School Bond Transparency Report Card (2019)
Since 1988, the San Diego Taxpayers Educational Foundation (SDTEF) has conducted research on issues relevant to taxpayers, such as measuring the transparency and accountability of public institutions leveraging taxpayer dollars. Taxpayers should be able to quickly determine if school district officials have carried out the new schools, classroom upgrades, and security improvements promised to voters at the time of a facilities bond measure proposal.
By compiling the existence of that information since its first release in 2013, this report is intended to serve as a tool that San Diego County school districts with active bond programs can use in the ongoing process of improving transparency. The Transparency Report Card, then, summarizes the information made available by school districts and its Independent Citizen Oversight Committee and assigns each district a percentage grade.
SDTEF must note that the Transparency Report Card only makes note of the existence of the criteria examined and does not comment on the quality of the material available or the ease of access. While there are many criteria that go into making a school facilities bond program effective, the scope of this study focuses solely on transparency, defined as the accessibility of information that makes it possible for taxpayers to assess the performance of school facility bond programs. Our recommendations at the end of the report, however, suggest how to improve these aspects of a district’s bond program.
Overall, our findings show a general improvement in region-wide transparency. The average transparency grade of ICOCs has increased slightly from 90.6% in 2018 to 91.8% in 2019. Of the twenty-three school districts with active bonds, only two failed to meet at least 70% of the criteria examined. Twenty out of twenty-three school districts (87%) met over 85% of the categories, which is the same as 2018. Twelve districts had perfect scores, representing a 4- district increase from last year.