A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

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Sunshine Week 2010: Several Kent County Schools Now Posting Checkbooks Online

Algonac, Meridian and North Branch schools also make spending records available to public

(Note: The Ann Arbor Public Schools was also participating at the time of this release. The current known list of schools is located here: www.mackinac.org/9329.)

MIDLAND — Show Michigan the Money project Director Ken Braun said he is pleased that at least eight Kent County school districts began posting their check registers online in early 2010. In response to a news release issued earlier today, one Kent County school district notified Braun that the district had been posting check registers online. Repeated requests from Braun seeking participation from the region’s districts appeared to produce no posted check registers — and even some resistance — in 2009, but a breakthrough appears to have occurred this year in eight Kent County districts.

 “We’ve made this request of all 551 districts in the state, and after repeated efforts to obtain information from districts in the Grand Rapids area, we’d heard nothing,” said Braun. “We are delighted that several have finally taken this action and commend them for embracing transparency.”

Districts in the Grand Rapids region had been lagging substantially behind the rest of the state through the end of 2009. Aside from the west Michigan additions, three other districts contacted the Center to note that they are also providing an online monthly expense report. The new additions are as follows:

Caledonia Community Schools, East Grand Rapids Public Schools, Lowell Area Schools, Sparta Area Schools, Byron Center Public SchoolsForest Hills Public Schools, Wyoming Public Schools, Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, Algonac Community Schools, Meridian Public Schools and North Branch Area Schools.

“As public stewards, we should not shy away from providing transparency regarding public resources,” said Dan Behm, superintendent of Forest Hills Public Schools.

“We believe we should be totally transparent and provide an accurate view of the district’s financial situation,” added Doug Fillmore, superintendent of the Meridian Public Schools in Midland County.

The total number of districts known to be placing their check registers online is now at 76. “These districts all receive an ‘A’ for answering the call and providing spending transparency within the first two years of the project,” said Braun.

Any of Michigan’s 475 other districts that are participating, but have not notified the Center, are strongly encouraged to contact Braun at author@mackinac.org. The full list of districts known to be participating can be viewed at www.mackinac.org/9329.

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