Clean Up on Aisle 3
Seventy-two percent of all taxes collected in Jefferson County last year went to Jefferson County Schools. You should not have to be an accountant to understand how your money is being spent. You should not be in position to play catch us if you can in trying to follow the maze of Board agenda items related to spending. Specific information is not provided on the front end or on the backend, after the Board has acted. In some instances, they say you can view what they have done only if you come to the Board Office to get a copy. In other instances, they bury the information on the Jefferson County Schools website.
And yet, there doesn’t seem to be a problem with sharing photos of Board members recognizing students, signing up business partners, or even standing in an empty field taking a victory lap for a land deal that is a decade overdue. This is a public relations plan, not a plan to use 21st century best practices to engage the community in meaningful conversations about Jefferson County Schools.
A recent Board agenda item (Action on approval of Budget Supplements and Transfers) came with the notation, “Documentation concerning these items has been provided to all board members and the public in advance to assure an extensive and thorough review.” Good luck finding anything provided to the public in advance. It does not exist on the JCS website. I did not see any mention of it in the local newspapers, nor did I stumble upon it on Aisle 3 at the Food Lion in Shepherdstown.
Stop me if you have heard this one before. As a candidate for the Jefferson County Board of Education, I promise transparency. Yeah, right, you might say. Here is how I would do it. If the public has not been provided the information in advance “to assure an extensive and thorough review,” I would vote against Board consideration at that time and state for the record why. I would hope that the other Board members would remember their vow of transparency and would do the same. If not, their contact information is public and you should reach out to them to encourage them to keep their promise of transparency.