Thursday, October 27, 2011

Between the Lines, DeForest Times-Tribune Decries Loss of Revenue

11/50 a.m. Update:  The headline should probably read, 'Hometown News Group Decries Loss of Revenue".  The same editorial appears in the Monona Herald-"Independent".  (OK, I confess; I added the quotation marks.  Does this mean I need to critique the Monona Grove School District website?  Maybe later.)

Editorial: Keep board proceedings in print. (DeForest Times-Tribune, 10/21/2011)

Excerpt: A bill is circulating in the Wisconsin Assembly that would no longer require school boards to publish their proceedings in the local newspaper, allowing them to be posted instead online. Speaking solely as advocates for open government, we believe this bill is bad public policy.

In a memorandum seeking co-sponsors, Rep. Ed Brooks (R-Reedsburg) said the bill is being circulated at the request of a school superintendent within his district. School districts statewide are looking to minimize operating costs in an era of shrinking budgets and strained resources and we can understand the motive behind this bill.

But in these times where school districts are under the microscope more than ever before, it doesn't make sense to eliminate one of the primary means taxpayers have to keep an eye on their local school board. Eliminating the proceedings of school board activities would put the onus on citizens to track down the actions of their elected officials

Let's put this hyperbole on pause. It's not as though the school district mails copies of minutes to all residents. Putting the minutes online actually improves access. And for those who don't have Internet access at home, they can visit the DeForest Area Public Library, one of the busiest library facilities in Dane County.  The library's homepage even provides a direct link to the school district's website.

But I do have a suggestion or two.

Make clear that the "About" link is where the school board proceedings are found.

Give prominent display to items in box.

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