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Saugus District Satisfied with Measure EE

| News | May 10, 2018

A member of the Saugus Union School District’s nine-person citizens oversight committee said the committee is satisfied the district is not misusing Measure EE construction-bond funds.

“We haven’t seen anything to suggest otherwise,” Jason Gibbs said.

At issue was an item in the audit for the year ending June 30, 2017 for $263,863 in salaries and benefits. State law says bonds may not be used for teacher and administrator salaries or non-bond operating expenses.

Richard Michael, who runs the website Big Bad Bonds, has said that the actual text of the Measure EE bonds differs on various pages, which gives districts “reliable cover to do what they’re doing … to siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars in bond money.”

The actual text on page 1 of the Measure EE bond, which voters approved in 2014, says the bond proceeds cannot be used for “teacher and administrator salaries and any other school non-construction operating expenses.”

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Yet, on page 11 the text differs slightly, saying that “teacher and non-construction related administrator salaries and other non-construction related operating expenses” are prohibited.

Gibbs said he understands how the bond text can cause misunderstanding, and he said he remains vigilant to ensure the district continues to operate within the law.

Michael said Monday that an oversight committee has two responsibilities: to determine if funds are being used properly and to inform the public of how the funds are being used. He said the Saugus committee is failing to do the latter.

“If the people know about it and say OK, that’s one thing,” Michael said, “but for a handful to determine it’s legal and not report it, to me that’s beyond the pale. … People could not do anything about it, or people could complain.”

If someone chooses to complain, he said, the only legal recourse is to go to the district attorney.

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About Lee Barnathan

Lee Barnathan has been a writer and editor since 1990. His articles have been published in newspapers, magazines and online. His new book "If You Experience Death, Please Call and Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language," a humorous look at the ways people misuse English, is available on Amazon or at his website, www.leebarnathan.com. He is hired by people all over the country to help them refine the message or story they wish to share with their target audience or demographic.

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