Inkster and Buena Vista schools to be dissolved after failing to make funding deadline

(WXYZ) - The Michigan Department of the Treasury says neither Inkster Public Schools nor the Buena Vista Public School District submitted the necessary documentation to avoid being dissolved by Monday's deadline.

Both districts were declared no longer financially viable by State Superintendent Mike Flanagan and State Treasurer Andy Dillon last week. They were given until 5:00 p.m. Monday to provide documentation that showed they had arranged for enough funding to make it through the end of the next school year.

Because neither district provided the documentation by the deadline, they will be dissolved and incorporated in whole or in part into one or more of the other school districts within the respective Intermediate Schools district.

This will be done so that children from those districts will have viable schools to attend when classes begin on September 3, 2013.

"I really don't know what I'm going to do," said Melissa Dubose.  The Inkster mom only has six weeks to figure out where her two children will attend school in the fall.  "It's just sad that this is even something we have to stress out about with Inkster being how it is already," she said.

There are four districts now under consideration for just over 2,200 students who attend Inkster Public Schools.  The districts include Westwood Community Schools, Wayne-Westland Community Schools, Romulus Community Schools, and the Taylor School District.

The Wayne Regional Education Service (RESA), which is the ISD for Wayne County, will redraw the school boundary lines for Inkster on Thursday.  Governor Snyder signed a law last month that allowed the state to dissolve insolvent districts.

"To rush this legislation through as recently happened, so close to the school year, with so many unanswered questions, we do think that that's inappropriate," said Christopher Wigent, Superintendent for Wayne RESA.

Parents of children in neighboring schools districts now worry their child's classroom will be overcrowded with new students.

"His teacher, she could do a one-on-one with each kid in her class," said Jocelyn Satterfield.  Her son is in the Wayne-Westland Community Schools.  "Now with that they are closing these schools it's going to be too many or they may need a helper or something," she said.

The kids are not the only ones who will need to find a new district or place to go.  Roughly 91 teachers and 49 support staff members are also out of a job. 

The district's school buildings will now go to whichever neighboring school district's boundary lines they fall within.

The Wayne RESA board will meet on Thursday at 6 p.m. to redraw the new school boundary lines.  The meeting will be at their building at 33500 Van Born in Wayne.

The board hopes to have the maps finalized that night and posting the information for parents in municipal buildings and school buildings.  There will also be a robocall system that activates after the meeting to advise parents of district updates for their children.

The school district posted the following statement on their website about the situation:

The Inkster Public Schools ("the District") is issuing this statement in response to the Superintendent of Public Instruction and State Treasurer's joint determination that the District has met all the factors for dissolution as required under Public Act 96 of 2012. The District disputes the determination that it meets the criteria for dissolution. The District has submitted an acceptable deficit elimination plan ("DEP") and has the capability to effectively implement the DEP.

The State Department of Education has advised the District that although the District has submitted an acceptable DEP, the State lacks confidence that the District can implement the DEP. The State has not, however, advised the District of the standard or criteria by which it made this lack of confidence determination.

During the public meeting held by the Superintendent of Public Instruction and State Treasurer on Thursday, July 18, 2013, the District was advised that it would be dissolved effective at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, July 22, 2013, unless the District could, within two (2) business days, provide (1) documentation showing that it has a commitment from a credible lending institution for enough funds to get the District through the 2013-2014 school year, and (2) an opinion from the District's accounting/audit firm indicating the new funds would allow the District to remain open through the end of 2013-2014. The State's criteria for possible avoiding dissolution, however, are impractical.

First, Comerica Bank advised the District that approval of a loan was contingent on the District having an approved DEP. Thus, although the District has adopted an acceptable DEP, the State Department of Education, as stated above, has declined to approve the DEP, thereby hindering the District's ability to secure a loan from Comerica Bank.

Second, the District's accounting firm has advised the District that it cannot

provide the required opinion because, under AICPA Standards (AT 9101), CPAs are prohibited from rendering any kind of opinion on solvency. Thus, the neither the District's accounting firm nor any other CPA firm can provide the opinion required by the State. Alternatively, the District and its accounting firm are willing to meet with the Michigan Department of Education and the State Department of Treasury to discuss in detail all assumptions used in developing the DEP.

For the above reasons, the State has not given the District a viable alternative to dissolution.

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