|The following report from www.peytonwolcott.com, based on feedback from school districts who have already posted their check registers online
(superintendents, CFO's, other administrators, employees and trustees, is a random anecdotal sampling; feedback has been uniformly positive.
|P E Y T O N W O L C O T T
|H o w w e t a k e b a c k o u r c h i l d r e n ' s e d u c a t i o n -- o n e p e r s o n , o n e q u e s t i o n , o n e s c h o o l a t a t i m e .
|Public school check registers online: 600 districts! 33 states! $73 billion! (October 2009)
|FEEDBACK & COMMENTS FROM SCHOOL DISTRICTS POSTING THEIR CHECK REGISTERS ONLINE PUBLISHED AT www.PeytonWolcott.com
How we take back our children's education:
one person, one question, one school at a time.
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|Copyright 1999-2009 Peyton Wolcott
|Local school district check registers online: An idea whose time has come. Is your district willing to
be perceived by your community as being anti-transparency and anti-open government?
|FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.peytonwolcott.com
|MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS (Florida)
Budget: $6.8 billion Students: 400,000
Superintendent: Alberto Carvalho. The 4th-largest public school district
of the 15,000 in the U.S., Miami-Dade posted its check register online
on January 14, 2008. Marta Perez was the trustee who brought this to
then-superintendent Rudy Crew and the board.
BESSEMER CITY SCHOOLS (Alabama)
Budget: $44 million Students: 3,500
CFO Willie Davis posted his district's check register online in 2005 in
Excel format as part of moving the district towards greater transparency
and accountability; he reports no additional costs for providing this service.
DALLAS ISD (Texas)
The 2nd-largest public school district in Texas.
Budget: $1.7 billion Students: 158,000
Superintendent: Eliu Misael "Mike" Hinojosa
Fallout: "Everything's absolutely positive, and there's been no
negative fallout--we're one of the first in the state to post our check
register online," said a district spokesperson. Logistics, goals for the
future: "We're talking to our IT people to see if we can simplify the
process so that people can go to the online check register more
quickly and directly."
MARBLE FALLS ISD (Texas)
Budget: $40.5 million Students: 4,000
Ryder Warren, superintendent: "We have had absolutely no issues."
Kelly Fox, trustee: "Peyton is always innovatively at the cutting edge
of the promotion of school reform. This is yet one more example of her
efforts to improve the quality of our schools by championing open
records of our spending. As a board member I highly recommend that
all districts make their spending more transparent and be accountable
to the taxpayers."
SPRING BRANCH IS D (Texas)
Budget: $300.6 million Students: 32,000
Duncan Klussmann, superintendent: "Posting our check registers
online has been something that's worked for us with very minimal
effort to get it up and running; I believe school districts are running
moving in this direction. We try to be a very transparent district. We
have a strong and supportive community, and we feel that being
transparent supports that." Klussmann added that when he first came
into education it was common for all checks to be included with the
board packets and an approval item at board meetings. Obstacles and
stumbling blocks: "Our financial software is older and DOS-based, not
designed to generate reports, but once we got our first report as a
model it went quickly." Special kudos: "We have a wonderful finance
person, Karen Wilson, who took this on."
Additional comments: "Anything we can do to take raw data as we're
required to report it by the state and make it more accessible to our
community is a benefit." Extra expense: None. Fallout? No increase
in public records requests. "The only thing you do worry about is
someone looking at something and not understanding; you'd sit down
with the person and explain it to them." Goals for the future: Make the
link more accessible, in fewer clicks.
|CLOVIS USD (California)
Budget: $300 million Students: 37,000
NOTE: Clovis USD, north of Fresno in California's San Joaquin Valley, was
among the first school districts in the nation to put its entire check register
online -- a natural next step, according to a district spokesman, as part of its
move to a paperless board packet. Check register information included:
Check number, payee name, dollar amount, date, account. If there are
questions about checks: We'd first invite them in and try to answer their
questions. Bill McGuire, CFO: We completed posting to our website our
check registers over 5 years ago as the 1st part of our electronic agenda.
The board, district administration and community have been very supportive
of our school district's providing as much information as possible in an
MONTROSE PUBLIC SCHOOLS (Michigan)
Budget: $ 14 million Students: 1,900
Superintendent Mark Kleinhans was the first superintendent to post his
district's check register online in Michigan. Problems reported: None.
BIG SPRING ISD (Texas)
Budget: $28.1 million Students: 3,900
Sandra Waggoner, chief financial officer: "Posting our check register
online really isn't any extra work; it's the same check register we give our
board each month, then we just PDF it to our webmaster." Sandra is
BSISD's public information officer; the district only receives 3-4 ORR's per
year. "Most are not people trying to stir up something, just, 'I'm curious.' "
Logistics: BSISD's bookkeeper sends a PDF file to superintendent's
secretary for TASB BoardBook, and sends a duplicate copy of the PDF file
to the webmaster who uploads and creates a link so it's available for the
public. Extra expense: None. Fallout? No increase in public records
requests. Goals for the future: Keep each month's check registers online
for one year.
NEDERLAND ISD (Texas)
Budget: $ 37.9 million Students: 5,100
Gail Krohn, superintendent: "I think it's important for a district to share
pertinent financial information with the community and the taxpayers; that's
what's important. I'm very proud of our business manager that she tries her
very best to make things simple and understandable for the taxpayers of
NEW CANEY ISD (Texas)
Budget: $79.8 million Students: 8,700
Cindy Reynolds, secretary to superintendent/media relations
"Posting our check registers online saves us some time on generating
information that people might request otherwise. This is the best way to
approach it. It never occurred to us to not post this public information.
When you form partnerships with your community, you have to be above
reproach. We're all partners, we're all taxpayers. We have to be
accountable in all areas." Fallout? "Parents and support organizations
question us from time to time regarding expenditures--not that we've been
questioned on how but where--and they're certainly entitled to that
information." Logistics: NCISD uses TASB's BoardBook software.
Extra expense: None; check registers are a free feature of BoardBook.
Copyright 2006-2009 Peyton Wolcott