Board names panel to oversee school bond work


Decision leaves some parents unhappy about committee's membership

Despite opposition from parents and others, the Portland School Board on Monday night approved a seven-member "Citizen Accountability Committee" to oversee the capital construction bond work that would come from the $482 million bond measure upon voters' approval on Nov. 6.

The only problem with the proposed committee, one parent charges: there isn't anyone from the community on the panel.

The committee is:

• Kevin Spellman, a retired construction contractor

• Anita Decker, chief executive officer, Bonneville Power Administration

• Willy Paul, executive director, Kaiser National Facilities Services

• John Mohlis, executive secretary, Oregon State Building Trades Council

•Steve March, Multnomah County Auditor

•Louis Fontenot, Development Manager, Trammell Crow Co.

• Tom Peterson, chief engineer, Port of Portland

The group is hardly inclusive of the district's diverse community, says Mike Rosen, legislative chairman for the Cleveland High School PTA and a volunteer for the bond measure who's long followed school district politics.

"They want to rally the community; they want this to be community owned. This isn't doing that," he says. "As they start building schools, when they misstep, they need watchdogs in the community to hold them accountable."

The committee should include people from communities of color, teachers, principals and students, Rosen says. It should include someone with expertise in sustainability.

The citizen committee is charged with meeting quarterly to monitor the planning and progress of the bond work, related to the voter-approved work scope, schedule and budget objectives. It's charged with making sure the bond money is used only for the purposes approved, reviewing the bond program's audits, and communicating key information to the school board and community.

As far as its members, the committee is to include "a mix of individuals with a good reputation in the community for fairness and transparency, and people with a combination of experience in building design, construction, construction financing, public contracting, budgeting and/or auditing."

Rosen points out that the district's long-range facilities advisory group consisted of 36 members, which wasn't considered too unwieldy then.

"I'm not asking for 36 members, but they could certainly add six or seven more and truly make this an accountable committee," he says.