A nonprofit group that performed a study of Oklahoma school district Web sites this summer said most of the sites don't meet basic criteria for transparency for taxpayers.

In a report released Monday, the group Oklahomans For Responsible Government said 79 of the state's 531 school districts — about 15 percent — don't have a Web site and no district fully met all 10 of the criteria developed by SunshineReview.org, a national transparency advocacy group.

Peter J. Rudy, a spokesman for the Oklahoma group, said it was "very concerning" that so many districts still didn't have Web sites.

"We're almost at 2010 and 15 percent of school districts have no presence in the Internet age," he said Tuesday. "There are students in high school who don't know a world without an Internet. They have Facebook and MySpace pages and Twitter accounts, but if they want to find out who their school board members are, they have to find another way to find that information."

The list of districts was provided by the state Department of Education. Rudy said that at least two members of the Oklahomans For Responsible Government staff looked at every district Web site during the study.

"The idea is to set this up as the guide," Rudy said. "This is the snapshot of where we are now. Districts can now use this and look at the criteria and say, 'How can we do better?'"

Each Web site was assessed on whether it had information available for the 10 criteria — budget, meetings, elected officials, administrative officials, public records, contracts, taxes, background checks, academics and audits.

The study found that 99 percent of districts either didn't have a Web site or didn't post the results of the district's annual audit. Ninety-seven percent of districts didn't have easily accessible budget information and 95 percent didn't offer comprehensive information about how taxpayers could obtain public documents.

Eighty percent of districts did have information about district administrative officials, although 16 percent of those had incomplete information.

Three Tulsa-area districts — Tulsa, Jenks and Union — met eight of the criteria. The Oklahoma group said other top district Web sites included Bartlesville, Broken Arrow, Deer Creek, Guthrie, Midwest City-Del City, Moore, Oklahoma City, Owasso, Putnam City, Sand Springs, Stillwater, Union and Vici.

Vici, in rural Dewey County, is by far the smallest school on that list, with 323 students enrolled from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Superintendent Steven Poretto credited one of the district's teachers, Gary Askew, with keeping the site up-to-date and said the site is a valuable tool. Poretto said he's proud the Vici site was recognized.

"Our technology here is up-to-date and we try to stay current with things, educational technology especially," Poretto said. "It's good for our school and good for our kids that we can do that. Parents have access to grades through the Web site. ... It takes some work, but it's worth it. It shows something about your school and the quality of education we try to provide our students."


On the Net:

Oklahomans For Responsible Government: http://ofrg.org/

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