If school districts can levy taxes, then taxpayers should be able to see exactly how the money is being spent. And with the passage of House Bill 1606, it would seem the Missouri legislature agrees. If it’s signed by the governor, the new law will help bring transparency to school district spending, an aspect of government that is the focus of the Show-Me Checkbook Project. Public school districts will be required to develop a searchable database to track their expenditures and revenue, and that database will be made available to the public. The law also directs the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to create a template that a school may use if it does not have a website to host a database.
It is especially encouraging to see the legislature pass HB1606 at a time when audits show how schools can mismanage the money they receive.
I hope this legislation will serve as a template for the establishment of other databases to monitor how cities, counties, and special taxing districts spend the public’s money. Such databases are a 21st-century tool for the age-old task of keeping government accountable to taxpayers.