Virginia schools: just average on transparency

Sunshine Review, a non-profit public interest group based in Alexandria, gives school districts in Virginia a mediocre “C” average for making public information easily available to parents and taxpayers.

Not one of the school districts in the commonwealth scored an “A” on the group’s “10 Point Transparency Checklist,” which includes providing online information on things like budgets, meetings, and academic performance. Seven scored a “B,” but 30 districts earned a “D” or “F”, so there’s obviously room for much improvement.

Here’s the transparency scores for Northern Virginia school districts, which generally follow the average statewide trend:

Alexandria: B
Falls Church: B-
Fairfax County: C
Loudoun County: C
Prince William County: C
Arlington County: D

Northern Virginians should not be satisfied with these grades.

There is simply no excuse for public school officials to withhold information from the people who pay their salaries and trust them to educate their children. This is not proprietary information. The public is entitled to know exactly how their tax dollars are being spent.

It’s also interesting to note the three top categories that school districts across the commonwealth consistently refuse to release complete information to the public include background checks, contracts and audits – all of which should be totally transparent – leading to the obvious question: Is that because there’s something to hide?

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