Appropriations Committee Frowns on BESE Transparency Efforts
The House Appropriations Committee is questioning the number and necessity of contracts that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education maintains with private entities.
At a committee meeting Tuesday Chairman Jim Fannin told BESE President Chas Roemer that contracts should be reviewed more often, so that the board can ensure the funds are being spent wisely. BESE cut costs last year by reducing the number of meetings from ten to seven a year, which gave them less time to review contracts.
A board representative explained that, in an effort to keep the board’s workings transparent, members were not holding conference calls in place of the three lost meetings. When Representative Pat Smith then expressed doubt of the body’s transparency, Roemer explained he thinks the board is better able to do its job this way. “The impetus behind changing the number of meetings was the inefficacy of the meeting that we did have," Roemer said. "They had become a place to put items just to talk about, when in fact there was little relevance or impact of those items. By forcing ourselves to meet fewer times, we forced ourselves to pay attention to those items that were critical.” Representative J. Rogers Pope wondered if there’s much reason for the board at all, due to its close ties to the Department of Education, which will go before the Appropriations Committee Wednesday.