May 28, 2003


The Albany Democrat-Herald has an op-ed on the recent local school funding ballot measure's failure.

Actually, the schools manage their funds as best they can within the constraints imposed on them by state and federal law. But money mismanagement is clearly the perception among the largest single proportion of the participants in our poll.

School administrators and board members can learn from this reaction, based on fact or not. It tells them they must be vigorous in resisting any action or expense that is not obviously part of the core mission of schools.
The thing that needs to be learned here is the same lesson that most investors should hopefully have learned from the Enron debacle: transparency matters. Government budgets are big, thick, dry documents, and sometimes complex and confusing. How many times have we debated what the real number per student is, as only one example?

If governments expect to ask for more money, they need to clearly describe how the money they have now is managed. Just like a private company on Wall Street, school districts need to be able to provide a clear, concise, and understandable description of where every dollar goes.

Transparency: the truth will set you free.