Sunshine week and the Baltimore County schools
Patch reporter Bryan Sears has written an interesting blog item on the difficulty in getting a simple piece of information - the salary of a high ranking administrator - out of the school system. You may recall a post I wrote some weeks ago about the school system's failure to give me the salary for Renee Foose, who was recently hired as the deputy superintendent. It seems Sears has had the same difficulty as he details in his blog. Sears quotes spokeswoman Phyllis Reese as saying: "It will be a cold day in hell" before he gets the salary figure unless he files a public information act request. When taxpayer dollars are spent on salaries, the public gets to know how much those salaries and benefits cost. Reporters don't like to file requests under the public information act, in general, because then the government body has 30 days to respond. It makes reporting a slow process.
But I went along and filed the formal request under the public information act and did get a response today, sent to me by snail mail, from the school system's attorney. She said that the contract with Foose had not been completed so the school system didn't have anything to give The Sun. It seemed to stretch credulity that Foose took a job without knowing what her salary would be, contract or no contract.
I complained in an email, and was told that the contract will be signed in the next day and I will get the salary information then. I will post the information here.
Sears is taking the high ground. I applaud him. He says he shouldn't have to file a request under the public information act. Read his blog to see his view. Sometimes for reporters, the principle of becomes more important than the actual information we seek. Sears writes his view on Sunshine Week, the week set aside by the American Society of Newspaper Editors to recognize the public's right to know.