Menlo Park City School District Rebuts Rumors With OpenGov
POPULATION: 2,941 Students | AGENCY TYPE: School District | ANNUAL BUDGET: $45.4 million
Menlo Park City School District used OpenGov to visualize rising costs per student and successfully make the case for additional funding.
Sheikholeslami believes the Menlo Park City School District missed some key trends. First, as citizens increasingly expect the ability to find things on their own, there was no way for citizens to gain a contextual narrative around the data unless they attended a board meeting. Second, the district was not prepared to counter the spread of misinformation on social media and online blogs.
In short, the district had not accounted for how the world changed since the previous parcel measure passed in 2010. Although both measures earned a majority of voters, online misinformation empowered a vocal minority of residents to oppose the tax, preventing the district from obtaining the two-thirds approval necessary for passage.
The School District Re-Engages Citizens with OpenGov
“After citizens rejected the parcel tax, we began rethinking how we engage with our residents,” Sheikholeslami said. “It was clear the status quo wouldn’t work if we wanted to maintain support for revenue streams critical to serving students.
The district turned to OpenGov to give residents a place for accurate information. Sheikholeslami and his team uploaded multiple years of financial data into the OpenGov platform, along with annotations and the district’s critical narrative context. This provided citizens with on-demand access to interactive information that they could explore and drill down into on their own. The accompanying narrative supported their ability to form their own conclusions.