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Posted on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 : 10 a.m.

Ypsilanti school board adopts balanced budget that relies on union concessions, modest student loss

By Tom Perkins

The Ypsilanti Public Schools board approved a balanced budget of about $51.5 million for 2010-2011 Monday night, but it comes with a high level of uncertainty.

“This budget has more assumptions than any other budget I’ve ever seen,” Board President David Bates said.

david bates 42010.jpg

David Bates

Among the assumptions Chief Financial Officer David Houle listed in a budget presentation to the school board during a public hearing Monday night is the willingness of the disrict's teachers union, the Ypsilanti Education Association to accept a 7-percent pay cut. The Ypsilanti Support Staff Association must accept a 4 percent pay cut after taking a 3-percent cut this year.

The district will save $2 million if the unions agree to the salary concessions.

The unions must also agree to a hard cap on district health care contributions, despite an unexpected $873,000 spike in health care costs.

The budget further assumes no more than 100 students will leave Ypsilanti schools, even though an elementary and middle school closed at the end of the year. Districts typically see students leaving when schools close..


Dedrick Martin

Houle said that figure was based on estimates developed with the deficit elimination plan. Several officials pointed to the early successes of New Tech High School in attracting new students, which they believe will help make up for some of the losses.

“Until you can see the whites of their eyes next year you don’t know what you really have, but I’d say we are seeing some positive signs,” Superintendent Dedrick Martin said.

The district would also need the state to maintain current per-pupil funding levels in order to have a balanced budget. The state has regularly adjusted those levels in the past. State aid accounts for over $20 million of the district’s $51 million in revenues.

The deficit elimination plan projected a $431,000 surplus at the end of FYE 2011, but Houle said the district faced several unexpected issues. Most significantly, an increase in the retirement rate cost that's about $560,000 more than what was expected when the deficit elimination plan was adopted in December of last year.

After the meeting, union president Kelly Powers said the district is asking the teachers’ union to work longer hours while taking a paycut and paying more towards benefits. She said the idea would likely “not fly with the union members,” but did say they recognize that concessions have to be made.

The district is ending the current fiscal year with a negative $4.7 million fund balance.



Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 7:57 p.m.

Interesting that the same school board that put extra $$$$ perks in the new superintendent's contract feel the need to balance the budget with cuts from staff that make far less than the superintendent's salary without perks. It is true, staff will need to make cuts to help address the budget deficit but make no mistake about it, the deficit was increased/made worse by decisions that were made by the administration and a very arrogant majority of the board. The superintendent has a very generous salary and additional monetary perks were not necessary at a time the district knew there was a growing deficit. Now that the school board and administration want staff to take pay cuts the perks seem insensitive, irresponsible, and downright outrageous! If there was not enough money to give staff an increase or at least a pay freeze, there was also not enough money to offer the superintendent additional contractual perks. One additional note: "Until you can see the whites of their eyes next year you dont know what you really have, but Id say we are seeing some positive signs, Superintendent Dedrick Martin said. You've got to be kidding me. How about... until students are present in classrooms next year..


Wed, Jun 30, 2010 : 9:29 p.m.

sad day - Thank you for your incomprehensible rant. Half of what you mention is fiction, but you obviously have an agenda I don't understand. But, Hey! You make more sense than some of the YPS board members, so carry on! Maybe you can help them sue the State!

sad day

Wed, Jun 30, 2010 : 5:42 p.m.

County stats have proven that according to pupils enrolled in the Ypsilanti district, that we are extremely top heavy with administrators. Why do they need a district spokesperson, when the super or asst. super could do that job. Why are there principals that have no degree in education, but carry a doctorate in speech, running buildings and micro managing? Why is there an energy person, but never is in the buildings to see if lights, computers and printers are off? Why are outside door keys and codes handed out to so many staff member to access the buildings anytime they want, and then they neglect to shut alarmed doors, so there is alarm calls and the police have to be dispatched? Would you like me to go on?


Wed, Jun 30, 2010 : 7:24 a.m.

Sad Day - you may be right, but what, specifically, are those "other cuts"? I'm sure the Board and administration would love to know...


Wed, Jun 30, 2010 : 4:58 a.m.

Let's not forget that the reason it's 7% is that the teachers have not negotiated in good faith all year and avoided the 3% cut everyone (including administration) has already taken. So, while you will hear 7% discussed for teachers, it will be more like 3 or 4 for the other groups. BTW, I missed Monday's meeting and heard from a friend that the new YHS principal resigned before ever starting. AA.Com didn't think that was worth reporting until 4:30 yesterday? Way to cover the real news!


Tue, Jun 29, 2010 : 9:52 p.m.

@ JS - I agree 2 mil is a ton when attempting to save 4.7 million. Its just that districts in Cali and elsewhere have come up with creative solutions to solve their budget crisis without massive cuts to staff that are permanent to the pay structure. Once staff concedes 7 percent they will not recoup pay to "standard of living" pay because schools generally provide 1 to 2 percent raises during the 'good years' (some maybe more). Most local districts have also been on pay freezes for the past 2 to 3 years but the public seems to forget that concession.

sad day

Tue, Jun 29, 2010 : 6:18 p.m.

MY, MY, MY........there is a lot of hostile folks out there today...I saw no where in the budget remarks that Administrators and Principals will take a 7% decrease in their salaries. Did you know that the MEA can and has offered to medically insure the employees for 1.5 million dollars less then what they are paying now? Did you also know that Administration is using the seven open custodial positions as bargaining chips, to strip away the last bit of dignity the support staff has left. The support staff also has families to feed and bills to pay, some of these people make less than 1,000.00 per month, and you want to take away from them. I say if you take your cuts from them, maybe the support staff workers should use schools of choice and put their children in surrounding districts. That should take about 500 kids away from Ypsilanti Public Schools. I have 7 grandchildren in that district and I'm sure the quality of their education would not suffer if they changed districts. The administrators should take a different approach to the cuts and leave the support staff alone, and yes the teachers should take the 3% cut that everyone else has taken, and get off their high horse and stop thinking they are better than everyone else, they make very good money for working only 180 days a year.

Jenny S

Tue, Jun 29, 2010 : 4:20 p.m.

@dmack, "to save only 2 million in the budget?".. Out of a 4.7 million deficit (number taken from article), 2 million is a lot. It's unfortunate that teachers need to make concessions, but if they don't, where will the money come from? When the majority of your budget goes to pay teachers, where else do you think this money will come from? There is nothing else left to cut.


Tue, Jun 29, 2010 : 3:55 p.m.

I am saddened that some in the A2 community equate fair wages for teachers as a lack of care or concern for their students. Districts around MI slowly reduced budgets using the same measures A2 district is utilizing now (pay to play, etc)and were not seen as evil money mongers. Is it really justifiable for Ypsilanti teachers to take a 7 percent cut and support staff another 4 percent to save only 2 million in the budget? Are there no other options? The state budget crisis for students financing is a temporary problem (that may become long term) so to me you resolve with temporary solutions affecting teacher pay for one year (as in L.A., California). Maybe it is cliche but you will get what you pay for.


Tue, Jun 29, 2010 : 2:59 p.m.

Sh1, I don't expect anyone to work for free to show they care - last time I looked, teachers gotta eat too... It isn't, however, too much to ask that they actually negotiate and do their share, whatever that is.


Tue, Jun 29, 2010 : 2:57 p.m.

If teachers really cared about the kids, they'd work for free.


Tue, Jun 29, 2010 : 2:56 p.m.

Janet, Ypsi teachers aren't as selfish as other teachers in the county? Uh, hello, the other county teachers are all taking cuts, not stalling in negotiations.


Tue, Jun 29, 2010 : 2:54 p.m.

A2 Agnostic - wow, that's a lot of accusations without substance! How about staying in A2 and let Ypsi Agnostic take over? Seriously, you do make a few good points among many bogus ones. Most importantly, how does Houle make bargaining assumptions before the fact? Why does the school board buy this stuff? Now, the Ypsi teachers have stalled all year knowing no increase is better than a cut. You can't take money away from last year, so now they are looking at double the cut and Ms. Powers puts in on her membership ("not fly with union members"). Hey, Ms. Powers, how about REALLY representing your teachers and go to the bargaining table with the goal of accomplishing something. Every day the teachers stall, the larger the deficit becomes and the bigger the pay cut will have to be. I remember when the teacher union actually cared for the kids, not just the $$$$.


Tue, Jun 29, 2010 : 2:45 p.m.

thank you ypsilanti teachers union. you arent as selfish as the rest of the teachers in this county. maybe some teachers do really care about THE KIDS.


Tue, Jun 29, 2010 : 1:51 p.m.

A2 Agnostic, clearly you don't understand what's going on. Since I don't have all day to correct your errors, I'll just agree with Jenny S. If I was a member of the board of education, though, I wouldn't sleep well with the amount of assumptions in this budget and it sounds like Mr. Bates is already losing sleep, as well he should. I have to question whether or not Mr. Houle is the right man for the job, considering this. I was willing to give Mr. Houle the benefit of the doubt when he came to Ypsi from Willow Run, but this seems like the same "smoke and mirrors" bookkeeping that got WR in trouble. I sincerely hope the board keeps close tabs on the finances this year and makes Mr. Houle prove himself and his figures. As for Ms. Powers, she is going to have to realize that everyone is biting the bullet here. Teachers are the ones holding out, since support staff and administrators have already taken pay cuts. I realize she is supposed to be advocating for her union members, but let's face it - if the district folds her union won't exist, either.

Jenny S

Tue, Jun 29, 2010 : 1:30 p.m.

A2 Agnostic, your level of ignorance is unbelievable! Your comments are so full of misunderstanding that they make me laugh. If anyone needs to wake up it's you. I think you need a new screen name because you'd think someone calling themself A2 Agnostic would have checked out the facts before writing this. Yes you are the one assuming too much!

A2 Agnostic

Tue, Jun 29, 2010 : 11:39 a.m.

Can ANYONE wake up in our community? Especially the Black community "leaders"? Can ANYONE wake up on the school board?? How can people be so blind to the problems that are right in front of their faces? Someone help me on this please, enlighten me. How can you make so many assumptions and call it a day? Is there a reason that the day to day people that interact with your and my children will be doing so begrudgingly after ANOTHER year of being a pack-mule for this district? What has the district done for them? Let me see, they have told them they are not getting the job done and that they ARE replaceable, let's change (dummy down) the grading scale, let's try reading for half the class periods everyday, let's do writing for half the class periods everyday, let's add a 7th hour in between 3rd & 4th hours to work on state "MME" testing, let's try love and logic, let's try contacting non-existing parents more, and let's open up more schools that can suck the best and the better students out of Ypsi High, like the ECA, New Tech, RCTC, the planned online satellite school. I do beleive this district needs to take off the blinders and look around. Why are we paying 2 administration people 100k+ to do the job of the one they are replacing? Why did they put new technology upgrades into both closed buildings BEFORE they closed them? Why were all the PC computers that were replaced by Mac's not sold or donated thrown away? Why did they take an award winning Jr. High Principal and place her in an HR position? If the High School is so bad off why is SHE not going there? Why is the superintendent bringing in his "own people" with no real stake in the community? Why are we paying for a new administration building upgrade when they could have used one of the CLOSED buildings instead? A I the one assuming too much???? WAKE UP YPSILANTI!