The Major v. The Committee

by AVA News Service, October 26, 2011

Major Scaramella, as readers may recall, was somehow — probably by mistake — appointed to the School District’s structurally pointless school bond “oversight committee” last year. Last month The Major was on the losing end of a 5-1 vote to point out the obvious in the committee’s annual report — that the oversight committee hasn’t had any constitutionally required “results” so far because the school hasn’t sent them anything to formally review. Undaunted, The Major sent a recent, informative Willits News article by reporter Jennifer Poole about the Willits School District’s wasting money on design work for their bond projects that there’s no money to actually build to his fellow committee members as a cautionary tale.

Oversight Committee Chairman Bill Sterling replied: “Dear Mark, Thanks for the article about the Willits experience. The article encourages me to encourage the Anderson Valley Oversight Committee members to attend and participate in our own school board meetings whenever possible. My own experience to date when prioritization of work financed by the bonds has been an agenda item has been that suggestions, questions, observations, and expressions of concern voiced by the likes of [committee member] Doug Elliott, Ric Bonner, George Lee and yours truly have been welcomed as useful and pertinent. I shall let Doug, Ric and George speak for themselves about their sense of what our contributions and impact have been. My own sense is that what the four of us have contributed has made a palpable impact. — Best regards, Bill.”

The Major replied: Dear Mr. Sterling, With all due respect, that's not ‘my sense’ at all. I see nothing resembling ‘prioritization’ at the school board level or the committee level, other than the obvious ‘elementary school first’ semi-priority. But if there's something I'm missing, perhaps in the minutes to the School Board meetings or whatever may be going on in the loosely organized ‘superintendent's committee,’ I'd be happy to change ‘my sense.’ That's not to say that some of the ongoing architectural work and costing won't be useful in prioritizing. Prioritizing, however, involves a formal list of options and a numeric ranking while keeping a keen eye on the bottom line of the impact of the top ranked items to stay within available funds. If anything like that has happened, it certainly escaped my attention. My point in forwarding the Willits News piece was to point out that there's no point spending money on planning for project elements that won't end up being funded because they are low ranked. Willits Unified has made several errors like that and we should try to avoid them in AV. Thanks for the note. — Mark Scaramella, Committee member, Boonville.”

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