mello Roos by Sweetwater UHSD
The Sweetwater Union High School District has spent over $60 million from the districts Mello Roos fund in the last 3 years a review of their 2012-2013 budget found. Of this amount, $1.7 million has been spent on site facility expenses, $900,000 on service/administrative expenses, $390,000 on salaries and expenses, $5.5 million on capital outlay, and $48.6 million on other outgoing/ debt service expenses. Many questions persist as to why 80% of the money spent in the last 3 years is under the outgoing/debt service expenses. Many are questioning what this fund is, and what this money is really being spent on. Parents in the Mello Roos areas say they have not seen any improvements made to their neighborhood schools, and actually are concerned with quick deterioration of those schools.
There are 17 Community Facilities (Mello Roos ) Districts within the Sweetwater Union High School District, encompassing 26% of the students in the district. Most are in Eastern Chula Vista. These funds are supposed to be used for capital improvements, technology and infrastructure for schools within the Mello Roos areas.
Many parents in Eastern Chula Vista have been demanding a community forum with Superintendent Ed Brand so he can explain the districts use of these funds. The district recently used over $4 million dollars from this fund for the purchase of I Pads for 7th graders in the entire district. Earlier this year, Ex Chief Financial Officer Diane Russo reported that the district had borrowed over $60 million from this fund for district operating expenses.
Last year the district was caught borrowing from the Proposition O Bond Fund and they forgot to pay that money back. Many in the community feel the district is continuing this borrowing, but now it is being done from the Mello Roos fund. Parents have been requesting to meet with Ed Brand since July 2012, but Brand and the district have cancelled agreed to meetings with the community 3 times. This has further led to the belief that Brand and the district are using these funds inappropriately, and that Brand does not want to meet with the community because the districts questionable practices with this fund will be exposed.
Until Ed Brand opens the districts books, holds the agreed to community forum, and provides the transparency the parents demand, it appears Mr. Brand will have a rough 2 years ahead of him.
If you are a parent or community member in the district, and this or any other district issues interest or concern you, you are encouraged to attend the next regularly board meeting on Monday Oct 15th at 1130 5th Ave, Chula Vista Ca 91911.