MLS receives Highest Achievement in Open and Transparent Government Award

StaRS

Madison Local School District is proud to have received the Highest Achievement in Open and Transparent Government Award, indicating the highest rate of transparency from the Ohio Auditor of State. The auditor uses the Star Rating System (StaRS), which monitors transparency in governments. But what does this mean for Madison Local Schools? 

 

According to Ohio Auditor of State Keith Faber, StaRS was formed in 2019 and builds upon the success achieved with the public-records mediation program and further promote increased openness and transparency within governmental operations. The ratings were created to acknowledge the accomplishments of those that are meeting Ohio’s public-records and open-meeting laws, and also to recognize those public bodies that were exceeding legal standards by implementing a number of identified best practices. These suggestions are not required by Ohio’s Sunshine Laws, but are instead heavily encouraged. These practices include: 

 

  1. Method to Track Public Records Requests
    1. The public office employs a method to track public records requests, such as a log or similar tracking method. 
  2. Standard Request Forms

    1. By having these request forms available, the public has better understanding and access to any records they might be looking for. 

  3. Public Records Request Acknowledgement

    1. The public office must provide an acknowledgement to the requestor when a public records request is received, either by phone, email, or mail; recorded in the public records log; and done so in a reasonable time frame of receiving the request. 

  4. Public Records Custodian Identified and Trained

    1. To assist the public in making a request for records, the public office has publicized (website, public records poster, etc.) the name or office title of the records custodian and his/her contact information. 

    2. The office’s staff has also been trained on fulfilling the public records requests, including guidelines for negotiating large requests. 

  5. Prompt Certified Public Records Training

    1. Community school administrators are required to complete annual training on public records and open meeting laws within the first four months of employment. 

  6. Online Presence – Upcoming Events and Office Operations

    1. Examples include agendas of meetings in advance, public records policy, records retention policy, meeting schedule of the public office and any of its committees, and minutes of all meetings of the public office and any of its committees, all available and can be accessed by the public or media. 

  7. Online Presence – Official Documents

    1. Examples include the Annual Budget, Annual Report, Compensation for Public Officials, most recent Audit Report, contact information and hours of various departments, all available and can be accessed by the public or media. 

 

From these seven best identified practices, the StaRS Levels are determined as dictated below: 

 

 

Madison Local Schools has received four stars – the Highest Achievement in Open and Transparent Government Award. This is the second year in a row Madison has received the highest rating of transparency, from June 2020 and June 2021. 

 

“Only 14% of the public bodies received four stars in the first year,” says Madison Local Schools Treasurer Mike Vaccariello. “Madison was in that 14%.”

 

This is the second year the StaRS program has been in existence, and Madison Local Schools has received all four stars both years. Madison excelled in each of the seven practices except Number 2, Standard Request Forms

 

“There is very little room for improvement except for the online form,” adds Treasurer Vaccariello. “We are working on getting that onto the website. Even without the online form, we earned the highest rating. We will continue to strive for the highest StaRS rating.”

 





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