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Posted on Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 9:45 a.m.

September payroll in Ypsilanti schools: 'We need all the stars and the moon to align perfectly'

By Danielle Arndt

Editor's note: The date when Ypsilanti retirees will receive their contractual payouts has been corrected in this story.

Ypsilanti Schools Superintendent Dedrick Martin told Board of Education members Monday he may have found a way to ensure employees are paid in September.

But at least one woman who attended Monday’s meeting was not pleased with how they chose to do so, and threatened to sue the school district.

Ypsilanti schools needed to borrow $14 million from the Michigan Department of Education for the 2012-13 academic year in order to have sufficient funds in its bank account to pay employees on time.

In mid-July, Martin was informed, because of the district’s nearly $10 million deficit, it could not borrow the full $14 million. The MDE instead loaned Ypsilanti about $12.7 million, triggering concern among administrators about making payroll.

At the school board meeting on July 23, Martin told trustees the district faced a possible pay-less payday in September, a similar serious cash-flow problem in December and even less money in January during Ypsilanti’s two back-to-back pay periods.

“We need all the stars and the moon to align perfectly for this to work,” Martin said of the district’s plan for making payroll this fall.

He said December’s payroll issue could possibly be taken care of using “tweaking” methods as well.

“But by January and February, no amount of trickery is going to solve our problem. This essentially will buy us some time… but we are going to need huge structural and financial solutions come January.”

In order to pay current employees, the district has pushed back retiree payouts by 21 days. Retirees will not receive a check for the unused sick days and vacation time they are owed until Nov. 20, rather than Sept. 1.

“That’s unacceptable,” said Anna Harless, a recent retiree. “I worked half my life for this district. I'm now on a fixed income.”

Harless threatened if she does not receive her paycheck on Sept. 1, she intends to sue Ypsilanti Public Schools in small claims court.

“I have every intention of getting the money I was projected to receive and I am contractually owed,” she said.

Martin explained retirees will be paid, just at a different time so as to assist the cash flow situation.

Retiree payouts account for nearly $250,000 of the slightly more than $800,000 Ypsilanti is short on the payroll, Martin said.

The Ypsilanti Education Association, the Ypsilanti Support Staff Association and the Ypsilanti Principals and Administrators Association came to the table and worked with district leaders to negotiate the payouts being pushed back.

Among other measures the district will implement are delaying some of its monthly utility and other non-urgent bills and working with the Washtenaw Intermediate School District to have some of its special education reimbursement money advanced.

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


Rib Queen

Tue, Aug 21, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

Every other industry with retirees has had to make cuts for the greater good. School districts are no different. Retired teachers served children==some better than others. They need to support the children left behind in having their chance at decent schools in their futures. Stop letting teachers pay forward to accrue years toward retirement for a start! Time for change and the reduction of perks has come to education as well.

Rib Queen

Tue, Aug 21, 2012 : 4:43 p.m.

I attempted to call attention to the flagrant mismanagement of Ypsilanti Schools budget and the old school politics that led up to it. There were no takers with the folks at the AA News who cover stories coming out of this district who would have helped call attention to it. Mr. Martin needs a big broom at his behind along with a few others on the school board who looked the other way while all this enabling was going down. There are still long time teaching staff and their salaries who would be retired under emergency management. Vote NO in November to end this charade and to do what is right for the kids!

Madeleine Borthwick

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

"Moon/Stars?" some celestial event.....


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

I heard there is a blue moon this month. Is this what they are talking about?

Rodney Nanney

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

This mess has been brewing for nearly a decade now, dating back to decisions made by the school board to approve union contracts that included big one time raises to union teachers. The notion at the time was that Ypsi teachers were underpaid because their average pay was less than the state average for teachers. This big bump-up was not justified by tax revenues at the time, and to this day has left the district under ever increasing financial pressure. Superintendent Dedrick Martin has done everything in his power to restore financial solvency to the district, but the school board continues to operate as though there is no real problem. If you want to fire someone, fire the school board who approved the unsustainable spending.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

I hope parents are watching.... get your kids out of there.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

Out where? Ypsilanti high school will be the only one operational in a year after this merger goes thru. After that? Who knows

sad day

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

You have been misled!!!!!! not only do they want the retirees to wait 120 days for their money, they are no longer union members and the unions have no right to bargain on their behalf. There was contract language in place and it should be honored.

Jay Thomas

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

This is why everyone should have a 401k and not a pension. You can't guarantee an entity employing someone will be around in fifty years time (private or public).


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

First, public pensions ARE guaranteed by the state constitution. The state is constitutionally required to pay public employees in the pension plan the cash portion of their pension benefits. There is no legal way around this. Second, multiple analyses have shown that 401(k) plans do not provide sufficient retirement savings for those who have them. The contributions by employees are not required and the contributions by employers are not guaranteed. Employer contributions can be suspended at any time. Further, the accounts can be cashed in (albeit at a penalty), borrowed against and in certain circumstances, used for non-retirement activities. The permissible investments are largely limited to market-based assets, which are neither guaranteed nor insured, and as we have all seen, can easily disappear leaving nothing behind. Worse, 401(k) accounts are managed by the beneficiaries themselves, most of whom can't balance a checkbook, much less manage an investment portfolio. From the beneficiaries' standpoint, 401(k) plans are VASTLY INFERIOR to pension plans. Don't kid yourself: 401(k) plans were designed to meet the needs of employers, not retired workers.

ypsi 1

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

Wonder where in the universe ron granger or cinabar7071 have been... If they really had been reading about the financial problems at Ypsi they would know that it goes way back before Martin and this admin has done everything possible to deal with an impossible task. The default on debts is unavoidable and both retirees and current employees may find empty pay envelopes. Bankruptsy is probable in the future.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

And this isn't even her retirement check that she should be living on anyway. This is extra money. She can't wait 21 days to help out the organization that not only provided a career for her but is paying her retirement? They have a word for women like her and it's a good thing she is out because she shouldn't be teaching kids.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 10:22 p.m.

Please do not jump to conclusions. She is/was not a teacher. She was a custodian.

sad day

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 6:22 p.m.

You have been misled!!!!!! not only do they want the retirees to wait 120 days for their money, they are no longer union members and the unions have no right to bargain on their behalf. There was contract language in place and it should be honored.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

If I were this incompetent I'd be fired from my job. Dedrick Martin needs to be fired now! Why do we put up with incompetent public employees? Somehow I bet he gets a bonus this year.

Ron Granger

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

'We need all the stars and the moon to align perfectly' Maybe the management team should try sacrificing a chicken? Or, maybe they should ask a chicken for advice? Either way, I don't see how it could be worse than the current leadership.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

There is a rooster looking for a new home. Just a thought.

Jay Thomas

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

I have often thought that the YPSS might be using voodoo....

Basic Bob

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

I don't see how a union member can sue the district when her union has negotiated on her behalf. Complain to the union rep.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.

I found the phrase that I was looking for: "greedy geezer."

Basic Bob

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

@cinnabar, Per the article, the union *agreed* to delay her payment. Do you believe that the union has no right to make this concession? I'm not saying she should sue the union, only that she will have to wait for her fun money (it's a payout above and beyond her "fixed" income). It's not a coherent argument.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

Bob her contract was with the school district, not the union. The school district broke the contract, not the union. So why would you believe she should sue the union?