Frustrated by wasteful spending in your school district?
By DAWN BORMANN and BRAD COOPER
The Kansas City Star
A Kansas efficiency task force is looking for whistle-blowers.
Kansans who interact with the states K-12 educational system and have examples of inefficiencies that they have witnessed or experienced now can go online to share their firsthand experiences with the Governors school efficiency task force, according to a release sent by the Gov. Sam Brownbacks office late Wednesday.
The anonymous system was set up Wednesday as a way to generate ideas from those inside or outside the system who might feel awkward for snitching on their boss or their childs teacher. Brownback also added a school superintendent to the task force.
Task force Chairman Ken Willard acknowledged that the widespread approach is different. But, he said, education affects everybody.
Everybody has an opinion about it. And some of those opinions are not as informed as others, but people need to be heard, he said. I think its a healthy exercise.
He understands why school officials might feel some trepidation.
But I think its good to hear from as many people as possible. I think its good to be as transparent as possible, he said.
The concept isnt exactly unprecedented, said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat. Legislative auditors often use anonymous surveys with employees when they examine state agencies.
Youre not going to get the real whistle-blower unless they have a guarantee of anonymity, he said.
The process will work, he said, as long as the task force verifies the accusations and gives districts an opportunity to respond.
Mark Tallman, lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards, agreed.
Theres nothing wrong with trying to collect information. Its just important to make sure allegations are checked out, he said.
The task force met earlier this month to discuss ways to stretch state dollars further. The Kansas Policy Institute presented a report detailing how in some cases, multiple school districts serve fewer than 4,000 students in one county. Each district has a separate busing, payroll, computer and cafeteria services.
On Wednesday, Brownback also announced the inclusion of a new member, Iola schools Superintendent Brian Pekarek.
The 10-member group had faced sharp criticism from Kansas Democrats who argued no teachers or administrators were included on the panel.
Willard said the group includes several members with school budgeting experience and will hear from a broad spectrum of educators.
Tallman said his organization has formed its own efficiency task force. The group plans to present its findings to the governors task force in November.
School districts have as much interest as the legislature to be good stewards of public dollars, Tallman said.
The governors task force is set to meet again Nov. 9 in Topeka.
To reach Dawn Bormann, call 816-234-7704 or send email to email@example.com.