Vail Daily column: Citizens needed for panel
This November, voters in Eagle County approved ballot question 3A by a 61 percent to 39 percent margin. For the next seven years, 3A will provide $8 million (adjusted annually for inflation) in operational revenue to the district, used for purposes such as raising compensation levels for teachers and staff, restoring student programming lost during the recession, expanding the district’s existing preschool programs and funds to maintain buildings and transportation services.
A key element to 3A’s success was the inclusion of a number of “accountability” provisions in the ballot language. Provisions such as the seven-year sunset to the funds (after which, the district will need to ask permission from the voters to continue them), clarity that none of the funds would be used for senior district administration, and the creation of a Citizen Oversight Committee to monitor the use of the funds.
The Board of Education passed a resolution in October, outlining how they intended the Citizen Oversight Committee to operate. The Citizen Oversight Committee will be made up of individuals across our community, with representation from every major population area in Eagle County, as well as “at-large” members representing up-valley and down-valley communities. The committee will also include diverse political perspectives, with representatives from both major political parties as well as independent and third parties.
Qualifications for the committee are based geographic location and party identification, and also a professional background in finance and/or accounting. Members of the Citizen Oversight Committee will be selected by the district’s existing Finance Committee, which provides yet another level of external oversight over the district’s annual budgeting and accounting processes.
The charge to the Citizen Oversight Committee is to evaluate and verify that the district’s spending, specific to 3A funds, is in line with the language that appeared on the ballot question. The Board of Education retains their role and primary fiduciary responsibility over budgeting decisions. Where the Citizen Oversight Committee comes in is that they make sure that our district is doing what we said we would with 3A funds.
The committee meets four times annually, though the members of the committee are empowered to add or change those meetings as they see fit. The district’s finance staff and myself will also support the committee in their work.
Annually, the Citizen Oversight Committee will issue a report to the community on the district’s expenditures of 3A funds. The committee will strive to operate on a consensus model (getting everyone to agreement), but it is also possible for the committee to issue majority and minority reports, if there is disagreement.
The big idea is to give the public confidence that Eagle County Schools is following through on what we said we would do with 3A funds and to have an outside and independent committee evaluating the district on that effort.
If you are interested in applying to be part of the 3A Citizen Oversight Committee, then you can apply online at. Our goal is to pass applications on to the Finance Committee so they can make their selections this December. So, if you are interested, I encourage you to apply for this role.
Jason E. Glass is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. He can be reached at email@example.com.