With fewer than 3,000 pupils, Wayland Union Schools are providing a level of spending transparency that many of the state's larger districts do not.
Wayland has joined a growing group of public schools posting their checkbook registers online, 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 public school, municipalities and legislators in Michigan to regularly provide this data on their Web sites.
The new business manager at Wayland, Bill Melching says that posting the checkbook register for taxpayers in the district to see was very important to him and the school board.
"Communication and transparency is important for our school leaders," said Melching. "Everyone supported [posting the register]."
So far, the school has had limited feedback from the community, but Melching believes that may change as people become more aware of the schools finances being posted. "Some may question an expense, but putting it out there is what's important," he said.
The current list of schools known to be posting online check registers at the Show Michigan the Money Web site links to the check registers of 79 conventional school districts, two charter public schools and three intermediate school districts. With many of the state's largest districts on the list, about one of every four public school students attends a public school in Michigan that makes its check register available on the Internet.
"With school coming back in session, we are hoping more districts start thinking more about opening up their books to taxpayers," said Braun. "Districts not planning to do this already are falling behind the fiscal accountability curve."
To see Wayland Union School checkbook register, please click here.
Links to all school district checkbook registers are available at www.showmichiganthemoney.org/9329.