Number Of Michigan Deficit Districts Shrinks

Feb 27, 2014

The list of Michigan school districts that have budget deficits is shrinking and the list of districts that are getting in the black is growing.

That was the report Thursday from the state Department of Education to the Legislature.

The Michigan Public Radio Network’s Rick Pluta reports.

There are 46 districts on the deficit list today, compared to 50 at the end of last year.

But the news isn’t all good, says Mike Flanagan. He is the state schools superintendent. He says too many school districts are not making the tough calls as fiscal disaster looms. Things like closing buildings as enrollments drop. He says no school district has taken up the state’s offer of money to help consolidate.

“You know, that’s a bad sign because there’s room for consolidation,” he says.  “It has to be thoughtful.”

Last year, two districts were forced to consolidate with their neighbors after they ran out of money in the middle of the school year. Flanagan says one answer might be to give local superintendents the authority to make difficult budget choices when elected school boards won’t.