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