Saturday, March 30, 2013

Still No Response From The Board - What Are They Hiding?

It's been two weeks since I first emailed our entire school board questions regarding the recent publishing of school board meeting packets on the district website. I asked the board why they decided not to publish the Bill Payments. I received an initial response from board member Ruth Ann Newman. However, no one has responded as to why their decision wasn't discussed during open meeting or why their decision wasn't documented in the board meeting minutes. Our school board is the voice for the community and is obligated to keep the community informed. By not documenting this decision in the board meeting minutes and not responding to questions gives the community even more reasons to doubt the honesty and integrity of our school board and administration.

The questions that our school board has not yet responded to are:
  • Was the decision to post the board meeting packets on the district website made at the February 19 BOE Meeting?
  • Why wasn't the decision to post board meeting packets listed as a business item for discussion in the February BOE meeting agenda?
  • Why wasn’t the decision to post board meeting packets documented in the board meeting minutes?
  • Why wasn't the decision to post board meeting packets discussed in an open meeting? 

Very Valid Questions
The questions I posed to our board members are definitely valid questions. Some of the questions I posed to the board were asked of me by other public officials after I informed them that board meeting packets had been posted on the district website without the Bill Payments.

If a decision is made to change the way the district has been doing business for more than a decade it should be documented in the meeting minutes. According to school board policy 0405, the Board of Education speaks through its minutes. Therefore, this decision should have been recorded in the minutes. Picking and choosing what portion of the District's Public Records they wish to post is not an option.

Reason Not To Post Bill Payments Raises Eyebrows
Literally!! Everyone I've spoken to as to why our school board decided not to post the Bill Payments on the district website causes them to raise their eyebrows in disbelief.

So, why did the school board decide not to post the bill payments on the district website?

Board member Ruth Ann Newman informed me in an email on Monday March 18, 2013 that the reason that the the board didn't post the bill payments on the district website was that, "Right now, we felt like this was a privacy issue--not for the employees, but for the students.  Someone is checking to see what other districts are doing and why, or why not."

Why would there be privacy concerns for the students? It really doesn't make sense. But, that's the reason that was given by our school board.

When I made Missouri Sunshine Law requests for board meeting packets in the past, the bill payments were always included with the board meeting packets that the school sent me. The school board meeting minutes references the pages in the board meeting packets that are the bill payments. The board members approve these bill payments each month.

So, what are they hiding from the public by not posting the bill payments?

Call or email your school board members and ask them. It appears that they may not respond to your questions. You have the right to know how your taxpayer dollars are being spent. Our school board gets an "F" for failing to disclose this information. Perhaps the board doesn't want you to know until AFTER the school board elections. Once the bill payments get posted online, the community will be able to find out how much it cost the taxpayers for the "cease and desist" letters that our Superintendent sent out to members of our community because she didn't like the criticism she was receiving.

Hopefully, the patrons of our school district will show their discontent with our current school board in the upcoming election by voting in new school board members. Our community has the opportunity to make a positive change to our school board by replacing the incumbents on April 2, 2013. We need school board members that are responsive to the community and believe in Open Government and Transparency.

Please vote for Mark Jones and Steve Holloway for Fox C-6 School Board on Tuesday April 2, 2013!