McCracken County School Board maintains it doesn’t have to share consent agenda before vote

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY — We’re shining a light on the lack of public access to information, and decisions, involving your tax dollars.

A consent agenda is used in most McCracken County School Board meetings. It’s purpose is to allow the board to vote on a lot of items at once and speed up the meeting process. Some of the things in a consent agenda can include approval for contracts and money for projects.

On Thursday, the McCracken County School Board passed a consent agenda at its meeting. While some school districts do post their consent agendas beforehand with dollar amounts and descriptions of items before they are voted on, McCracken County Schools posts the consent agenda beforehand, but without dollar amounts or descriptions of what the agenda item is. They do post the specifics after the fact, but at that point, it’s already passed and the money has been approved.

We tried asking School Board Chairman Steve Shelby about the consent agenda after Thursday’s meeting, but he referred all questions to school board attorney Butch Bradley. Bradley maintains that a previous attorney general’s opinion says they have no obligation to release details about the consent agenda before a vote.

“An individual — and in other cases the media — is not entitled to preliminary recommendations, drafts, and memorandums. But once they are approved, if they are adopted, then you’re entitled to see them,” says Bradley.

One item in particular we had a question about on the consent agenda was a request to approve a contract, and funding to put trackers on every vehicle the school board owns, so they know where they are at all times. In total, the contract will cost the school district more than $20,000. Because of that, by law the board has to bid the contract out.

After our interview, Bradley called me back and told me he looked into the contract and it has not been bid out, but it was passed in the consent agenda on Thursday. Bradley says that in the board’s next meeting they will have to rescind that vote and properly bid it out.

Local 6’s Shamarria Morrison looked into several west Kentucky school board’s consent agenda practices to see how they compare with McCracken County’s. To see that story, click here.

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