Grand jury’s statement on school bond too political
Assuming that the Nevada County grand jury wasn’t dipping its toes into the forbidden waters of politics, its timing couldn’t have been worse when it reported last week on the need for improvements to high schools in western Nevada County.
The condition of our high schools, after all, is the subject of a $15 million bond issue before the voters on March 5.
And voters will be going to the polls just a little more than two weeks after the grand jury issued its report.
Among the strengths of the civil grand jury in Nevada County is the belief that the grand jury keeps itself above politics. Its volunteer members act as the citizens’ watchdog over government. It examines how public agencies conduct their business, investigates citizens’ complaints about government, issues a report each June, and makes public the responses from the agencies it has reviewed.
Occasionally, the grand jury discovers a situation that requires urgent action, a situation that can’t wait until issuance of its annual report. In those cases, the grand jury traditionally has issued an interim report.
Its report on the condition of the high schools – coming as it does in mid-February – is an interim report.
What’s so urgent about the condition of the high schools? They were in bad condition a year ago. Two years ago. Three years ago.
Officials of the high school district have been telling the public for some time about the need to conduct some extensive maintenance of the aging Nevada Union and Sierra Foothills high schools buildings and the need to complete the Bear River High facility.
These officials are trusted by the public. We haven’t heard any public criticism of their assessment of the problems with the high schools.
In short, there’s nothing new in the report by the grand jury. The jury didn’t go so far as to endorse the bond issue.
The facts of the bond issue speak for themselves. They await only the voters’ decision whether they are willing to pay for the improvements.
The grand jury didn’t need to risk its reputation for impartiality for this.
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