The Bluegrass Institute has pointed to serious problems with the transparency of information about public school superintendents for several years now with our Rewarding Failure expose.
Our efforts are now being vindicated.
In a press conference today, Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen and Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday called for greatly increased public access to information about local school superintendents. The auditor and commissioner want every superintendent’s employment contract, total benefits package and annual evaluations to be readily available in a one-stop source at the Kentucky Department of Education’s web site.
Holliday and Edelen also called for better training of local school board members regarding their duties to effectively oversee operations of their superintendent and schools. In the news release for the press conference, Holliday said:
“We’re seeing far too many cases where adults are making choices that are right for them rather than what’s really right for students and their future.”
The immediate impetus for these new public transparency improvements is a recent series of what the auditor has sometimes called “scandalous” audits. These audits found superintendents in several school districts were taking the taxpayer for a ride.
In the worst case uncovered so far, which involves the Dayton Independent School District’s former superintendent, Edelen’s findings are so bad that the case has been referred to the FBI. Edelen actually used the term “fraud” during his absolutely shocking Dayton Schools audit press conference.
As veterans of many open records requests for superintendent evaluations, the Bluegrass Institute is only too familiar with the difficulty the public has encountered in trying to obtain this critical information. We are also well aware of the vacuous and unrevealing reporting that has far too often been the hallmark of those annual superintendent evaluations.
Holliday also said:
“I have always been an advocate for openness and transparency. I welcome the auditor’s recommendations and hope this will result in a greater level of fiscal oversight and responsibility in our school districts. It is the duty of us all to be accountable and good stewards of the taxpayer’s money.”
As Edelen said at the Dayton audit press conference:
“The kids don’t exist to support the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy exists to support them.”
To all of this, we can only say, “Amen!”