Committee formed to study controversial PUSD bonds
By Steve Dreyer
A new committee comprised of experts in the fields of finance and business is meeting in private to determine what, if anything, can be done about the controversial Poway Unified School District capital appreciation bonds.
Calling themselves the “Bond Review Committee,” the seven-member panel was organized last month by former PUSD trustee Jeff Mangum, now a candidate for the Poway City Council. It first met on Sept. 19 and will hold its second meeting next week.
The committee will study all aspects of the district’s bond and plans to explore other aspects of the school renovation program, Mangum said. Possible mitigation measures will be explored as well, he said.
A full report, either written, oral or both, will be presented to the school board but not before the Nov. 6 general election, he said.
“It (the committee) can’t help me but it can help the district and the community.”
Mangum served 16 years on the school board until stepping down in 2010. His participation in the board’s October 2007 decision to place a second round of school construction bonds on the February 2008 ballot has been criticized by some in the community, including supporters of other Poway City Council candidates.
The names of the committee members are being withheld until the report’s release, he said, to remove politics from the equation. Panel members include “two financial guys,” someone with expertise in school administration, a local elected official and several business people. The committee has already spoken to “a bond guru not in area who is well aware of (PUSD) bond issue and is a little bit of a reformer in bond industry.”
“From the center of my heart, this is not intended to be a political whitewash,” Mangum said. “We really have to come to understand something that is a web of maddening complex issues.”
Mangum said at least a couple of the members are going into the process clearly upset with the school district’s use of the capital improvement bonds, which will earn interest for 20 years before the first payment is made. The $105 million in “Series B” capital appreciation bonds will cost non-Mello-Roos district taxpayers $1 billion by the time they are paid off in 40 years.
“I can tell you that a couple of these folks are vocally critical that the bond payoff is 9-to-1,” Mangum said.
Panel members were suggested by various community members, he said.
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