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Flint school district budget deficit soars to $20 million

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

The Flint school district is sinking deeper into red ink.

Less than 12 months ago, an audit placed the district’s budget deficit at $10.4 million.  It's now pegged at $20.4 million.  

The Flint school district has been struggling to reduce its multi-million dollar deficit for years. But last night, school district officials described recent budget plans as being “far from reality,” even describing the district’s current budget as only ”close to reality.”

Isaiah Oliver is the president of the Flint Board of Education.  He calls the new deficit number “devastating”

“But it provides us an opportunity to take on our challenges,” says Oliver.

It’s possible the $20.4 million estimate may not be completely accurate.

School Board member Vera Perry says she’s had her doubts about the accuracy of the district’s budget for years.

Perry asked new school district CFO Richard Carpenter if he was “solid" on the numbers he used to calculate the deficit.  

Carpenter simply said, “yes.”  

"You understand there is doubt,” Perry responded.

Despite the district’s persistent budget problems, Board President Isaiah Oliver bristles at the suggestion that an emergency manager may have more success correcting the district’s budget problems.

“I would challenge anyone to share with me where that success has happened,” says Oliver. 

Flint school district officials have until July 31 to send the state a new deficit elimination plan. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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