February 9, 2016

USD 231 may not respond to future inquiries

Danedri Thompson
USD 231 may not devote time to respond to future inquiries from The Gardner News.
That’s the word from Leann Northway, school communications director, in response to requests for comment about stories the newspaper is developing comparing the salary of USD 231 superintendent Bill Gilhaus with that of superintendents in other districts and about the school’s technology department.
The request for comments was granted, but future requests may not be.
In an email, Northway wrote, “The school district has accommodated every inquiry from the Gardner News staff; yet, with disappointment, has resulted in very little positive reflection on the school district.”
According to the school district, the newspaper has made 18 open records requests since last May, when a new policy that increased open records rates was instituted. The numbers do not include requests for comments from school officials about the school lunch program or comments about Gilhaus’ salary.
“We will, of course, comply with our responsibility as a school district to reply to valid requests under the Kansas Open Records Act subject to the school district’s right under the law to be compensated for the actual costs incurred by the district for furnishing copies and the cost of staff time required to make the information available,” Northway wrote.
In its most recent open records request, the newspaper paid $217 for 24 pages detailing the base salary of all USD 231 employees. The newspaper’s full request for salary information that included supplemental contract pay and longevity pay was not granted.
“I will be happy to accommodate your requests related to students and staff success stories at any time,” Northway wrote.
Today, the newspaper will be asking the district for preliminary enrollment numbers for the 2012-2013 school year. Official headcounts, used to determine state aid, are based on Sept. 20 attendance records.
The newspaper also is still awaiting a response to a request for a refund related to one request. The Gardner News paid $192 for a monthly expense report that was put on the USD 231 web site a few days after the request was made.



  1. jeffabarber says:

    So that’s how it works? only “requests related to students and staff success stories ” will be given? Is this how a transparent Government works?

  2. George A Rifford IV says:

    Jeff…apparently so. Sad, but true I guess.

  3. The email says Dr. Gihaus receives 72 days sick leave, and she doesn’t deny it. Why does he need that much sick leave. Is that what everyone gets? No wonder we’re broke.

  4. suburban dad says:

    Hey Gardner, at least you are getting a better bargin for your 5,243 students for your Super than they are in Spring Hill. They have the 6th HIGHEST PAID Superintendent in the State for the 39th largest school district. They like to inflate their numbers with the Insight School enrollment but even with those they are only the 31st largest district.

    While only a fraction of their size, USD 230 pays their Superintendent more than those of Lawrence, Topeka, Garden City, Dodge City, Salina and Manhattan. When the School Board is asked why that is, the people of Spring Hill are told “that is the going rate for a Superintendent in Johnson County.” Too bad Spring Hill does not have a newspaper covering, or should I say, uncovering some of the “transparent” activities in USD 230.

    All numbers referenced in this post were gathered for FREE at the Kansas State Department of Education’s web site at http://www.ksde.org/Default.aspx?tabid=1870.

  5. Gardnerwhos says:

    So the school district gets to pick and choose what information it makes accessible to the public via the local news paper? Does that mean if I, John Q. Public, make an open records request the school district can choose whether or not to fulfill my request. Is this even legal? Doesn’t the school district work for us? Isn’t it our right to know the facts?

    I’ve heard a lot of rumors…I wonder what Dr. Gillhaus and the rest of the half-wits have to hide?

  6. I would say somebody has their hand in the cookie jar.

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