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School funds unaffected despite questions

Some have inquired on the district's inability to display receipts of earlier bond spending.

July 14, 2010|By Jason Wells, jason.wells@latimes.com

Burbank Unified School District officials for weeks have been unable to produce original receipts for how it spent a $112.5-million bond approved by voters for facility upgrades, and with several field improvements still unfinished, the City Council appears ready to dole out millions more.

The city has agreed to jointly fund at least $14 million in field-improvement projects that may have been eligible for the bond money, which prompted Councilman David Gordon to call for an accounting of how the money from Measure B97, approved in 1997, was spent.

But in the weeks since, school district officials have been unable to track down original receipts for city officials or the Burbank Leader, instead offering to reconstruct budgets.

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Incoming Supt. Stan Carrizosa assured the City Council last week that his staff had worked hard trying to locate all the documents, but that changes in sites and personnel had made it hard to access old information.

Despite the lack of a paper trail, Carrizosa said he was confident there was no missing millions.

"The real mystery now, I think, is accounting where they were spent," he said.

Measure B97 passed with more than 71% of the vote in 1997, and was to be used to modernize classrooms and school facilities, not for administrator and teacher salaries.

All expenditures were also to be monitored by a community oversight committee, but eight years after presiding over roughly $84.5 million in bond spending, some members publicly complained that they were often unable to carry out their obligations because of a lack of information from the district.

Despite a lack of original receipts, the school district does not appear to have violated state regulations enacted after Measure B97 was passed requiring administrators to keep strict accounting records of voter-approved spending.

After taking the school district to task for failing to produce the receipts, Gordon remained alone in calling for further examination, with Mayor Anja Reinke calling it "your issue."

Other council members said the lack of receipts was not surprising given the length of time that had passed, and as a result, they were not prepared to freeze city spending on unfinished projects.

Chloë Mayer contributed to this report.

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