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Hart district: Active oversight for Measure SA funds

Hart district to appoint committee to give direction on Measure SA projects

Posted: March 17, 2009 12:32 a.m.
Updated: March 17, 2009 4:59 a.m.

The Hart district board will appoint nine members of the Measure SA oversight committee Wednesday, but there's lingering concern over how much input the group will have.

"We're not an afterthought committee," said Joe Messina, member of Hart Parents for Reform and a Measure V oversight committee member.

Messina wants the oversight committee to have an active role in giving the William S. Hart Union High School District advice and direction on Measure SA projects before money is spent.

Rob Gapper, chief operations officer for the Hart district, said the oversight committee's opinions will be taken into consideration.

"Our intent is that our group will function as much more of a sounding board for us as we begin to develop projects," Gapper said.

Committee members will receive updates about Measure SA projects during every meeting, Gapper said.

Local voters approved the $300 million bond in November 2008.

The money will go towards the construction and upgrades of classrooms and buildings and will build a high school in Castaic.

Nine members will serve on the oversight committee, Gapper said, and added the names of committee members will be available during Wednesday's meeting.

Hart district officials met with members of Hart Parents for Reform, a group of community members against Measure SA, last October.

A majority of Hart Parents for Reform then agreed to stop their opposition to Measure SA based on their discussions for expanding the scope of the $300 million bond measure's oversight committee, Messina said.

"Those things were agreed upon in our meeting," Messina said. "Those are the reasons we totally backed down."

Messina said the ad hoc selection committee would include representatives from the business community.

The selection committee included board members, district officials and Carl Goldman, owner of KHTS 1220-AM radio station and a member of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Messina said the district did not solicit applications from the community and applications for the selection committee were still not ready months after the bond passed in November 2008.

"I know they (have) other things going on. I am understanding and appreciative," he said. "But this a big deal. This is not anything small."

Gapper responded: "I'm not sure when the application was ready, but I know that we had a pretty good response to the application."

The application deadline was extended from Feb. 27 to March 2 to allow for more people to apply, he said.

Gapper said the district expects to seat the oversight committee members on Wednesday, days before the March 21 deadline.

For Messina, it comes back to keeping track of the district's accountability in a tough economy.

"I want to make sure there's enough press and enough information out there to let them know that we're not going to stop watching," Messina said. "We want to make sure nobody gets comfortable."


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