The day after his inauguration, President Barack Obama said, "The way to make government responsible is to hold it accountable. And the way to make government accountable is to make it transparent, so that the American people can know exactly what decisions are being made, how they're being made, and whether their interests are being well served."

And by posting the checkbook registers for their school districts online, that's precisely what many Michigan public schools have decided to do.

Onsted Community Schools is the newest public district to open their books, said Ken Braun, director of the Mackinac Center's "Show Michigan the Money" project. Braun has been encouraging all 551 public school districts, every charter school, and each municipality in Michigan to regularly provide this data on their Web sites.

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"These are public funds," said Onsted Superintendent Mark Haag. "I see no reason to not be transparent about everything, especially these days when there are questions about schools and other public institutions and their funding."

With this addition, there are now 78 public school districts and two intermediate school districts statewide providing this information on the internet, including more than half of the largest 20 districts. Nearly one in four public school students now attend a district that has an online check register. Links to all school district checkbook registers are available at


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Jim Riley got his own fiscal house in order so he could retire. Now he wonders why his city government can’t do the same for their employees, and taxpayers who could end with huge bills from the unfunded retirement liabilities.

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