Having had the opportunity to experience the last 24 years in USD 441/113, I have been able to witness a variety of changes. One significant change is the increased effort made to provide transparency. USD 113 takes many steps to provide operational information to the constituents of USD 113.
As a tax levying entity, providing financial transparency to tax payers is of utmost importance. In USD 113, an annual budget hearing is conducted. The details of this hearing, along with the notice of the hearing is advertised in the district’s newspaper of record. USD 113 provides financial information (Budget at a Glance) on the district website and will provide a copy of the budget for constituents to review.
Our district is annually audited by a certified public accountant firm, as well as the Kansas State Department of Education. These annual audits serve different purposes, but both are sources of information to the public.
For many years at the district level, a significant attempt has been made to increase transparency for our Board of Education (BOE) meetings. The district sends a text-cast with the agenda for each Board of Education meeting several days in advance of the meeting. We also provide a link to the agendas to our web site. When information is available, documents are hyperlinked to the agenda to provide even more information. This allows interested individuals to have as much information as possible prior to the meeting.
Starting in 2016, I have been making a digital summary of the meetings for those who are interested, but may not be able to attend the meetings. This is a synopsis of the BOE meeting with reported actions. A link to this information is provided on our website. The summary that was done from the April 10, 2023, Board of Education Meeting, has been accessed one hundred-fourteen times.
With the in-person challenges presented by the pandemic, the board of education started video-broadcasting the USD 113 meetings. The initial reason for this was to provide constituents an opportunity to watch the meetings. Now we continue to provide this service even though this takes considerable time and effort. The opportunities for the public to be engaged in the operations of the district are many.
Organizations can always communicate more, and through this process increase transparency. Often, those critical of organizations indicate a lack of transparency as a concern. USD 113 continues to make efforts to provide as much transparency as possible. I hope that these efforts have increased communication and transparency. A comparison of efforts made by other organizations to provide information in the name of transparency is encouraged. I believe this research will reveal that USD 113’s efforts to provide transparency surpass that of many other organizations.