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School board as watchdog for taxpayers

Community engagement in setting the budget priorities of our public institutions is essential. The Lake Oswego Neighborhood Action Coalition (LONAC) recently developed recommendations that will strengthen the integrity of the city’s budget process. I want our school district to adopt similar measures, such as data accuracy, document clarity, sound projections and quarterly citizen reviews of its budget and projects. Delaney

Our school board must monitor the district administration’s good faith compliance in the budget process. This is especially true in connection with capital projects. As a former government attorney for procurement, I know that three phases where our school board should be exercising more oversight are (1) cost estimates, (2) bid solicitation, and (3) quality of workmanship. Lax controls during these phases waste taxpayer money and detract from our educational program.

During his four years on the school board, John Wendland has approved spending for many capital projects that should have received closer school board scrutiny, including:

  • Lake Grove swim park wading pool estimate of $200,000 while other similar projects cost $120,000 to $140,000;

  • “Emergency” LOHS architect fee of $200,000 after it exceeded $50,000 legal limit;
  • Supplemental budget allocations of $215,000 for lighting and $1.1 million for LOHS;
  • Change order approval authority for LOHS increased from customary $100,000 to $350,000;
  • Competitive procurement waivers for “minor” projects at Hallinan and Westridge; and
  • Oak Creek water intrusion repair advertising waiver for $285,000 when original estimate was less than $125,000, plus $30,000 design fee.

    Without adequate oversight of these projects, the school board’s calls for increased financial support from this community while closing neighborhood schools, leasing portables and cutting teachers is suspect.

    In 2009, John Wendland endorsed Measure 66 and 67 taxes that local residents and major school foundation donors opposed. In 2011, he voted to close three schools despite a “one-time” $2 million handout (from) Lake Oswego and an additional $2.1 million foundation collection to “bridge the gap.” Several months later, he wrote that the school board “will be asking the community for continued financial support to bridge the budget gap next year.”

    As a taxpayer, you are entitled to have a voice in local educational spending. I look forward to bringing financial accountability to the Lake Oswego School District’s budget process.

    Karen Delaney, Lake Oswego, is a candidate for Lake Oswego School Board, Position 3.



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