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posted: 4/29/2010 12:01 AM

Grayslake schools get lesson in openness thanks to activist

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A local activist handed 21 open records requests to Grayslake Elementary District 46 officials at a meeting Wednesday night as part of an effort to more easily access spending information.

District 46 resident Lennie Jarratt submitted the Freedom of Information Act document requests on behalf of 15 people. He and others have been pushing for a complete online check register.

Jarratt said he filed the FOIAs to make a point on how the formality wouldn't be necessary if spending information were readily available. District 46 Superintendent Ellen Correll accepted the FOIAs without comment.

"It's really just about transparency and getting more things online," Jarratt said.

Board members in February agreed to start posting on District 46's website the names of individuals and companies receiving payments and the amounts.

However, the payments shown on the website don't have explanations. Examples from March include "Marriott Theatre $1,000" and "Briar Street Theatre $11,925."

Government watchdog Joseph Calomino, director of the Americans for Prosperity Illinois chapter, told board members that District 46 must go beyond providing bare-bones spending information to the public.

Among the FOIA requests were one for details on the Briar Street Theatre expense in March from Amy Orr of Lakemoor and another seeking Correll's contract from Jane Oakley of Grayslake. Many of the requests sought a screenshot of how Correll's District 46 e-mail box appeared Wednesday.

Some District 46 residents sought assistance from Americans for Prosperity after the organization hosted an event about rising taxes in Grayslake in November. Calomino earlier this month sent a letter to District 46 seeking more information with the check journal entries.