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House agrees with changes to school transparency plan

House agrees with changes to school transparency plan

Dustin Hurst
March 30, 2010
Dustin Hurst
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March 30, 2010

A bill proposed by Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, requiring school districts put their financial information on the Internet passed the Idaho House late Monday night after it underwent some altering in the Senate earlier in the day.

The legislation seeks to create greater transparency in school districts.  Under Hart's plan, schools, both public and charter, with more than 300 students would be required to post the information.  The data would be required to be posted in one of four formats – database, spreadsheet, searchable PDF, or non-searchable PDF – by Dec. 31, 2011.

The bill originally required that all data be presented in a searchable PDF, but that provision was removed during the amending process because Hart didn’t want the process to become overly complex or time-consuming for school officials.  In his talks with other government entities that already post their financial information online, Hart said he found that the process takes only about one hour per month.

The Senate made a few alterations to the bill while it was under consideration there.  Senators gave districts an extra year to post the data; the original House version required postings be made by the end of 2010. Senators also included the Idaho Digital Learning Academy, an online school, to the list of entities required to post transactions.

Opponents of the legislation claimed the process would be an extra burden for districts already struggling under duress of budget cuts.

The legislation is now headed to the desk of Gov. Butch Otter for consideration.

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