News Release: Almost Half of Michigan's Largest School Districts Embrace Spending Transparency

State legislator first to disclose personal salary, benefits details

For Immediate Release
Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009
Contact: Ken Braun
Policy Analyst

MIDLAND - Almost half of the 25 largest public school districts in Michigan now post their checkbook registers online, according to Ken Braun, director of the Mackinac Center's "Show Michigan the Money" project.

"With the posting of its checkbook register by Bay City Public Schools, another one of Michigan's largest districts has made public its finances," Braun said.

Other recent districts to embrace transparency include Clio, Swan Valley and Pinconning. Braun has been encouraging all 551 public school districts, every charter public school, each municipality and every state legislator in Michigan to regularly provide this data on their Web sites.

Though many districts began posting after being prompted by Braun, the Livingston ESA has been posting its register for several years.

"Since 2007, I have made sure our board financial reports and our check registers were posted on our Web site," said Assistant Superintendent Michael Hubert. "Although I don't think many people access what we have posted, I am glad that when people do need the information, it is available." Hubert added that the district is looking to make even more information available.

Officials from another one of the state's largest school districts, Lansing, have stated that they are working on posting their register. All told, there are 64 public school districts and three intermediate school districts providing this information on the Internet. More than one in five public school students attend a district that has an online check register. Links to these school district checkbook registers are available at

In other transparency news, a state legislator has taken his commitment to openness a step further.

During the recent crafting of the state budget, Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, helped to insert a provision into the K-12 School Aid Fund that will require public school districts to disclose more financial details on their official Web pages, such as the price they pay for health care and other benefits. As an extension of this, McMillin is voluntarily using his official state Web page to post the cost and details of the benefit package he receives. Earlier this year, McMillin became the first state-level politician in Michigan to post the names and salaries of his office staff on the Internet.

"Greater public access to public records is now advancing so quickly that we can't report the progress fast enough," said Braun. "Unfortunately, for every Livingston ESA that does the job before they're asked, there are other districts that are falling behind this fast-growing transparency trend."

Though 12 of the 25 largest districts provide online check registers (and one is in the process), Braun listed those that do not yet appear to be doing so: Detroit Public Schools, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Ann Arbor Public Schools, Flint City School District, Warren Consolidated Schools, Wayne-Westland Community Schools, L'Anse Creuse Public Schools, Kalamazoo Public Schools, Port Huron Area School District, Huron Valley Schools, Forest Hills Public Schools and Saginaw Public Schools.