Pontiac schools

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Three of the five school districts that face more scrutiny from Michigan’s Department of Treasury have reduced their general fund deficits last school year. That’s according to independent audits recently filed to the state. But some still face serious, ongoing problems. Here’s a breakdown of how the districts ended the 2013-14 school year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An audit of the Flint Community Schools has revealed that the district's deficit has risen to $21.9 million dollars. The district is searching for possible solutions, one of which may be state intervention or an emergency manager.

School officials know a solution is necessary, but they disagree that state involvement is the best way to solve their problems. Isaiah Oliver is the president of the Flint School Board. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

State law gives a special board up to $50 million to loan to schools in financial distress. The long-term, low-interest loans are supposed to help school districts restructure and pay down their debt.

But it appears $50 million isn’t going to be enough.

With the loans the Emergency Loan Board issued Monday, it's nearly reached that cap, four years ahead of schedule. Treasury Spokesman Terry Stanton says the board has issued $48.5 million to schools so far.

The former emergency manager of two Michigan school districts is moving onto help Pontiac schools.

Donald Weatherspoon was the emergency manager of the Highland Park and Muskegon Heights schools.

Now, he’s a consent agreement consultant for the Pontiac schools. The Pontiac school board chose to enter a consent agreement after a state review found the district was in "fiscal stress."

pontiac.k12.mi.us / Pontiac School District

Pontiac’s Board of Education approved a consent agreement with the state, in an attempt to avoid a financial manager appointment.

According to the Associated Press, there were four options on the table for the struggling school district, which runs a $38-million deficit:

1. The district could accept a consent agreement with the state.

2. An emergency manager could be appointed.

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Michigan jobless rate increases to 9 percent

"Michigan lost a net 7,000 jobs last month to bring the state’s unemployment rate to 9 percent. This is the third month in a row the state’s jobless rate has increased," Rick Pluta reports.

Census shows Michigan is doing well with retirement income, bad with health insurance and household income

New Census data sheds light on where Michigan stands nationally in regards to income, poverty and health insurance. As the Detroit Free Press reports, Michigan is among one of the top states for the number of people who have retirement income.

"Nearly 1 in 4 Michigan households has retirement income. . . Michigan’s median household income remains lower than the national average, while the state has fewer uninsured residents than the national average."

Pontiac Schools to have consent agreement, no emergency manager

"The Pontiac Board of Education has approved a consent agreement with the state to deal with a financial emergency in the district, avoiding the appointment of an emergency manager," the Associated Press reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Pontiac school district leaders have seven days to decide what path they wish to follow to address the district’s financial emergency.

Governor Rick Snyder has officially confirmed his determination that Pontiac schools are in a financial emergency. 

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Duggan and Napoleon lead primary race

Unofficial results from the primary elections for Detroit mayor have been released. Former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan won the race in what was largely seen as a long-shot write-in campaign. He received 46 percent of the votes. County Sheriff Benny Napoleon came in second place with 30 percent. The two candidates will now face each other in the general election this November.

Snyder says Pontiac school district is in a financial emergency

Governor Rick Snyder said yesterday he agrees with a review team’s finding that the Pontiac school district is in a state of financial emergency. The district faces an almost $38 million deficit, up almost 50 percent in the past year alone. The Pontiac school district can choose to appeal the decision. If the appeal is rejected, the district must choose whether to negotiate a deficit-elimination plan, ask the governor for permission to file for bankruptcy, or request a state-appointed emergency manager.

Field of candidates narrows in Flint’s special election

“Flint-area voters narrowed the field of candidates to two in a Michigan House of Representatives special election. Unofficial returns on Tuesday in the 49th District showed Democrat Phil Phelps and Republican Don Pfeiffer received the most votes in their respective primaries. They will face off in a special general election in November, with Phelps favored to win the heavily Democratic district. The seat was vacated when former Democratic Rep. Jim Ananich was sworn into the state Senate in May,” the Associated Press reports. 

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss Mike Duggan's write-in campaign, the Detroit City Council, and the Pontiac school district.

pontiac.k12.mi.us / Pontiac School District

Gov. Rick Snyder announced this afternoon that he agrees with a state review panel's report finding that the Pontiac school system is in a "financial emergency."

Under the state's "Local Financial Stability and Choice Act," the school system will have until August 13 to challenge the determination. After that, Pontiac Schools can decide among four options going forward:

pontiac.k12.mi.us / Pontiac School District

A state review team has determined the Pontiac school district is saddled with so much debt it’s in a financial crisis.

Now it’s up to Governor Rick Snyder to decide whether he agrees with that determination.

The state-appointed board found the school district’s debt has continued to grow over the past five years and it’s now almost $38 million dollars in the red with no credible plan to dig out. The district has missed paying some critical bills, including employee health insurance premiums.

pontiac.k12.mi.us / Pontiac School District

Teachers in the struggling Pontiac School District are suing the district after being told their healthcare coverage could get axed.

The teachers who filed the lawsuit are claiming school officials took money designated for their healthcare premiums, and transferred it to the general fund in order to make the district’s finances look better.

Diana Dillaber Murray from The Oakland Press reported:

pontiac.k12.mi.us / Pontiac School District

Gov. Rick Snyder has named six people to review the finances of the Pontiac School District, a step that could lead to the appointment of an emergency manager or other measures for the Oakland County district struggling with a $38 million budget deficit.

 A three-member Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board on June 6 found "probable financial stress" in the district.

Under the new emergency manager law, if a financial emergency is found to exist, Pontiac officials have four options. They can enter a consent agreement with the state, agree to an emergency manager, go through a neutral evaluation process, or choose bankruptcy.

Here's a list of all school districts and cities that engaged with the state's emergency manager law (the Local Financial Stability and Choice Act).

Dwight Burdette / wikimedia commons

Small school districts with big money troubles could be broken up by the state under a new law signed by Governor Rick Snyder on Tuesday.

Saginaw County’s Buena Vista and metro Detroit’s Inkster could be the first districts dissolved and folded into their neighbors under the new law, MPRN's Rick Pluta reports.

Governor Snyder says that the review of the districts is proceeding quickly, so students and their families will know where they’re attending classes in the fall.

“We’re talking days, not months,” Snyder said.

Sarah Alvarez / Michigan Radio

To add to the woes of public education in Michigan, six new school districts are running deficits.

Forty-nine was the record, now make it 55 school districts – from the Traverse Bay Area to Wayne County – with deficits.

More from MPRN's Rick Pluta:

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says declining enrollment is the most-common issue in the deficit districts. That’s led to a loss of state funding.

Flanagan says schools do need more resources, but most are keeping their budgets balanced. The ones that don’t, he says, are a rarity.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint School District is planning over one hundred layoffs, the Flint Journal reported.

139 teachers and faculty in Flint will receive pink slips, with the staff cuts going into effect the day after school gets out on June 10.

While the interim superintendent emphasized the possible rehiring of many of these teachers at the end of June, the school district’s deficit reduction plan calls for firing 150 teachers over the next three years.

The Flint School District has three years to chop away at a $15.6-million deficit. If the deficit isn’t eliminated by their 2015 deadline, the district could lose state funding.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Albion School Board voted last night to close the district’s high school.

Beginning this fall, the mid-Michigan district will only serve students in grades K through eight.

Some students cried.  Others just shook their heads, after the school board voted 5 to 1, with one abstention, to close Albion High School.

School board members said repeatedly they didn’t want to close the school, but a projected million dollar budget deficit could not be ignored.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Battle Creek State Senator Mike Nofs says he doesn’t think higher than expected revenue in the school aid fund should be used to bail out struggling school districts.

Nofs says at today’s revenue estimating conference, state officials will announce the school aid fund has nearly $100 million more than predicted.

Nofs expects there will be push to use that money to help the struggling Pontiac and Buena Vista school districts. But he says that’s not a good idea.

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Detroit is worse off than we thought

"Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager is painting a bleak financial picture. Kevyn Orr's first report says Detroit's net cash position was negative $162 million as of April 26 and that the projected budget deficit is expected to reach $386 million in less than two months. That's more than the city's estimate" reports the Associated Press.

Pontiac schools might be saved; no such luck for Buena Vista

The state is expected to release a payment as soon as today that will keep the Pontiac school district from declaring bankruptcy according to a letter sent to the district last week by the state Department of Education.

"There is still no plan to get 400 kids in the Buena Vista district back to school. Buena Vista closed its doors abruptly after losing a monthly payment because the district owes the state money. " Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta reports.

A new bill would reward teacher performance

"Michigan teachers' performance in the classroom would play a bigger role in the amount they get in their paychecks under a proposal being debated in the state House. Supporters argue that rewarding teachers who perform better and moving away from a system that rewards seniority will improve teachers and benefit students" reports the Associated Press.

State signs plan to help ailing Pontiac schools

May 11, 2013
pontiac.k12.mi.us / Pontiac School District

Michigan's top education official has signed off on a plan to help the beleaguered Pontiac School District.

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