Accountability and Transparency for Everyone…Even Board Members.

I genuinely believe people care about what’s happening in their communities and schools but long gone are the days of people having time to physically attend public meetings.  Work, family, social obligations, etc. demand more and more of people’s time than ever before.

This has contributed to the well-documented challenges our District has faced, and continues to face, with parent and community engagement. As elected officials, it’s our responsibility to identify and solve the challenges our communities face, as well as produce effective solutions.

I requested quotes for video/audio recording capabilities in both boardrooms of the Hendry County School Board as I believe it’s in the best interest of transparent service to the public to create video/audio recordings of every workshop and board meeting, and upload recordings to the district’s website for parents, employees, and taxpayers to view at their convenience. Assistant Superintendent Larry Worth reported back that the best bid we received to provide this service would be a one-time $17,000 investment.

Public education has become increasingly accountability-focused. Public school teachers receive VAM scores (which are public record) based on standardized tests scores each year for the purpose of enforcing accountability for student achievement. The collective standardized testing results of a school determines a school’s grade (also public record) for the purpose of holding school administration accountable. The collective standardized testing results of each school determine the district’s grade (also public record) for the purpose of holding district administration accountable for student achievement.

Well, what about accountability for the leadership of elected officials who also receive taxpayer-funded salaries? Hendry County School Board Members collectively receive $180,000 annually in salaries and benefits? (Each member is paid a $27,000 salary and receives an annual benefits package valued at $9,000.) Over a four year term, each School Board Member is compensated approximately $144,000 between salary and benefits.

If transparency and accountability is demanded of the teachers and administrators, then it should be demanded of the elected officials as well. The video/audio recordings will be a cost effective and convenient tool we can provide taxpayers in order to do that.

Can you imagine being able to watch board meetings from the comfort of home? You get firsthand information instead of having to rely on this blog or a local newspaper. I love writing this blog but, to be perfectly honest, it reflects my personal opinions and attitudes toward the topics I write about. All journalism does that to an extent…but not video/audio recordings. Video/audio recordings are unbiased and unflinching.

I’ll admit, the thought of being in front of that camera scares me because I know that by doing so that I’m abandoning the comfort of unattended board rooms for the criticism of unprecedented transparency. I just know that nothing great was ever achieved inside a comfort zone.  Our current comfort zone is a  D-rated school district by the Florida Department of Education. I think it’s time we get out of that zone.

Chairman Dwayne Brown tabled conversation and a potential vote on this topic for the July 14 meeting. I’m inviting anyone who would like to weigh-in on this topic to attend the meeting at 5:30 pm at the Clewiston Sub-Office, or if you can’t attend the meeting, reach out to me and my fellow board members via email before then.

Chairman Dwayne Brown: District1@hendry.k12.fl.us

Vice-Chairperson Sally Berg: District2@hendry.k12.fl.us

John Benkert: District3@hendry.k12.fl.us

Stephanie Busin: District4@hendry.k12.fl.us

Jon Basquin: Stephanie Busin: District5@hendry.k12.fl.us

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read my post. I appreciate your engagement and I’m honored to serve as YOUR District 4 Hendry County School Board Member. All opinions stated within this post or on this website are mine.

~ Stephanie

About stephaniebusin

Mother. Wife. Hendry County School Board Member, District 4. Rural Education Activist. Autism Warrior. Special Needs Advocate.

Posted on June 25, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Kimberly Stitt

    I will forward an email to all Board members that the Hendry County Education Association supports the efforts to make Board meetings more accessible to taxpayers, parents, and district employees. Open and transparent leadership benefits everyone. Debate and questioning are often a way to find better solutions and improve services for students and families. I applaud your efforts as a taxpayer, parent, and teacher. I will be out of town for vacation in July, but I am happy to send you a letter to read into the record if you think it will be helpful. The General Fund has enough of reserve balance to easily cover the expenses for this project so it can be up and running when school starts.

  2. Surely funding can be found for the ability to have Board meetings be accessible in a high tech manner. Sadly, Steph, 35+ years ago, with Eric ad a babe in arms, Board meetings were evenvthen sparsely attended.
    From the Plains of Colorado, I’m keeping track of your outstanding progress, dear Rainbow Girl.Keep digging to the heart of the matter!

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