Citizens provide oversight, accountability for bond funding through committee

Last month, Gresham-Barlow’s Bond Oversight Committee held their fifth meeting. The Committee includes eleven community members from across the Gresham-Barlow School District. These volunteers bring professional experiences in the construction and financial management trades to their review of the District’s budgets and timelines for projects. This oversight provides accountability that the district spends the resources from the 2016 School Bond effectively and with transparency. Committee members review quarterly reports to assess general compliance with the bond program approved by voters.

“As a professional in the industry, I feel like the district has done a good job of managing the scope, the schedule and the budget of all of the projects individually, as well as the entire bond,” said George Seaman. Seaman is one of eleven members of the Bond Oversight Committee and a Gresham resident. He’s a project manager who works for the Port of Portland on similar large construction projects, including an expansion to Portland International Airport. Seaman praised the district for their transparency and willingness to engage with the committee and candidly share about the challenges and successes of the progress on bond-related projects.

“With the regional construction boom and amount of work going on right now, it’s challenging to find and employ subcontractors who can meet construction deadlines,” admitted Seaman. “The school district and general contractors have done a great job.”

“The level of transparency from the district is amazing,” agreed Jason Dugan, Vice Chair of the Bond Oversight Committee.  Dugan is a Gresham resident and electrician. “The district doesn’t hesitate to discuss the nuances that come up with the finances or schedule or other hiccups. This district is doing an amazing job to staying true to their word.”

Gresham-Barlow School District’s commitment to working with local subcontractors also provides an extra economic boost for the community. The Gresham Chamber of Commerce recognized the Gresham-Barlow School District for their effort to invest in local businesses by granting the district the 2017 “Try Local First Champion Award”

The Bond Oversight Committee met in December to review the budgets and progress of the 2016 Gresham-Barlow School Bond projects.
The Bond Oversight Committee met in December to review the budgets and progress of the 2016 Gresham-Barlow School Bond projects.

Committee members said that the opportunity has empowered community members to directly communicate with the District and construction contractors. The community has brought up issues related to noise mitigation of construction, location of new school fences, and concerns about timelines.

“Many of the [Bond Oversight Committee] members come with questions raised by friends and colleagues,” Seaman explained. “You’ve seen a direct engagement with the committee and the community.”

The Bond Oversight Committee meets quarterly, and meetings are open to the public to attend. The next meeting is scheduled for March 20, 2019. Check the Gresham-Barlow School Bond website’s Bond Oversight page for more information about the committee.