How Does Technology Enhance Public Transparency?
Public boards should always be aware of how engaged the community is during open meetings. Vibrant community engagement gives public boards needed, candid feedback, often shedding light on alternatives that the board might not have considered previously. Citizen stakeholders’ voices should be heard throughout the process of open meetings and decision-making as this prevents distrust and unwanted surprises. In looking to engage the district more while working within tight schedules and budgets, investing in the right board management software enables school boards to approach public transparency more holistically. Providing easy avenues to access information in the digital age is valuable for today’s citizens, not just giving them an effective method for obtaining the materials and resources they need, but also for communicating the board’s commitment to engaging with citizens.
Many people view today’s technologies as a barrier to human contact and real relationships – however, in the case of school boards, providing online access actually has the effect of helping citizens feel closer to and more involved in their community. When the public is kept informed and feels as though they are included and considered in the decisions that are made for the district, this fosters a healthy relationship between board members and citizens. Ultimately, boardroom technology can facilitate more open dialogue and make citizens feel more comfortable to attend meetings and speak to board members personally.
How School Boards Can Boost Public Transparency
While making the transition from paper-bound processes to digital can certainly be a bumpy road – for both school board members and citizens – ultimately everyone can reap the benefits. In recent years, school boards around the country have been taking actions to find new and exciting ways to use online tools for improved transparency. Initiatives such as leveraging online surveys and evaluations to increase citizen input, using online resources to make meetings and records easily accessible to everyone in the district, and even board members campaigning on the promise of greater transparency through technology are all great examples of ways that districts can improve public transparency. Sticking to a set of best practices ensures that school board members are hitting all the key areas involved in boosting public transparency and are working diligently to fulfill them as effectively as possible.
How Board Governance Relates to Public Transparency
Public trust is a fragile thing to play with, which is why many school boards struggle to maintain a strong sense of civic trust and engagement. In order to ensure greater public transparency and build trust among a district, school boards must follow good board governance practices. This entails following open meeting laws to a tee, adopting digital tools that allow for greater accessibility and open communication between administrators and citizens, and preparing appropriately for cyber risk by conducting cyber trainings and establishing a cyber risk framework. Good board governance goes hand in hand with public transparency as it guarantees that school board members will fulfill their responsibilities effectively, thus facilitating and welcoming openness with regard to board business and decisions that impact the district.