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SUNSHINE WEEK: Most Sioux Falls Metro Area Schools Quickly – and Happily – Comply with Request for Budget

(NPN) — School districts in the Sioux Falls metro area were almost unanimous in their quick responses and transparency in either sending or providing a link to their 2013-14 budgets.

Northern Plains News contacted the Sioux Falls, Harrisburg, Canton, Tea Area, Lennox, Brandon Valley, West Central, Tri-Valley, Dell Rapids, Parker and Garretson districts. All the districts except Garretson—which did not respond at all—replied positively within a day or less of the request.

Northern Plains News contacted the districts Monday morning as “Todd” or “Todd Epp” as a citizen might, not as a news organization.

In some cases, the districts’ responses were within minutes of the phone call to the school district with the requested information. In others, district staff was helpful in helping locate the document on the school district website while on the phone with the caller.

And most of the districts were not “snoopy” about why the caller wanted the information. Tea wanted to know why the caller wanted the information so as to make sure they were providing the proper materials. Tri-Valley pressed a bit as to why the caller wanted the material, figuring it was for the media, which Northern Plains News admitted.

In all cases except Garrison—where the response went to voice mail–receptionists, administrative staff or business managers were polite and helpful.

Here is a breakdown of the results:

Sioux Falls—Talked to a woman in business office who stayed on the phone and directed the caller to where the documents could be found on the district website.
Harrisburg—Left a voice mail with the business office and received an email with the budget attached early Monday afternoon.
Canton—Left a voice mail with the business office, received a call back in just over ten minutes then received an email with the budget in less than a half hour after the initial call.
Tea Area—Talked to a woman in the business office who sent the budget document within minutes.
Lennox—Left a voice mail with the business office. They emailed me a link to the budget on the district website in just over a half hour after the initial request.
Brandon Valley—Talked to a woman in the business office who stayed on the phone and directed the caller to where the documents could be found on the district website.
West Central—Talked to a woman in the business office who stayed on the phone and directed the caller to where the documents could be found on the district website.
Tri-Valley—Called and talked to man who said district was on spring break and they took down the caller’s information. Man from business office called back Tuesday morning and left message, caller called back. They emailed a copy of the budget within a few minutes after last conversation.
Dell Rapids—Called and left email with business office. Received an email with the budget attached about 45 minutes later.
Parker—Called and talked to business office. Received an email with budget attached less than ten minutes later.
Garretson—Left message with business office assistant. Have not received call back as of Wednesday noon.

The Sunshine Week project was a collaboration among NPN, Dakotafire Media and the Mitchell Daily Republic.

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