Citizen Oversight: Financial Transparency & Accountability

Jeffco Schools is committed to rigorous financial oversight procedures, financial transparency and accountability, including a long history of citizen advisory and oversight committees that involve independent citizens with a range of expertise. If 5A and 5B are approved in November, both the mill and bond will be monitored by a citizen oversight committee — as required by the ballot language for 5A and 5B.

In fact, two citizen oversight committees will share that work: the Capital Asset Advisory Committee and the Financial Oversight Committee.

Eight years ago, the Jeffco School Board created the Capital Asset Advisory Committee (CAAC) “to monitor the planning of capital needs and the implementation of capital programs, which may include future bond programs.”

Members of the 2005 Capital Improvement Program Oversight Committee and 2009 Facilities Usage Committee helped build the first team, lending their experience and expertise in facility design, construction practices and business management. In 2010, members from those two groups  merged to become the CAAC.

The nine-member CAAC meets monthly to oversee planning and finances.

As an independent advisory committee, the CAAC routinely evaluates facilities needs for Jeffco Schools, helping the district develop an annual District Wide Facilities Master Plan, monitoring capital needs planning and the implementation of capital programs. The CAAC also ensures the district makes sound, long-term decisions that support the district’s strategic plan and recognizes the district’s needs.

For example, in 2011, upon completion of the extensive 2004 bond program, the CAAC noted that all projects were completed within budget and within the projected timeline.

In 2017, when the district wrapped up the final projects from the voter-approved 2012 “warm, safe and dry” bond program, the CAAC highlighted “that the project was completed on time and on budget” with an added bond premium of $17 million, allowing Jeffco’s Facilities & Construction Management department to expand the scope of their work.

This August, the CAAC notified the Jeffco School Board that it supported placing a bond on the November ballot. Their recommendation noted, “…it is important to recognize the recent success of the 2012-2016 Capital Improvement Program (CIP), as well as the continued foresight of capital asset planning during these challenging times. The Capital Asset Advisory Committee commends the district for its continued diligence in fiscal responsibility which includes the ongoing capital asset planning.”

“If we allow our structures to become old looking and tired, we’re going to begin to lose,” CAAC member Gordon Calahan told the school board in 2016. “People are going to find places where they can get a beautiful school and that beautiful school will encourage education…. When a parent walks into the school and it feels good, looks good, not ratty and rundown, they’re going to say, ‘This is what I want my children to be educated in.’

The teachers and the students are going to feel much better if the school is well lit, the carpet is not worn out, the kitchens and everything are producing the products that we need,” Calahan added.

Jeffco’s finances are simultaneously reviewed by a second citizen oversight committee: the Financial Oversight Committee (FOC). Seven citizens serve on the FOC and meet monthly to oversee how Jeffco Schools allocates resources. The FOC was established in 1999 to allow citizens to review district expenses.

The FOC regularly reviews financial reports, financial information, the district’s internal controls regarding finance, accounting, legal compliance and ethics, and the district’s processes for auditing, accounting and financial reporting.

This summer, the FOC recommended that Jeffco Schools move forward with a mill levy override and a bond. As part of that recommendation, FOC commended “district staff for their proven track record of fiscal responsibility in successfully completing previous programs within scope, on time and within budget and their ability to address capital and growth needs during past and current challenging times.”

Jeffco voters can be confident knowing  that Jeffco citizens will closely monitor how Jeffco Schools uses the funds from a 2018 mill levy override and  bond program. The citizens serving on the Capital Asset Advisory Committee and the Financial Oversight Committee will continue to ensure that these approved taxpayer funds are used wisely.