Sky-Hi Transparency Project School District Evaluations
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West Grand SchoolsEast Grand Schools
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ScoreNotesScoreNotesGeneral notes
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WebsiteMinutes & agendas posted for past three years (5) Bonus for posting board meeting packet (+2)7Agendas and minutes since 2011, packets available.7Partial agendas in 2010-2011, all agendas since 2011-2012.Packets available. Minutes since 2009-2010Websites are becoming extremely important to the voting public. They can serve to alleviate the need for copying fees and records research/retrieval fees. If governments are proactive in posting information and making records available online, it saves government staff the exercise of answering phone calls and responding to simple records requests, and it saves the public from having to pay sometimes ridiculous fees for retrieval. The more transparent the website, the better for everyone.
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Budget/expenditures posted for past three years (5)4Budgets, financial reports, audits all avaiable, but only for past two years (-1). Check registers aslo available for current year5Budgets and finacial statements since 2009-2010
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Contact information of elected officials/staff (5)4Personalized contact info, including phone numbers and emails, for all board members. Personalized emails for all staff, but not phone numbers (-1)3Key staff only have emails, not phone numbers (-1). Board of education page only lists members' emails. Their phone numbers are avaiable for two members via a "contacts" column on the right side of the BOE page, but this is confusing. (-1)The public is entitled to contact information of the people it elects for representation. Contact information should be on each government website, and should be easy to find.
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Taxes and test scores posted (5)2.5The district page has a "student performance" page, but this mostly includes links to the Colorado Department of Education to get any information. Information on school adminstered tests and school performance is available in the Unified Improvement Plan PDF document, generated through CDE. The district could do a better job explaining what the numbers mean and what they show about the district's performance. No actual "accountability report" was found (-1). A revenue breakdown is available in the budget PDF online, but we couldn't find any information on levied taxes (-1). The tax burden information is not easy to find (-.5) NOTE: Since the Sky-Hi brought this to her attention, the district's financial director Martha Schake immediately added the tax burden information to the website. 3There is a "student achievement data" link on the "About EGSD" page, but there is no information available after clicking the link. Eventually this information is found by clicking "District/School Improvement Plans" on the same page. (confusing, -.5) Within these links is the Colorado Department of Education's data on School Performance Frameworks. While these documents generally explain TCAP tests are administered and note the district's performance, the school district could do a better job in explaning what the numbers mean and what they show about the district's performance. No actual "accountability report" was found. (-1). Tax information is avaible in PDF documents, including the budget, under the "Finance Page." While all the information is therefore available on the website, it takes some digging. (-.5)At a minumum, school district websites should include an accountability report each year, which includes test results from end-of-year state tests. Per Ballotpedia: "Those annual reports must also include a host of other factors about teachers and students, all specified in federal law. They are required to state which standaridzed tests are administered to students as well as the district's performance. Websites should also publish information on the tax burden for those living within the district, which includes taxes levied and a revenue breakdown by federal, state and local taxes in the budget.
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Open records procedures and fees published (5)0No procedure or fees found. Furthermore, the district adminstrative assistant to the board and superintendent, who the public would most likely contact for records, has her own page but it does not include her name or contact information, which is very confusing.0No procedure or fees found.There should be no suprises when a person request records from a government agency. Reasonable fees should be clearly outlined to prevent this.
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Meetings notification (5)4The website generally explains when meetings are held, but does not have specific dates. It does include a public comment procedure explanation as well. It says meetings held "on second Tuesday of every month unless otherwise posted," but it's not clear where this will be posted. Meetings are, however, included on the homepage monthly calendar. Ultimately, the meetings notification is available on the website, but it's confusing and hard to find. (-1)4.5Meetings notifications are available on some of the district's calendars, but not on others. This is confusing. (-.5), although we like that the meeting notification can be found on the calendar on the home page.
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Total (out of 30)21.522.5
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MeetingsAgendas thoroughness (10)7.5Both agendas and packets lack detail, and provide a very bare-bones explanation of what will be discussed. Generally, however, more detail on specific agenda items is included with the agenda packets, so we only subtract half the points we would have otherwise. (-1.5) Provide neither a place nor address where meeting is held (-1). Times for agenda items are provided. Public comment period is listed as "public address," but provides no instructions to participate. We appreciate that additions and revisions to the agenda are specified with red type.9.5Agendas list place of meeting as "district office," but do not provide an address. (-.5) Provides good description of discussion items, answering the "why I should care" question, except for "roundtables," which deserves an explanation of what that is. Provides times each item will be discussed. Also calls out when board is likely to vote on different items. On a column to the right, provides a description of the "action requested" on each agenda item. Public comment section is clearly called out as "opportunity for audience" and has detailed instructions of how to participate. Agendas also provide advance notice of exective sessions, along with the general legal rationale for each. Agendas should aspire to answer "why should I care?" They should be clear as to what public officials are really doing and discussing. The more detail, the better.
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Minutes thoroughness (10)10Minutes provide excellent detail. Although we couldn't find a case of a board member voting "no" or abstaining," votes are specifically set apart as a roll-call vote. Absent board members are also specified in the roll call votes. 10Not as much detail as some minutes, but sufficiently thorough to have an understanding of what happened and what was discussed. Votes are called out in roll-call style every time, with a very specific record of who votes in favor, who votes against, who abstains and who is absent. Minutes work to follow order of agenda outline. Appreciate that minutes are recorded for workshops as well. There is no law on how minutes should be executed, so there is little way to avoid subjectivity. We gave high scores for the minutes most like transcripts. The best scenario is to actually be at the meeting, but when that is not possible, minutes can serve to give a thorough rundown of meeting details, including discussions. Citizens are entitled to read the opinions of elected officials on all topics as one way to hold them accountable.
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Draft minutes available (2 BONUS)0District secretary Linda Haynes said "We have opted to only furnish minutes that have been approved by the board of education. Anyone is welcome to come in and listen to the recording of the meeting any time."2Draft minutes provided by request.Since it sometimes takes weeks to get minutes approved by a board, we commend governments that share minutes in draft form. According to attorneys with the Colorado Press Assocation, draft minutes are public record and should be made available.
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Automatic email notifciation (2 BONUS)2Yes2Yes
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Exectuve Sessions -infrequency (5)430 executive sessions out of 79 meetings total, or just under 38 percent. We recognize school districts have a great number of employees with personnel issues and sensitive student discussions, so we didn't dock as many points for the high rate of these sessions compared to towns and the county 440 out of 140 meetings had executive sessions, or just over 38 percent. We recognize school districts have a great number of employees with personnel issues and sensitive student discussions, so we didn't dock as many points for the high rate of these sessions compared to towns and the county.The less executive sessions, or closed meetings, the better in the spirit of transparency.
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Executive Sessions - discussion before and after inp public session (5)5Provide good legal rationale and enough detail to understand, generally what was discussed. 5Provide good legal rationale and enough detail to understand, generally what was discussed.We asked for meeting minutes directly before and after an executive session to ensure votes out of session in relation to an executive session are properly recorded. It's important to note, the Colorado Sunshine laws specify that when calling an executive meeting into session, boards should provide as much detail as possible about what that executive session will be about. For example, "negotiations," "personnel issue" or "discussions with the attorney about legal matters" are too vague of reasons and would require more information.
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Total (out of 30)28.532.5
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Budget & FinancialBudget - ease of navigation (10)6The budget is broken up into very specific, very clear sections, which helps make it less intimidating. It does not have an executive summary to help the reader make sense of trends or funds, but it does have a one-page outline that helps summarize the budget (-2). It does not have a table of contents (-2), but very large heading pages do help with navigation. Provides comparisons since 2010, and 2009 in some cases.6The budget includes a table of contents for navigation, and a general fund summary, but no executive summary (-2). Funds have clear headings, but overall this budget is very large and tedious to navigate and make sense of. Figures are in very small type. (-2) Only provides comparisons since 2012, could go further back.Finance details are not everyone's cup of tea, so we encourage government agencies to make budget information as accessable as possible so that every citizen — not just the master accountants — can understand it.
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Budget - charts and graphs (5)0No charts or graphs.0No charts or graphs.
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Budget - executive summary (5)1No executive summary, but does have a general outline and opening spreadhseet that summarize information. They're not much help for readers trying to make sense of the budget and trends.1No executive summary, but has a general fund summary on page 3. It's not a lot of help for readers trying to make sense of budget and trends in plain language.
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Detailed expense reports (10)10Includes check number, date, vendor ID, vendor name, and a general discription of what the payment is for. Very good check register overall, and they're posted each month. 8Includes check number, date paid, the vendor name, amount paid, but does not say what checks are for (-2). Pages are in a small type font and somewhat intimidating to read. Posted each month.Daily expense reports should show, in the least, check numbers, the dates, the names checks were issued to, what the checks were for and the amounts. Pertinant budget information related to checks would be helpful as well.
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Total (out of 30)1715
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Records RequestFees (5)5The district only charges 22 cents per page for copies, less than the 25-cent maximum allowed per law, and no research or retrieval fees.5District charges 25 cents per page for copies, and no research or retrieval fees. A $0-$25 research and retrieval fee has been deemed "reasonable" per the Colorado Court of Appeals. There is no existing open records fee cap in Colorado, but current proposed legislation HB 1193 as currently written seeks to establish a fee cap at four-times the minimum wage, or at $32 an hour. http://coloradofoic.org/what-is-a-reasonable-cora-fee/ State statute caps copy fees at 25 cents per page, but a recent piece from Complete Colorado challenges this fee, saying it far exceeds the actual costs of copying. http://completecolorado.com/pagetwo/2014/03/08/photocopy-costs-10-cents-or-less-but-governments-still-charge-25-cents-for-open-records/
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Response/fulfillment of request (5)5Fully responded and fufilled request.5Fully responded and fufilled request.A Colorado Open Records Request requires a government agency to respond to a request within three working days. If the request requires additional research and work, seven days may be granted to fulfill the request.
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Total (out of 10)1010
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TOTALS77C+80B-
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