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Posted on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Mid-year teacher layoffs, pay-less paydays still possible for Ypsilanti schools

By Danielle Arndt


Budget and cash-flow problems continue to challenge Ypsilanti Public Schools, despite the voter-approved merger with Willow Run slated for July. file photo

Editor's note: The amount of money Ypsilanti is expected to save by cutting 4.5 teachers and the district’s website revenue has been corrected in this story.

It’s January 2012 all over again at Ypsilanti Public Schools, with the added uncertainty of pay-less paydays for staff and the threat of not having a job next school year.

Ypsilanti is expected to pink slip the equivalent of 4.5 teachers in the coming weeks to help eliminate an approximately $2.02 million structural deficit.

The 4.5 teachers, pending board approval, will be laid off from the secondary schools — those affected will be some combination of staff from New Tech, the high school and middle school, Superintendent Dedrick Martin said Monday.

Despite consolidating with Willow Run Community Schools in July, Ypsilanti still is responsible for its own finances through June, the end of the current fiscal year.

Ypsilanti laid off 4.5 high school teachers a year ago, when its enrollment declined from about 3,782 in fall 2010 to 3,664 in fall 2011, a loss of 118 students.

District officials said Ypsilanti ended the 2011-12 academic year with 3,588 students. It currently has 3,365 students enrolled. The decline of 223 students is equal to nearly $1.7 million in per-pupil funding from the state.

The district budgeted for a loss of just 50 students. More than 50 percent of the 223 students Ypsilanti lost were high schoolers, officials said.

They attributed a majority of the loss to the two new charter schools that opened in the Ypsilanti community in fall 2012, WSC Academy and South Pointe Scholars.

Financial officer Cathy Secor presented Ypsilanti’s budget situation to the newly appointed Board of Education in December. At Monday’s meeting, Martin discussed how district officials will propose addressing the shortfall — with the state’s deadline for submitting Ypsilanti’s ongoing Deficit Elimination Plan (DEP) looming.

All public school districts and charter schools operating with a deficit fund balance must submit an annual plan to the Michigan Department of Education detailing how they intend to get their finances back in shape.

Willow Run Community Schools, with which Ypsilanti will merge in July, also must submit a DEP to the state by the state’s Jan. 25 deadline. Willow Run, however, does not have a current-year deficit, said Superintendent Laura Lisiscki.

Despite Ypsilanti and Willow Run’s plans to consolidate, the state is still requiring the two districts to submit separate DEPs. Martin explained the DEPs really are moot, considering the plans will be for districts that no longer will exist.

Willow Run also lost students from last year to Fall Count Day 2012, approximately 181 students, totaling about $1.3 million in lost revenue.

Willow Run will not need to make any budget amendments at this time, Lisiscki said. The district made its staffing adjustments before Count Day.

“We saw early signs of (enrollment) being down further than we thought. So we had a number of retirements from the spring that we didn’t fill until fall when we were sure we could,” Lisiscki said.

Ypsilanti wasn’t so lucky.

In the fall, Ypsilanti was forced to hire back some staff members it had laid off in May in order to meet special education requirements through the state, Secor said. The district initially cut about 45 special education positions for the 2012-13 academic year.

Thumbnail image for Dedrick_Martin2011.jpg

Dedrick Martin, superintendent of Ypsilanti Public Schools.

Reducing its staff by 4.5 teachers at the secondary level is expected to save YPS $194,000, Martin said.

The 4.5 teachers would be in addition to the reduction of one administrator at the high school that already has taken place. Ypsilanti High School Principal Rob Belous resigned, effective Dec. 24, 2012, after more than two months on administrative leave.

Martin said the decision was made not to fill Belous’ position but to finish the school year with Ypsilanti New Tech Principal Cory McElmeel sharing his time between both buildings and YHS Assistant Principal Aaron Rose helping to carry out the head principal duties.

Martin said the district also had some additional money come in that it had not budgeted for, including about $3,000 in advertising revenue from ads running on the top of YPS’ website. It also sold its latest student-built home from the Regional Career Technical Center’s building program for $163,500. In all, the reduction of 4.5 teachers and the additional revenue is expected to total about $450,000.

Ypsilanti also is in the process of moving the high school’s graduation ceremony from the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center to Pease Auditorium at EMU for a savings.

Because Ypsilanti’s high school student population has declined in recent years, its graduating classes have gotten smaller, Martin said.

“This year’s class is not going to be that much different — 20 to 30 students less maybe. But we’ve been small enough the past 5 years, quite honestly, where we probably could have done it (moved the commencement ceremony),” Martin said. “But historically, we’ve always done it there (at the convocation center). People like it. … We’re just to the point where we’re counting every penny.”

Martin said there are some other possible budget reductions the district may have to explore to get closer to the $2.02 million shortfall figure. He said district officials and the joint Board of Education intend to further discuss both Ypsilanti and Willow Run’s budgets, finances and deficit elimination plans during a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Ypsilanti High School.

Martin said because there are many budget uncertainties and requirement uncertainties as a result of the consolidation, district officials believe it’s best to move a little more slowly and methodically with this round of mid-year budget cuts than they might have in the past.

“We’re still waiting on a lot of information from the state, advice from lawyers and the like,” he said.

In July 2012, Ypsilanti officials sounded the alarm on a cash-flow problem that could prevent staff from receiving paychecks at various points throughout the school year. The district made it through the low points in September and December when it also was projected to have insufficient funds in its bank account to pay employees on time.

However, Martin said January and February, the other two months targeted for cash-flow issues, are still up in the air.

“We’re taking it week by week,” he said. “It’s still a concern. I think we’ll be able to do enough to make it through this school year, but it’s still a concern.”

Students come and go in the middle of the year, taking their per-pupil foundation allowances with them, and “you can’t predict the weather,” Martin said, explaining some of the district’s cash-at-hand depends on a lack of snow plow services and other winter-related maintenance expenses.

Thursday’s Board of Education meeting is open to the public. Download an agenda here.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Danielle Arndt

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

I recently became aware that the budget deficit figure stated in this story may have changed. Additionally, the initial sale of the RCTC student-built home fell through and there currently is a second offer on the table. I have been in conversations with Superintendent Dedrick Martin about doing a another story on the district's structural deficit and efforts to close it. I will link this story to the new story as soon as possible.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

A serious analysis of the operations of YPSD would reveal a very top heavy organization. Across the state it is highly unusual for a district the size of YPSD to have a Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Executive Director of Human Resources, Exective Director of Operations, and so on. YPSD is full of unnecessary positions at the top each with salaries in excess of 100K. None of which have a successful career past, instead they have brought their pattern of failures to us. Looking for ways to cut: The assistant superintendents office with no less than seven full and part-time employees, might be a place to start. The office of educational quality: When we are one of the lowest perfroming districts in the state, if they are holding the teaching staff accountable for results, why isn't the superintendent holding that office accountable? Accountabilty from the top down, is true leadership. Can't balance the budget then who is to blame. Smokescreens and shiny objects can't hide the failure of the administration forever. Leave our classrooms alone and protect our children.

Now Found

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

Don't forget that five or six "administrative assistants" (secretaries) are earning well over $50,000 per year, and nearly all of them lack college degrees. They make more than most of the teachers and have been earning more than teaching staff ever since the Dr. Hunt hiring fiasco. Tax-payers take note.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 5:02 p.m.

They just remodeled the "White House" where the central administrators reside. How can you cut staff when you just put all that money into their offices. Yes, tongue is firmly in cheek . . .


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 4:09 a.m.

Ypsilanti still has a Superintendent and an Assistant Superintendent. According to the most recent article on the consolidation, the district has a total of 3,144 students. Why aren't they laying off someone in Administration rather than 4.5 teachers. I'm sure their salaries are higher than the teacher's!

Now Found

Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 11:13 a.m.

The more important question is: Where is all the public input for the YPSD and its state of affairs and past, current, and future direction? There are 21 comments regarding the Belleville teacher and her topless photos and five-year probation, and that story just came out yesterday.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

"But historically, we've always done it there (at the convocation center)...." The Convocation Center was built in 1998, so prior to that, the graduation ceremony must have been held elsewhere.


Wed, Jan 9, 2013 : 5 p.m.

YpsiLivin - Yes they were - in the YHS gym.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

>including about $400,000 in advertising revenue from ads running on the top of YPS' website That can't be right. Those ads can't be making them more than a couple hundred a month.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

My kids were graduated in the late '70's when the classes were about 500. The Ypsi High gym was able to handle the ceremony quite well. How much would it cost to rent our own gym?


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 4:01 p.m.

>> They attributed a majority of the loss to the two new charter high schools that opened in the Ypsilanti community in fall 2012 Wow, they just don't get it. Why would any student go somewhere else if they (and their families) were satisfied where they were?


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

Exactly glimmer, I live in the Ypsilanti community and have spent $50k to send my kid to a better school and he's only in the 7th grade. And thats on top of what my taxes pay to the public school.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

"Reducing its staff by 4.5 teachers at the secondary level is expected to save YPS $450,000, Martin said." Fuzzy math at its finest. Firing 4.5 teachers who makes around 45k a year somehow equals 450k? Are they just making up stuff now? Even if you add in the YHS principal, there is no way that works out to 450k, even with insurance and benefits. Well there is one less person they need to interview for the new superintendent position.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

South Pointe Scholars is not a charter high school, it goes grades K-6 currently and will max out at 8th grade. If that is a reason Ypsilanti is using for loss of high school students, that is inaccurate. The loss is related to the lack of leadership.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

I'm assuming the administration will also have payless paydays.

Now Found

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

YPSD teachers took a 10% paycut in the fall. Could someone verify if the administration did as well?


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

Welcome to the new normal.................

Jim Pryce

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

I'm sure Pease Auditorium isn't free. In 1980 with over a 300 graduating class, & my brothers in 1981 & 1983 with classes as big. We used the Gym for graduation. Wow, use your OWN building ? Duh, nobody think of that?

tom swift jr.

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

Counting on a lack of snow to balance your budget seems like a risky way to do business.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 6:16 p.m.

Does anyone know how many of the board members that actually have kids currently enrolled in Ypsi or Willow Run Schools? Maybe then thay would understand what is important in this whole mess.


Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.

Outside of a poor job market or ties to Ypsi, why would any teacher want to re-apply for a job in the new district? So far, the new board has shown a willingness to just keep the same old people involved (almost half are from the old boards), so why should anyone think anything is going to change or get fixed?

Now Found

Tue, Jan 8, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

Not paying the teachers for their work is also a risky way to do business. Hopefully if they are not paid, they will not show up for work. Consolidate some buildings for a change and save money through building closure first before expecting your workers to show up and not receive payment for services rendered. Ridiculous!