Flint School Board votes to borrow money, approve plan - WNEM TV 5

Flint School Board votes to borrow money, approve revised deficit elimination plan

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FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

Eager eyes watch on and wonder if the Flint School District will survive.

"I'm just standing by and giving them some support, the best I can, and hope everything goes well for our school district," said Curtis Speights, a former principal in the district.

District leaders said the financial situation is far from good.

"Our back is against the wall, and when your back is against the wall, all you can do is fight," said board president Isaiah Oliver.

The district faces a $10.4-million deficit, coupled with more than $8 million owed to the Genesee Intermediate School District for misspent funds. On Monday night, the school board voted to borrow more just to make sure their employees' checks don't bounce.

"It was too close. It was a daily concern. But now, we know that for the remainder of this school year, staff will be paid," said Flint's Interim Superintendent Larry Watkins.

The district has lost some 700 students since September, causing state aid to decline.

The district had asked the state if it could borrow $15.6 million to help with its cash-flow problems, but the state will only allow it to borrow $5.9 million. Watkins said this will be short-term aid, and now the focus needs to shift on the bigger picture.

"We will have to work awfully hard to retain the students that we need to for the 14-15 school year," said Watkins.

As spelled out in the district's deficit elimination plan turned in to the state, the turnaround and debt payback will only work if the district doesn't lose nearly as many students next year.

"As we make decisions, we're considering the thoughts of the people. That goes away if the state comes in," said Oliver.

In addition to the nearly $6 million in loans by the district, the state also approved the district's request to have its February state aid sent early this month to help with the cash-flow problems.

The Flint School Board will meet again Wednesday, to hear the administration's outline of potential staffing cuts and changes.

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