More and more info on websites
The other day, I was visiting the website for the Erie school district, and I was pleasantly surprised. The district maintains an archive of its meeting minutes and agendas going back to 2007.
That's a long time, especially for a small school district such as Erie, which has about 700 students.
Bigger school districts have more employees, making them better-positioned to have the time to post to their websites.
Yet the archives for the Sterling and Dixon school districts aren't nearly as comprehensive as Erie's. Sterling, with 3,551 students, has minutes on its site going back to 2009 and Dixon, with 2,380 students, to 2011.
I also was happy to find that nearly all school districts in the area include minutes and agendas on their sites, including Amboy, Morrison, River Bend (Fulton) and AFC. The Prophetstown-Lyndon-Tampico district had a regular process of posting minutes, but it stopped in December.
Minutes can give a good idea about what public agencies are up to. Some minutes are better than others. Erie, for instance, details issues before the board, even when they're controversial.
I also like what Morrison provides on its website. The school district posts all of the backup documentation that it gives its board members for their meetings – that's a wealth of information. I haven't found another school district that does this.
One area where school districts fall behind is the posting of contact information for school board members. A few in the area give email addresses, but none provides personal phone numbers.
Other entities do, including the Lee and Whiteside county boards and the city councils for Sterling, Rock Falls and Morrison (though Dixon does not).
Many elected officials' numbers are in the local phone book, but some are not. If you're a public servant, shouldn't you be accessible to the people you serve?
Sauk Valley Media reporter David Giuliani covers the Whiteside and Lee county governments, Morrison and other smaller communities. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525.