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Despite Assurances They Would, AUSD Has Still Not Investigated Pass-Through Funds

Despite assurances from AUSD Board President Mike McMahon last December, Alameda Unified School District has still not followed up to investigate whether or not redevelopment pass-through funds are being transferred correctly from the City to AUSD.

Action Alameda launched an investigation last year into redevelopment funds from various project areas in Alameda – Alameda Point Improvement Project (APIP), the Business Waterfront Improvement Project (BWIP), the West End Community Improvement Project (WECIP) – that collect property tax-increment for redevelopment projects, but are supposed to “pass-through” certain amounts to the Alameda Unified School District.

We identified the District Housing Fund, and the District Capital Outlay Fund as two special funds with a sum total of roughly $4 million, that were being held by the City of Alameda, but not reported on AUSD’s books, and not broken out separately on the City’s books. Then-board member Mike McMahon denied that the District Capital Outlay Fund even existed, until we went public with the evidence. Finally, in October 2008, the City of Alameda cut a check for about $1 million payable to AUSD, to transfer the balance of the District Capital Outlay Fund to the District. We understand that some of that money was used for the new portables at Otis school. (You’re welcome, east-end parents!)

But there were still other documented amounts of pass-through funds that we found on City filings and state reports that we could no corroborate with matching entries on AUSD’s books. We asked the school district to respond with answers about these funds, and AUSD Board President Mike McMahon told us in December:

The new CFO is reviewing the redevelopment agreements to determine the dollars owed to AUSD and what course of action is needed to acquire them, if appropriate. The CFO plans make a recommendation to the new Superintendent in the first quarter of 2009.

This week, Mr. McMahon told us:

On behalf of the Board thank you for following up. Staff has been focused addressing the newly adopted State and a new modified zero-based budget process. As a result of this shift in priorities, it has not allowed staff to answer your questions. I will follow up with them to determine a timeline when you can expect an answer to your follow up.

Before AUSD gets too far down the path of proposing a permanent parcel tax for schools funding, they had better get to the bottom of these redevelopment pass-through agreements, and provide answers to Alameda residents and parents about whether or not taxpayer dollars intended for the schools are indeed reaching the schools.

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