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Posted on Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 6:02 a.m.

State approves Willow Run school district deficit elimination plan

By David Jesse

When the Michigan Department of Education gave its approval to the Willow Run school district’s deficit elimination plan, it did so with a word of caution, district officials said Thursday night.

That’s because while the plan relies on cuts, it’s also heavily based on seeing enrollment increases - something the district hasn’t experienced for a decade.

“The deficit elimination plan has been approved with some words of encouragement and also noting that it’s going to be challenging plan,” said Bert Emerson, the district’s interim director of finance and operations.

Thumbnail image for Willow-Run-bus.JPG

Willow Run officials say the pressure is on to boost enrollment by 50 students in the fall.

The district’s $20.8 million budget for this year projects growth of 50 students in the fall.

The district has been in the red for several years and is operating under a state-required deficit elimination plan. Each year, the plan has to be updated with details about how the district is trying to get out of its deficit.

The district has estimated it would be more than $3 million in debt at the end of the 2009-10 school year on June 30. The final figure won't be known until after an audit in the fall.

The district has made some cuts and gotten concessions from the teachers union in the form of pay cuts over the course of the next several years.

But board Trustee Clifford Smith reminded people during Thursday’s board meeting that cuts weren’t the only thing included in the plan.

“We need everybody’s help to increase enrollment. The pressure is on," he said. "A great part of this plan is increasing enrollment and not next year - by September. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Acting Superintendent Laura Lisiscki said staff members are already working on identifying families that have pulled students in recent years so other staff members can contact them to try to sway them back to the district.

“The state told us, ‘You said you’re going to do this, now show us.’ Lots of things are in motion,” she said.

David Jesse covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or at 734-623-2534.



Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 9:12 p.m.

BasicBob and proudparent are likely correct; within a year or so we will almost certainly be reading of the merging of the WR schools into another nearby district. The cost saving merging of government entities is occurring nationwide; schools, garbage, police, etc, can all be merged, outsourced, and privatized, as appropriate, at great savings and better value to the taxpayer.


Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 2:25 p.m.

Willow Run needs to pack it up themselves and run. Send the kids to Ypsi, Lincoln or Belleville. Any of those schools are better then WR. Good luck with the 50 students coming there. I think their losing 50.

Basic Bob

Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 12:57 p.m.

Wow, I thought the headline said "district elimination plan". That would be good news.


Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 11:50 a.m.

I think someone from the State who must have gone to the Willow Run School looked at and approved the plan. They obviously can't read or understand what a good turn around plan looks like.

Life in Ypsi

Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 11:23 a.m.

I pulled my child from WR and switched to Lincoln. It was the best decision and there is no way my child wants to come back to Willow Run, Maybe they should have called us a few years ago and asked why we left? I'm also upset WR only has one elective in middle school now. Thanks Willow Run for having me buy a band instrument and now my child can't be in band.


Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 10:24 a.m.

My family attended Willow Run schools up until a few years ago. We left the district and haven't looked back. The children seemed to be learning at a slower pace than in other districts, so I moved 'em. They are in a more positive environment, now. This plan is not going to work. 50 students? Willow Run needs to give it up. I project a loss of about 50 students.


Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 10:21 a.m.

This one is on the state. "Approval" should mean carefully considering the submission, but, apparently, the only important thing is turning it in on time. 50 more students? Really!


Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 10:17 a.m.

I can't believe that the state approved a plan that called for the increase of enrollment. They may have well approved a plan that called for all the teachers and the school board to play the lotto, and if there are any winnings that they go to the deficit reduction.


Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 7:55 a.m.

Every year they claim they are going to add students and then enrollment drops. Same thing will happen this year and they will continue to get away with these plans that aren't working.


Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 7:11 a.m.

I wish them luck as well, but I don't think that will happen. I am one of the parents that have decided to pull my child from the Willow Run School District, and a lot of other parents are doing the same. My child doesn't even want to go to Willow Run anymore either, so they may have hard time convincing people to keep or bring their kids back to the district. And it's really sad because they have that beautiful facility but they just don't have it together, and my child's education is too important.


Fri, Jul 16, 2010 : 6:51 a.m.

I wish them luck finding 50 new students. GM is closing the Willow Run Powertrain plant very soon and that will cause a loss of around another 400 jobs. Certainly some of those folks are located in the Willow Run School District and will probably pack up and move to greener and warmer pastures. This deficit reduction plan is held together with duct tape in my opinion.