Saturday, December 24, 2005

All School Districts Should Follow Suit.

What a great Christmas and Chanukah present to the taxpayers aka the employers of the District 15 staff. Full disclosure! District 15 among other items will be placing full contracts including pay-tables and a full account of the budget online for all people to access. Bravo. If school districts really want residents to support a referendum let them have full access to district information truly be open and honest to the voters. What are school districts hiding that will not fully disclose this information?

Daily Herald
Saturday, Dec. 24, 2005
Dist. 15 public documents can be seen online
By Nadia Malik
Daily Herald Staff Writer

Everything from the teacher salary schedule to lunch menus to a full
account of the budget can now be found on Palatine Township
Elementary District 15's Web site.

Ever since a discussion in October about disclosing more public
information on the Web, the district has been working to rearrange
its site.

"Anything that anybody could want to know on the district is up
there," school board President Scott Boucher said.

That includes negotiated agreements with the three unions the
district works with, under the new "documents" tab on the home page,
and information on improvement plans for each of the district's 20

Much of the material has also been cross-referenced at various places
on the Web site.

The same information has also been distributed to the Palatine,
Rolling Meadows and Barrington libraries.

At the October board meeting, there was a dispute about whether the
items should be put online, but board members eventually agreed the
documents are worthy public information.

Although district officials can't monitor who is looking at the
materials, as they could when interested residents had to file a
Freedom of Information request, Boucher said they still have the
capability to track how many people view a certain section.

"It's just so we know, so we can get a better feel for what people
are looking at and if we need to make modifications," Boucher said.

The district's Web site,, will also soon start
including the complete packet board members receive before their

The modifications are all small steps the board has been taking this
past year to change the way it does some of its business.

School board meetings are now videotaped and aired on public access
channels in three towns.

The tapes are played at 5 p.m. Saturdays and 7 p.m. Thursdays in
Palatine, 3 p.m. Mondays in Rolling Meadows and 8 p.m. Thursdays and
Sundays in Hoffman Estates.

"It'll be interesting if we can see what kind of traffic we have and
how many people actually sit and watch (the board meetings)," Boucher

The board also recently decided to have two meetings a month, with
one slated for just discussion items.

"We've decided that there's a lot of issues out there right now,"
Boucher said. "To get a full airing of the issues, the best way to do
that is to break this into two meetings."

The first meeting of the month will be mostly votes on issues and
recognition of awards.

"The other meeting will have no action taken whatsoever," Boucher
said. "Those meetings will strictly be discussion."

Boucher said the board still has to decide what format the discussion
sessions will take and if residents will have to follow the same
rules in the public comments section. As it stands now, residents can
talk for only three minutes each, and the board holds a policy of not
engaging in direct discussion with commentators.

"It's a new idea for us," Boucher said. "We've always had formal
meetings, so it'll be interesting to see how this will work."

The information and suggestions below was sent to us by Kevin Killion of the

Reformer's challenge for the week:
Try asking YOUR district to commit to what Palatine is doing!

I can think of a few more things that full disclosure should include:

-- detailed curriculum standards
-- syllabus for each course
-- textbooks and other purchased curriculum materials,
by grade and subject
-- distribution of assigned letter grades (thx, Dave Carvalho!)
-- statement on commitment to intellectual diversity

-- contracts with key administrators
-- CV for key administrators
-- breakout of degrees earned by teachers, categorized by
degree subject and awarding dept (ed school vs. others)

-- full minutes of meetings, taken by someone other than
a school administrator or employee
-- full description and budget information on all
teacher in-service programs

-- email addresses for all board members
-- surveys: complete results, rather than carefully
excerpted tidbits

(What else should be added to this list?)

For more on meetings and public access to school information, see
Illinois Loop: Illinois Laws and Rules
This includes links on the Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act.

-- Kevin

No comments: