Taxpayers Have A Right to Know

Something is badly wrong when a taxpayer asking a county board of education what a school employee does and how money is being spent is told, in effect, “Can’t talk about that.”

It happened last week during a Brooke County Board of Education meeting — though, in fairness, it has to be noted similar situations have occurred before other school boards.

A substantial number of people are upset about hefty pay raises granted to some Brooke County school administrators. That has prompted some to ask various questions about how schools are operated and how money is spent.

During a meeting last Monday, Paula Doll told board members she wants answers to several questions, and had been told the information she wants could be obtained at the schools’ central office. There, Doll was told she could not have what she is seeking.

Included on her list is information such as an itemized list of spending and revenue since July 1, 2017 and the number of school employees in a dental benefits program.

Such information is not — or should not — be secret. It invades no one’s privacy. Taxpayers who foot the bills are entitled to know how money is spent.

Later in the meeting, Doll talked about school employee Nicole Ennis, who is listed as a part-time assistant superintendent. Doll wanted to know what else Ennis does for the school system. She did not get an answer.

Board President Ted Pauls told those at the meeting he understands their frustration. “It is frustrating to us, too,” he said. But, Pauls added, “It is my understanding that if anything that would require us to take action were done here and someone complained they were not given a chance to defend themselves, it could negate the whole thing.”

But Doll and others are not asking for action — only information.

Doll has said she will file a request under the state Freedom of Information Act to get answers to her questions. It is ridiculous that she must expend the time and money needed to do that in order to obtain what the public has a right to know.

This sort of absurdity needs to end, and not just in Brooke County.

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