Ypsilanti school board approves plan that will eliminate 40 teaching positions over 4 years
Before a crowd of more than 200 teachers, support staff, administrators and parents, the Ypsilanti school board voted tonight to adopt a deficit elimination plan that will cut more than 40 teachers over the next four years.
That plan will be sent to the state Tuesday, just meeting the deadline for filing it. The district's new chief financial officer said the deficit was the culmination of years of overspending to the tune of $9.2 million since 2005.
“For the last five years, we have lost millions of dollars,” David Houle told the board. “We have spent more money than we brought in.”
The shortfall was slightly offset by a $2.5 million sale of a building, leaving the district $6.8 million in the red on a $53.2 million budget for this school year.
The plan, which is mandated by the state, calls for the district to gradually shed positions and make other changes over the course of the next four years. Board members passed it 5-2, with Andy Fanta and Kira Berman voting no.
If the plan is followed and its projections of student enrollment and state funding are accurate, the district will be out of the red in 2014, Houle said.
The district's overspending was:
- $780,000 in 2005.
- $1.5 million in 2006.
- $1.5 million in 2007.
- $2.6 million in 2008.
- $2.8 million in 2009.
The district, without making any changes, is on track to be short $3.3 million in 2010.
To make up the shortfalls, the plan calls for the district to eliminate 42 teaching positions, 19 support positions and 1 community service position.
That didn’t sit well with the majority of people in attendance, who complained about the cuts and about the process.
“I’m amazed that (Superintendent Dedrick Martin) said we were involved in this plan,” said teachers union President Kelly Powers. “That’s a blatant lie.”
She went on to lambaste the board for its weak oversight of the budget and wondered why board members weren't cutting administration.
“Does your plan include cutting the administration that has helped create (this problem)? Of course not," she said. "You hire a superintendent at top dollar, you send a message. This is an absolute punch on the nose to your ground-level employees.”
She said the teachers union is willing to negotiate, but not until a better process for coming up with cuts is devised.
They also said the state gave them little choice but to adopt the plan, then go back and work on changing it over time. If the board didn’t have the plan in by Tuesday, it could face sanctions up to the loss of its state aid.
“We’re faced with a task we don’t want to do,” said Trustee Floyd Brumfield. “Something has to be done, and we’re going to have to do it. Like it or not.”
Fanta argued the district should ask for an extension from the state.
“I think it’s time to play hardball. What concerns me most about the plan is the process that went into (it)," he said. "We say we’re a community, but when the crunch comes, we’re presented with a fait accompli. Once you adopt a plan, it’s a plan. I’m not sure we’re going to (go back and be creative and work on the plan).”
Several other districts across the area are also facing tight budgets. Willow Run has also been operating under a deficit elimination plan for several years.