Education, Emergency Manager Law, Emergency Managers, Michigan, Teachers — January 13, 2012 at 10:42 am

Think Emergency Managers are only for “black” cities & schools? Think again.


Much of the outrage about Public Act 4, the Emergency Manager law centers around its disparate impact on minority school districts and cities. But this law may be coming to city or school near you even if it’s not a so-called “majority minority” area. Take a look at the data that was assembled by Progress Michigan to see how obvious that is.

This week, Perry Schools announced that it will run out of money before the end of the year. According to an article in the Argus-Press (not available online without a subscription), Perry Schools face a $1 million deficit in their budget. Perry is in Shiawassee County, a County with a population of just under 71,000 according the 2010 census. How many African Americans in Shiawassee County? 0.5 percent.

From the Argus-Press article:

Faced with the likelihood of running out of money and the need to borrow up to $1 million for the current school year, the Perry Public Schools Board of Education Monday discussed the need to file a deficit elimination plan with the state. […]

The deficit elimination plan, which would conclude June 30, 2014, addresses a deficit that was projected to reach at least $2,115,436 by the end of the 2013-2014 school year. […]

[Business manager and interim superintendent Jim] Lockwood’s recommendations include cutting $1,145,132 from the teacher’s union by way of layoffs, increased health insurance contributions and no step increases; cutting $335,901 through the support staff union by way of layoffs, switching employees to contractors and reducing or eliminating benefits…

In addition to these cuts, Lockwood proposes massive cuts in their IT department along with reducing services as well as withdrawing from the Perry-Morrice Alternative and Adult Education Consortium. Ironically, Perry voters approved a nearly $3 million bond last spring by a 20-point margin, about a third of which was earmarked for technology upgrades (1:1 technology, updated computers for students, smart boards, science lab technology, etc.) This proposal eliminates the technology department before implementation of the second half of the bond expenditure. Just last fall, Perry schools boasted about the bond being virtually interest-free (pdf).

Clearly the brunt of these cuts is being taken by the teachers. However, as the Lockwood points out, this massive deficit is not the fault of the teachers. It is mainly due to the fact that the District has allowed its millage to drop to the lowest in the state with the exception of some tiny districts in the Upper Peninsula. Michigan law allows a maximum of 18 mils to fund schools. Perry’s millage is 14.7771 mils resulting in $1,492,751 in lost revenues.

So the district blew it and now the unionized teachers and support staff will be paying the price.

Emergency Managers: they’re not just for black people anymore.