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Conference Offered to Districts In or Near Deficit Status

School board presidents, superintendents, business officials and union officials from districts with a current fund balance of five percent or less, as well as representatives from their intermediate school districts, legislators and State Board of Education trustees have been invited to the Lansing Center on Monday, September 16 to address a critical issue facing education—a record number of school districts operating in a budget deficit.

The Fiscal Forethought—Options and Actions for Financially Challenged Districts Conference is a free one-day event for these districts to take part in presentations covering a range of financial topics; hear updates on efforts being made by the participating associations on their behalf; and provide suggestions on ways they feel they can be most effectively assisted.

Conference highlights include:

  • State Superintendent Mike Flanagan will speak on getting ahead of the current financial picture.
  • Michigan School Business Officials Executive Director David Martell, CPA and Associate Executive Director Robert Dwan will cover how to recognize the early warning signs of financial distress.
  • Strategies for predicting realistic enrollment trends will be offered by David Zuhlke, Ph.D., governmental and legislative liaison and Patricia Alderman, executive assistant for the Middle Cities Education Association.
  • Michigan Education Association Executive Director Gretchen Dziadosz and former Michigan Association of School Boards Assistant Director of Labor Relations and Legal Services Eric Griggs address strategies to consider when negotiating contracts in the face of budget deficits.
  • A panel, including Michigan Association of School Administrators Executive Director William H. Mayes, will discuss the importance of and tips for ensuring that the district’s board, superintendent and business officials are on the same page.
  • Representatives from three districts, Garden City Public Schools, Southfield Public Schools and Webberville Community Schools, will share how they eliminated their deficits and the lessons they learned along the way.

Since peaking at 1.7 million in 2002-2003, K-12 enrollment has dropped every year since and has decreased by 177,000 students overall. Over the same time period, the number of deficit districts rose from 10 to 49 by the end of the 2011-2012 school year. Over the past year, that number has increased to 55 out of 549 total districts and two districts were dissolved by the state.

Recognizing a need to provide more timely information to districts operating with or near a deficit, the Michigan Association of School Boards organized a meeting with the Michigan Department of Education and Michigan School Business Officials to discuss holding a conference specifically to address the special circumstances of these districts.

As the idea was shared amongst the Michigan education community, additional organizations and companies signed on to participate both monetarily and with other resources.

The additional partner organizations are the Michigan Association of School Administrators, Michigan Education Association and Middle Cities Education Association. Corporate sponsors include Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, Inc., Dean Transportation, Inc. and Dean Trailways of Michigan, Granger Construction Company, GRBS, Munetrix® and SET SEG School Insurance Specialists.