The Open Government Project is available for the community and school district employees to view at the district’s website, www.cherokee.k12.ga.us.
The project includes numerous open records related to the school district’s budget, including all of the 2012-13 school year budget developments presented at the May 17 work session, last year’s budget information, budget archives, monthly financial reports, a financial fact sheet, documents relating to the Education SPLOST and independent financial audits.
Board of Education Chairman Mike Chapman said the site will provide another avenue for staff and community members to look at all of the facts.
“Transparency is good,” Chapman said. “All of that information is and has been out there if people were to attend (Board of Education) meetings and work sessions but that’s not practical for everyone.”
Chapman said it allows those who are interested to view the documents from their homes at their leisure.
“It’s just easier for folks to get at it and see it and that’s always a good thing,” Chapman said.
Board Vice Chairwoman Janet Read said that, as stewards of local taxpayer dollars, she is glad taxpayers will be able to see where all of the money goes.
“There have a been a lot of requests,” Read said of the budget information. “I just think in this day and age, the more transparent you can be the better it is for more stakeholders involved.”
Read said she hopes the district can be a leader for other organizations becoming more financially transparent.
“The district has shown tremendous leadership as a government entity to do this,” Read said.
All of the documents are open records and formatted as PDF documents accessible from the website, which also features a link to download a free copy of Adobe Reader software to access the documents.
Additionally, the site provides a link to send comments and questions by email to the Office of Public Information.
Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo said the project is a result of the district’s commitment to transparency of its operations and its budget.
“Accordingly, the goal of the project is to provide employees and the broader community with clear understanding of the school district’s mission — teaching and learning — and its stewardship of fiscal resources,” Petruzielo said in a news release Monday.
The initial focus of the district’s project is the budget and financial issues, because the CCSD is in the midst of its 2012-13 budget development process. However, the amount and type of records will be periodically expanded and updated, the superintendent said.
“We next plan to add links to documents already stored elsewhere on the school district website, such as minutes of school board meetings, our annual report and school board policies, to create a ‘one-stop’ information warehouse for site visitors,” Petruzielo said.
Presentations based on the superintendent’s tentative budget preparation were conducted at schools across the district during post-planning and employees were invited to share questions and comments, Petruzielo said.
The most common responses were compiled into a Frequently Asked Questions document available on the project page.
“We hope the community uses this new opportunity to learn more about the school district and become more actively involved in supporting our students and educators,” Petruzielo said in the release.