Financial accountability: one small step

Last week I was browsing for monies being spent on the “Educational Consultant”; the school district has been doing a good job of posting electronic check registers, but unfortunately, they were not organized at all, and only listed from respective regular board meeting agendas. So last Friday I asked for an index on all check registers, and this morning I was pleasantly surprised that they delivered one:

http://www.champaignschools.org/finance-registers.html

 

Woot!

 

Thanks to Stephanie Stuart and David Hohman.

4 Responses to “Financial accountability: one small step”

  1. charlesdschultz Says:

    Those who actually go to look at the index will note that some months are missing (as of 10:20 am) – I am told they will be added in the near future.

    I got my property tax bill yesterday – 2/3rds of all my property taxes go to Unit 4 (thousands of dollars). And that’s not saying anything about the 1% sales tax or the very indirect State and Federal taxes that get funneled (via a very small hole) back to Unit 4.

    It’s not that I mind paying for public schools. Rather, I hope we as a community realize that we taxpayers are ultimately responsible for public schools.

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    I also sent a request that the back-end database be made available as a public read-only copy. Laurie Bonnett (Board President) responded kindly and is deferring to the Finance Director.

    from me:

    Happy Monday! 🙂

    This email is inspired by Adam Andrzejewski’s “Open the books” project.

    Unit 4 has been faithfully exercising transparency by putting check registers, lawyer/attorney fees and investments online. The is an awesome first step in allowing stakeholders a chance to see what is going on “behind the curtain.” Thank you.

    At the last Board meeting (May 13th), Ms. Bonnett asked that more details be provided, for example, the reason for each transaction. That is an excellent request, and I am very curious to learn what will come of the suggestion.

    Finally, in viewing the online check registers, I see that they are essentially one-month reports generated from a database. I request that the school district make a read-only copy of the database available. I realize there are issues of privacy and security – what I am asking for is the data that is already being made public but in a different format. I would be happy to engage in further discussion on a technological implementation, but I also know David Hohman has a very competent team and I am confident this would request would not pose too much of a challenge. *grin*

    May you each have a most wonderful, beautiful Monday.

    PS – shout of thanks to Stephanie Stuart and David Hohman who recently created an index of check registers since 2010.

    from Laurie:

    Thank you for the email Charles. Glad you appreciated the request for more detail.

    I will defer to our finance director. When working with professionals, it is important to allow them to do their job without micro-managing them or their work. If it is determined by the board to require more information in order to make the inner workings of the school district more transparent without invading privacy, I think that is a reasonable request. If it is a request that does not serve the issue of transparency, I would suggest more discussion.

    Thank you for reaching out to all of us so that we can continue to do meaningful work for our children, teachers, staff and ultimately our community.

  3. Karen Says:

    ‘When working with professionals, it is important to allow them to do their job without micro-managing them or their work.’
    Ya, Charles. What do YOU know about professionals (apart from being one, lol). Well-trained or no need to train (given political background):http://www.help4nonprofits.com/NP_Bd_MicroManage_Art.htm

    So backwards, IMO.

  4. charlesdschultz Says:

    @Karen, you make a good point. One of the things I have observed is that folks do not fully understand (much less agree upon) the purpose of Education and the role of the School Board (taking the main points from the article you referenced). I have tried to dive into each in several blog articles:
    Purpose of the school blog: https://thecitizen4blog.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/the-purpose-of-the-school-board/
    Purpose of education (part 2): https://thecitizen4blog.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/the-purpose-of-education-part-2/

    Personally, I think we (all of us) have lost sight of what the school board is supposed to do. I readily admit that times have changed and the needs have evolved – no doubt! But my observation is that the board and administration in general have become too business-like; obviously, there are examples where individuals try to break out of that mold. But overall, there is a significant lack of community input and consensus building, in my opinion. The state writes policy that is impossible for the layperson to understand, and school district administration does their best to implement it, and for the most part school boards agree to it.

    What I would love to see is a champion of the people, one who is intimately aware of our nuances and needs, and who then forces policy reform based on what is best for our community.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: