Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fox C-6 Board Member Dan Smith Wants To Make Government “As Transparent and Easy To Understand As Possible”!

Dan Smith is running for the Missouri State House of Representatives in District 113 and wants to go to Jefferson City.  He stated in an Arnold Patch article on March 1, 2012 that “We need to give government back to the people and make it as transparent and easy to understand as possible.”  If that is the case, perhaps Mr. Smith can explain why the Fox C-6 School Board and School District have refused to publish the school board packets on the district website as I have been requesting for quite some time.  That would show that he truly believes in transparency and it’s not just political talk!  I have made Sunshine Law requests personally to obtain copies of the board packets which are sent out every month to the board members.  However, I have only been provided the board packets AFTER the board meetings have occurred and not before even though I have requested otherwise.  Additionally, the patrons of the district have not been informed of decisions made by the school board until more than a month after a school board meeting.  The board minutes are not published onto the district website until after they have been approved at the next school board meeting.  I have asked for Draft Copies which should be available within 3 days of a school board meeting per Sunshine Law and have been able to obtain some draft copies using that method.  But, why can’t those draft board meeting minutes be published on the district website like other school districts?  That would give the appearance that our school district is attempting to be transparent rather than giving the appearance of trying to hide information.

Board packets are provided to the board members ahead of board meetings so they can review the information prior to the meeting and hopefully make informed decisions for the patrons of our school district.  However, the patrons of the school district have not been afforded the same transparency that Dan Smith is touting as part of his campaign.  If so, the district would graciously publish the board meeting packets on the district website for the patrons to review prior to the upcoming school board meeting allowing patrons to ask their board members who represent them questions concerning those issues prior to the board members voting on them.

Doesn’t that seem like a reasonable request?

You should contact your two school board members Mr. Dan Smith and Mrs. Cheryl Hermann who are both running for other public offices while still serving as school board members, why the patrons of our school district are not provided the same information as the school board members prior to school board meetings?  MANY other school districts publish their board packet information on their district websites prior to school board meetings.  Wentzville is a great example of transparency in action.  I gave Wentzville as an example at the August 2011 board meeting and brought it to our school board’s attention.  However, I was told by Mrs. Dianne Brown, our superintendent, that our school district does not have a dedicated person maintaining the district website in order to do that and instead chooses to put its money into the classroom.  Really?

That was a very interesting statement that our superintendent made considering the fact that after receiving copies of the board packets through Sunshine Law requests which included the salary schedules for district employees, I found that the district does indeed have a full time person employed as a Web Designer.  That person makes over $40,000 per year and has been with the school district for more than 7 years.  So, her explanation as to why the documents can’t be posted on the website doesn’t seem very credible now does it?

So, what is so difficult for that person to publish our school board packets onto the district website?  It is a simple drag and drop of a file onto a district web server file folder and then creating a hyperlink on a web page.  Maybe it is due to the fact that salary schedules and check register listings are contained in the district board packets?  School employee salaries are Public Information and the taxpayers/patrons of our school district do have the right to know how our taxpayer dollars are being spent.  The check registers include payments to all vendors paid each month and those payments are presumably reviewed by our board members and then approved each month since there is a motion each month documenting the approval of those payments.

So, Mr. Dan Smith, since you refuse to respond to my emails, maybe you can explain to other constituents why our school district does not publish school board packets on the district website or for that matter why our district website is in such a mess compared to other districts that our superintendent likes to compare us to.  I challenge our school district patrons to find an email address for Mr. Smith or Mrs. Hermann on our district website to contact them directly.  You will not find one.  What you will find is an email address which states that it goes to the school board which is  However, in reality it goes directly to the school board secretary who forwards it to the appropriate person and not directly to the school board as you are lead to believe.  You also won’t find any other contact information for our school board members such as an address or phone number like there are on many other school district websites in the area.  Why is that?

Mr. Smith also stated in his March 2012 Arnold Patch article from his press release when he announced his run for State Representative, “People in the community need someone who is approachable.“  So, how approachable is Mr. Smith if he has NO contact information as a school board member on the school district website?  I have asked the school board several times to publish email addresses, phone numbers and addresses for our school board members and have been told that they are not on the website.

It does not appear that our school board members really want to listen to or represent the will of our community if you cannot contact them does it?

Will things change if they hold a different office or should you rely more so on the examples they have shown to our community while they have been school board members?

You will have your chance to decide on November 6, 2012 as to whether or not you believe Mr. Smith will do what he says he will.  I personally believe that Past Actions Speak MUCH LOUDER than Words!  Don’t you?