The Iowa Senate has voted to impose the state’s open meetings and open records requirements on the Iowa Association of School Boards.
As a private, non-profit organization, the association does not currently have to abide by the openness rules city, county and state governments must follow. The Association of School Boards has come under scrutiny, though, after allegations of financial misdeeds were publicly aired. Senator Pat Ward, a Republican from West Des Moines, says she believes transparency and openness are important in any agency that uses taxpayer money.
“We’re talking about millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, both federal and state and then money from the local schools that comes to the School Board Association so I believe it’s just common sense that we have transparency rather than having meetings conducted behind closed doors,” Ward says.
Ward’s proposal was discussed in private by senators, then senators voted 49-0 to attach the open meetings and records requirements for the Association of School Boards to an education spending bill. That bill sets aside general operating budgets for community colleges, the state universities in Ames, Cedar Falls and Iowa City as well as the Iowa Department of Education. A decision on a general level of spending for K-through-12 public schools will be made later in another bill.