The TUSD Governing Board is prematurely ending the terms of two of its three audit committee members because they live outside of district boundaries.
Chairman Jim Lovelace and Member Chuck Kill will no longer serve on the committee come June 30. The residency requirement, which was not in place when the pair was appointed in 2011, was added into the committee charter in March.
On Tuesday, Governing Board Members Adelita Grijalva, Kristel Foster and Cam Juarez voted to adjust their terms rather than allowing Lovelace and Kill to serve them out.
Lovelace’s departure is only about two months shy of when his term was scheduled to end, but Kill’s term was not set to expire until August 2017.
The Audit Committee was formed in 2007 following accounting errors that cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was tasked with strengthening TUSD’s internal financial controls.
The five-member volunteer committee, which already had two vacancies, now has only one member who resides within the district – Lori Cox.
Board Members Mark Stegeman and Michael Hicks voiced opposition to the charter changes, saying the residency requirement may exclude members of the greater Tucson community willing to share valuable expertise with TUSD for free.
“In my view, the changes to the audit committee charter and what appears to be removing a majority of its current members essentially eviscerates the committee,” Stegeman said.
Applications have been submitted to fill the earlier vacancies but it is unclear when the Governing Board will consider those candidates.
Other changes to the charter added two new seats on the committee — one for the TUSD Chief Financial Officer and the other for a Governing Board member, both of whom will be able to cast votes.
Traditionally, the CFO only sat in on audit committee meetings to provide updates and answer committee members’ questions.
With the exception of approving minutes, electing officers once a year and adjourning meetings, the committee most often serves in an advisory role and rarely votes.
Lovelace, who technically owns property and pays taxes in TUSD but does not reside within its boundaries, was troubled by recent actions taken by the Governing Board majority.
Lovelace believes the charter changes were a direct effort to prevent future oversight, saying “in a district that is large and complex, it should be the poster child for transparency and accountability.”
Lovelace’s volunteer service with TUSD began more than a decade ago and included vouching for the district to get a bond measure approved and later chaired the bond fiscal oversight committee. The bond effort, which recently came to a close, has been lauded as a success.