Initiative #124 would give school boards and unions a lesson in transparency
By next Monday, all signatures for potential ballot initiatives are due at the Colorado Secretary of State's office. At least 86,105 legitimate signatures are needed to put a citizens initative before the voters on November 4, and several efforts are still collecting signatures. One of those is Initiative 124, which would open school-board meetings to a wider audience.
What you could see on the ballot:
Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes requiring any meeting of a board of education, or any meeting between any representative of a school district and any representative of employees, at which a collective bargaining agreement is discussed to be open to the public?
if Initiative 124 passes, any board of education meeting at which collective bargaining is discussed by members of a board of education, school administration personnel or a combination of both, speaking with a representative of employees, would be open to the public. Currently, meetings between school board representatives and union representatives are allowed to be closed -- and neither unions nor school boards are big fans of the proposal.
But Jon Caldara is. Initiative 124 was created as a way to have more transparency in the education system, shining light on a critical activity of school boards. After all, contracts account for about 80 percent of a school-board budget, according to Caldara, the Independence Institute head who's a proponent of the proposal. "We expect good government in the sunshine," he says.
Critics of the proposal argue that school boards should be able to handle negotiations by themselves. But Caldara points out that a growing number of states have made these processes public, and somehow survived.
Information about all ballot initiatives -- both those still collecting signatures, and the two that have already made the ballot -- can be found on the Colorado Secretary of State website.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Westword's biggest stories.