Monday, May 14, 2012

St Paul School Board nixes public hearing? Who needs public input

This coming school year budget at St Paul Public Schools will be minus a public hearing where "all" the people can comment on how their public monies are being spent on.  Per report in the St Paul Pioneer Press , the new style or tactic is to limit input or discussion to specific groups.  To do it in a "controlled" fashion.

The cardinal purpose of a public hearing is to obtain public testimony or comment.  The St Paul School Board gives the impression after reading the story they do not want to "hear" citizens with their comments and ideas on a half a Billion $$$ budget plus.

Public hearings on budgets are very important.  For example, many times at the Legislature and on the local level I have made comments on the budget several weeks before the final decision on budget.

St Paul City Council usually has a public hearing on their budget about 5 weeks before their final decision.  One year I made comments on the funding and budget of the St Paul Library.  I shared with the policymakers the need to spend more $$$ on binding of books and the St Paul Collection. It gave an opportunity for the Council members to check into what I said.  Lo and behold extra money was found for binding.

The St Paul School Board and District plans to "stifle" the public from the traditional public hearing is just a continuing part of their character over the past several years to control information and deny the public access to accountability and transparency.  I did a previous post on a incident the School District did three months ago.  About two years ago, the School District did not want to give out "public" data on it's budget and came up with a balderdash reason why it is not public.  Many people who work in public access issues strongly disagreed with that decision and rationale.

The public budget hearing is a chance to communicate with the School Board and the District management in a clear, open and transparent way.  Not in a controlled and stifling fashion as it seems a majority of  St Paul School Board members want.

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