San Joaquin Delta College disagreed with four of five findings of a recent audit by the state controller’s office into how the school managed — and whether it mismanaged — $250 million of voter-approved debt.
The school admitted that trustees did indeed overreach their authority by extending term limits for members of the Measure L bond citizen’s oversight committee, which violates the state education code.
The college had a hard time finding people to replace outgoing committee members, who are limited to two two-year terms. So trustees amended the bylaws, in apparent violation of state law, to keep the same members onboard.
That was the only finding the college agreed with after a 7½-week audit, which started in early September after Sen. Michael Machado, D-Linden, asked the state agency to investigate the school’s bond money oversight.
State investigators concluded that the college misspent a portion of the 2004-approved Measure L bond money on “state-of-the-art” electronic marquees, athletic tracks, fields and buildings.
Delta justified its $10.9 million of spent bond money as “prudent and appropriate uses of Measure L funds” for needed renovations to the aging college.
The school struggled to keep up uneven sports fields, which pooled up with water and became unsafe to athletes, wrote Vice President of Business Services Jon Stephens in the 10-page response released today.
“There were significant safety concerns” that the bond money fixed, he wrote. And it was unfair that the women’s locker rooms and athletic facilities were worse off than the men’s, he continued.
The sports buildings and fields were also built up to par with American with Disabilities Act standards.
In all, the college spent 3.8 percent of the bond money on sports facility remodeling that the state found frivolous.
Delta rebutted the state’s statement that the school illegally used bond money to pay for operating expenses by paying for open-source software shared with other colleges and universities. The allegation was false because no bond money was used to pay for that, and even if it was, it would have been legal, the college replied.
Additionally, the college defended its Measure L citizen’s oversight committee from charges that members were “passive, perfunctory and ineffective.”
“These members worked diligently at a professional level that protected the interests of taxpayers,” Stephens wrote in the reply, ceding that volunteer members have daily careers “that do not permit exhaustive hours of research on campus.”
Delta also found that state auditors were mistaken in their assessment that the college’s own audits of bond money were insufficient and did nothing to better transparency of how the money was spent.
Conversely, Stephens wrote, the college has “complete faith” in its accounting practices and goes above and beyond what’s required by law.
The bond money has been reviewed by the college itself, an external accountant-auditor, the Delta bond team, the San Joaquin civil grand jury and now the state controller’s office.
And “not one discrepancy, adjustment or error was noted by any of these reviewing authorities,” the college argued.
On Monday, the head of the accreditation team that this summer placed the college on warning status will return for a follow-up visit. At the end of Brian King’s visit, he will conduct a public meeting at 3 p.m. in the Tillie Lewis Theatre at Delta College, 5151 Pacific Ave., in Stockton.
• Contact Tracy Press reporter Jennifer Wadsworth at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.