Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Southfield Board Of Education Approves Imagine 2020 Plan

Tuesday night the Southfield Public School Board voted to enact a financial sustainablity plan that would merge the two comprehensive high schools in the district, sell Schoenhals Elementary and Brace-Lederle K-8 Schools, and close Adler Elementary.

The plan was made roughly based on recommendations from the Southfield Citizen's Advisory Committee  made earlier in the year and Dr. Felix Chow, an education fiscal consultant.

The financial staff of the district recommended the plan based on concerns that early warning legislation being discussed in Lansing would require the district to project it's budget for two years rather than one and fear that if the district could not increase its fund balance it would be at risk of eventually receiving an emergency manager with a projected $5.4 million deficit in the 2016-17 school year.

When attempting to find a solution for the problem the staff looked at better utilizing the district's underused facilities. According to Plante-Moran CRESA, a real estate advisory firm, the district has roughly a 44% site utilization rate, while the state of Michigan recommends at least roughly a 60% site utilization rate.

The 4-3 vote was made after two community meetings held in early June at Southfield High School and Southfield-Lathrup High School. At those community meetings as well as at the June School Board meeting, parents, students and teachers expressed concerns about plan.

June 2, 2015 Meeting

June 4, 2015 Meeting

The presentations at that meeting described the district's financial position and the need to "right size". At that meeting Dr. Chow stated that due to a declining enrollment and property values the district is facing a trend of declining fund balance as currently its expenditures cannot decrease quickly enough to outpace those two trends.

Part of how the school is funded is based on a count of the students but between 2010 and 2014 the district has lost 1483 or about 33% of its students.

Some parents were concerned about some of the school consolidations fearing the mixture of the district's older and younger students. Both students and parents also expressed a fear that the having one high school athletic program would not allow for the same opportunities for students as in the past and that extracurricular and comprehensive programming such as music and art in general would be more limited.

In addition students expressed apprehension about losing their school identities.

In an attempt to address some of the communities concerns regarding extracurricular and athletics the Superintendant Dr. Lynda Wood (Note: a previous version of this post misspelled Dr. Woods first name as Linda) released a frequently asked question packet that is currently on the district's website.

Ultimately the proposal was approved with Board President Rance Williams, Vice President Yolanda Smith Charles, Secretary Betty Robinson and Trustee Leslie Smith voting yes and Trustee Nathaniel Lewis, Trustee Michael Poole, and Trustee Darrell Joyce voting no.

Other Useful Links
District's Imagine 2020 Website
October 2014 Plante-Moran Audit Presentation
Click on Detroit Article

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