Scott Bordow must have really hit a nerve when he voiced his concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability in the state’s high-school governing body.
Bordow’s article in The Arizona Republic appeared last Friday. Before the weekend was over, the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) issued a statement rebutting his contentions.
The wheels must have really been spinning at the AIA offices because its published statement, which runs just shy of 1,000 words, appears to have been drafted by a public relations agency and then run past the organization’s legal counsel. All of that involvement resulted in a document that was not easy to digest, much less conducive to wade through.
We considered including the statement with this article, but decided it was too long and not likely to generate much reader interest. Instead, for those who have the time and inclination, we suggest going to AIA365.com, where Jose Garcia has included it in his weekend post.
Instead, we will try to outline the issues and extricate the important points from the AIA statement.
Bordow makes some good points that likely would be supported by the majority of the 272 members of the association and makes it clear upfront that he recognizes that governing bodies are always criticized for many of the decisions they make and often for the way their operate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there is any kind of corruption or malfeasance involved. He recognized the efforts of the AIA leadership by pointing out that, in his estimation, they “do the right thing, day in and day out.”
Broken down to its simplest form, his concern is that, as a non-profit organization, the AIA answers to no one, including the Department of Education. He points out that “the school districts and schools the AIA serves are powerless to initiate change at the highest level. They can change bylaws via the legislative council, but they have little say in how the AIA spends its money, or whether the right leadership is in place.
Bordow suggests the creation of an oversight committee, which could be charged with making the AIA more transparent when it comes to the finances of the organization. The AIA, he says, generated $9.39 million dollars in revenue in the last calendar year, with much of that coming from the $2,129 annual membership fee that is required of each school.
“Shouldn’t the schools have the right to see that information, given the membership fees they’re required to pay?” he asks.
The AIA statement:
After spending a good portion of the statement addressing the questions Bordow raised when the organization made a change last month to the way executive board members are selected, the AIA statement addressed the core concerns about transparency, leadership, and oversight…
It noted that, as a private 501c3 corporation, the AiA publishes an extensive-information tax return, as required by the IRS. And it defended itself against Bordow’s requests for better transparency regarding the contracts with outside vendors by pointing out the importance of building relationships with private companies, and that often involves confidentiality agreements due to the exchange of proprietary information.
The statement notes that the AIA’s annual budget, which is approved by the AIA Executive Board, is posted on the AIA website.
And, finally, the statement refers to those opportunities already established for members of the community to become more involved in the activities of the AIA. An Insight Panel, it explains, was established last year to provide a community-based panel that provides “counsel and insight as to how the AIA operates and can improve.” The panel includes a ‘Student Body’ function that gives students a voice as well.
Again, this provides just a quick overview of both sides of this issue. For those who want to really get down into the weeds on the issues, a visit to azcentral.com will generate a copy of Bordow’s article and the AIA365.com site will provide the AIA response.
This could become a real bone of contention going forward, depending on whether the transparency and accountability issues continue to fester – and whether Bordow is going to be satisfied with the AIA response.