Ypsilanti Public Schools facing 'extremely serious' $9.4M budget deficit
Danny Shaw | AnnArbor.com
This story has been corrected.
Ypsilanti Public Schools is facing a $9.4 million deficit as the end of the school year approaches, prompting officials to take more in-depth looks at the budget.
The district’s 2011-2012 budget, most recently amended in February, shows revenue at $45,090,328, with expenditures expected at $49,661,787, according to Cathy Secor, accounting and finance consultant for the district.
The $9.4 million deficit is a combination of this year’s $4.5 million shortfall and the $4.9 million deficit carried over from the past school year, Secor said.
YPS was projected to have a single-year deficit of $1.8 million at the end of the 2010-2011 school year, but audited figures came back worse than expected at $4.9 million when revenues were down.
YPS is on a list with 48 other Michigan school districts operating on a deficit, along with Willow Run Community Schools and charter school Victory Academy in Washtenaw County. YPS has operated on a deficit since 2009, Secor said.
Superintendent Dedrick Martin said he has been in back-to-back meetings over the past month to go over the budget “line by line” with building administrators, school principals and Board of Education members to find ways to cut costs. He described the budget situation as being "extremely serious."
“We are considering every building and major department a cost center,” Martin said. “Each administrator or budget supervisor is really asking to be more accountable for every dollar spent and analyzing what we can do without or trim back.”
YPS cut 4.5 teaching positions and eliminated three courses in January to help balance the budget.
"If corrective action had not been taken mid-year, this figure would have been higher, increasing the years of accumulated deficit," Martin said.
In addition, Martin said the district has been restricting use of buildings when schools aren't in session, like on holidays, to conserve energy and reduce spending. He said the district also is selling ad space on school websites to help generate revenue.
Martin said a portion of the deficit increase can be attributed to the district losing 118 students over the past year, which is a loss of nearly $1 million, and a decrease in federal funding. The district receives a $7,514 foundation allowance per-pupil from the state.
“We’re trying to make better decisions with our money and our goals,” Martin said. “We’re not just looking in the year we are in, but looking out at the next two or three years so that we can tackle this problem because we know we can’t do it all in one year.”
The 2012-2013 budget isn't adopted until July, but Martin said he hopes to trim the deficit as much as possible to help lighten the deficit for next year
David Bates, Board of Education president, said board members are pleased to be more included in the budget process, but still are concerned about the deficit and what it means for the district.
“Every principal, every board member was invited to workshops that have walked us through essentially what the current financial situation is,” Bates said. “By going in with that approach, we will get a much more realistic and accurate idea of what’s going on that we haven’t seen in the past. It’s much more transparent.”
Bates said he hopes the in-depth approach will lead to a budget that’s more focused on student achievement, which he said is ultimately the district’s purpose.
“We want to scrutinize every single expenditure and look at its return and value for educating students and eliminating things that aren’t helping us educate,” he said. “It allows us to tear down what isn’t absolutely necessary and prioritize better with the money we are spending.”
Contact reporter Danny Shaw at 734-623-2544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.