Monday November 19, 2007

Public records fee

Miami-Dade School Board members have to pay a public records fee — just like anyone else — when they request information about the school district they’re trying to run. Which would be crazy enough even if the fee sometimes didn’t run into the hundreds of dollars.

School District Chief Communications Officer John Schuster: “It’s a process. In some cases, the records are in storage, and we need to get them from a warehouse. In other cases, we need computer programmers. It can be costly and time-intensive.”

Two things: First, get your information storage in order. You know those commercials Xerox runs on TV, where you can scan all your documents (like, thousands of pages per hour) and make then text-searchable and instantly accessible from any computer? They’re talking to you, Schuster. Call ‘em up. Get a quote to ship everything to Bangalore and have it scanned there on the cheap if you have to.

And second (this one’s at a higher pay scale), STOP CHARGING THE SCHOOL BOARD FOR INFORMATION THEY NEED. Jesus Christ on a stick — are you really trying to cultivate the dumbest, least active board possible? I mean, if you’re afraid their requests will become an unreasonable burden, you can give them a budget for this and charge out of that. But you’re better off implementing the system I just described. This is the fourth largest school district in the country, and we at least deserve a shot at having it run decently. The school board can be a bunch of knuckleheads, but let’s not actually try to actively prevent them from making good decision, bokay?

(Also noteworthy from the article: this website, the school board’s “clearinghouse” for public records and information. Seems to be not much more then a collection of links to other spots on dadeschools.net, which itself deserves a bit of my anti-Flash fury, but there you go.)

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