Flint schools face $20 million budget deficit - WNEM TV 5

Flint schools face $20 million budget deficit

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A local district that was blind sided last month with an additional $10 million deficit is forced to go back to the drawing board.

The school board discussed a new plan on Wednesday to eliminate what is now a $20 million shortfall.

Leaders of the Flint School District believe all the cuts and school closings they already approved earlier this year will be enough to get them out of debt if they can keep enrollment up.

They plan to ask the state for more time to get out of the red.

"We felt like we cut ourselves to the bone and we've decided it's not responsible for the education of the students to continue to cut in the years that were previously provided," said Richard Carpenter, school district chief financial officer.

Earlier this year the district submitted a deficit elimination plan to the state. Now they have to come up with a new one. District leaders said their solution is pretty simple.

"We're looking at a $3 million to $3.5 million surplus for the 2014 to 15 school year," Flint's interim Superintendent Larry Watkins said.

They said if the debt is managed properly and student enrollment numbers match the projections the district should have a surplus of around $3 million for the current and following fiscal years. 

They plan to ask the state for permission to extend the debt another three years.

"We say, you know what everything is going to be zero? You know what, I don't believe it. I don't trust it, just like I haven't before," David Davenport said.

While there were some objections, the board approved the plan 7 to 2. 

The success of the plan all depends on the number of students they get in the classroom. If the district doesn't reach it's enrollment goal the board will have to come up with a new plan, and that could mean more cuts.

One board member said those cuts should start at the top.

"If we got to do it let's do it. I want to keep as much money as we can for the teachers to teach our children. I don't care what's down at the administration building," Vera Perry said.

The board members approved an updated plan just in the nick of time. Leaders of the district have to submit their approved plan to the Michigan Department of Education Thursday.

The plan is now in the hands of the state, but its approval is conditional based on enrollment once school starts this fall.

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