State law calls for school contracts online

2012-09-16T00:00:00Z 2012-09-19T17:58:03Z State law calls for school contracts onlineBy Carmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

Most local school corporations are in compliance with a state law that went into effect July 1 requiring the contracts of all certified administrators be on the school website.

This is part of the state's transparency law, House Enrolled Act 1205. It means the contracts, including all supplemental agreements for the superintendent, assistant superintendent, principals, assistant principals and directors, must be online and accessible to the public. The law also requires the teachers' collective bargaining agreement be posted online.

This is the same law that requires a school board to hold a public meeting pertaining to a proposed superintendent employment contract at least seven days before that contract is executed, though the board is not required to disclose the identity of the candidate at the meeting.

An informal survey late Friday of the 23 public school corporations in Lake and Porter counties showed 16 districts have the administrative agreements online. The remaining seven are at various stages, with some having nothing online and others having posted the superintendent's contract only.

"Quite frankly, I think it's a bit of a nuisance," said Walter Bourke, executive director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents.

Bourke said it's just another requirement for school corporations.

"It's a public record and any member of the public who wishes to see the contracts should be able to see them," Bourke said. "Whether they are published online or requested under the Freedom of Information Act, people do have the right to see them."

River Forest Superintendent James Rice said his corporation is an "open book." He said it followed the law and put the contracts online.

"The state wants us to be transparent; this is nothing new for us," he said.

Union Township Superintendent John Hunter said the administrative contracts were posted in June, before the law took effect.

Merrillville Superintendent Tony Lux said they "overlooked it," but will get it posted as soon as possible. Duneland Superintendent Dirk Baer said it will be online by the end of the month. East Porter County School Corp. Superintendent Rod Gardin posted the information online Thursday.*

It's not on the School City of Hammond website, but new director of Technology Ken Benich said he is checking into the law and will explore what has to be done to meet the requirements. Gary school officials also are checking into the law.

Leaders in the Crown Point Community School Corp. did not return calls.

Portage Township Schools posted the contract and supplements for superintendent E. Ric Frataccia but no other contracts can be found. No contracts have been posted on the website for the Valparaiso Community Schools. 

While individual teacher contracts are not required to be posted online, George Letz, superintendent at MSD Boone Township, said "anyone who wants to see the teacher contracts can come in and see the one they want to review."

* Editor's note: This story has been updated from a previous version.

ADMINISTRATIVE CONTRACTS ONLINE: A story Sunday about a state law requiring certified school administrators contracts to be posted online contained incorrect information about the East Porter County School Corp. The district's administrative contracts are posted online. The Times regrets the error.

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