TPS Attains New Level of Transparency Through BoardDocs
Glass City Jungle, Toledo Ohio's Political Blog
January 27, 2010
By Lisa Renee
The Toledo Public School Board recently took a step towards a more transparent process when they were the first school system in our area and in the nation to utilize a program called “BoardDocs” — simply put it makes it easier to access information such as their agendas, legislation and minutes from committees. While the option to listen to audio of the meeting is not one that appears to be offered, you can find an amazing amount of information from one place by taking advantage of what is being shared. All you have to do is click here to begin. Then of course select “enter public site” — once you are there? You’ll see the most recent School Board meeting and will be able to go through each agenda item and read committee minutes or any legislation that was offered.
As an example, Lagrange Development Corporation is getting a break on taxes for one of it’s properties from TPS for 12 years. You can read the legislation that in part says:
- BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Education of the Toledo City School District, Lucas County, Ohio, that: Section 1. This Board agrees to forego any revenue or payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTS) from Lagrange Development Corporation as a result of the 100% tax exemption on any and all properties as part of the Project described herein.
You can then head over to Lucas County’s Areis Online and find out that the current yearly amount listed for Toledo Public Schools for that property is $2,594.24. This gives you an idea of how much is being “forgoed,” right from your own computer.
You can also read minutes, such as the recent Policy Committee where the recent audit was referenced as well as concerns expressed referencing a recent bomb scare at Woodward:
- Also under new business, Mr. Sykes had concerns regarding the recent Woodward bomb threat and lockdown. The students were told not to use their cell phones because it may set off the bomb. How does TPS handle these situations and what training is involved? The news media caused a massive problem. How can we present awareness to the public by some kind of announcement to tell parents where to go to get the information in the situation of a lockdown or evacuation? Mr. Foley stated that the staff handled the situation professionally but in the heat of the moment there is no perfect way. There is a procedure. Prior to emergency, we have setup a protocol and put it in the handbook.
It’s not the same as attending or watching the video when it’s put up online through KnowledgeStream, but the actual system so far seems to be fairly user friendly. I still prefer the ability to access audio the way Toledo City Council does, but this BoardDocs system is far superior when it comes to sharing documentation compared to having to download each document through an FTP server. Another plus is the ability to archive information, so if a question comes up at a later time, the documentation can still be easily located without having to make a public information request.
Score one for a huge step forward in making information accessible by TPS.