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Flint schools to go to voters for help with structural deficit

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Flint voters will decide in March if they will support a millage that will help eliminate their school district’s deficit.

On Wednesday night, the school board voted to put the millage on the ballot.    

School board members had a choice of what to ask Flint voters. They could ask for either a renewal of the district’s current sinking fund millage, which pays for things like roof repairs, or ask voters to support a deficit reduction bond and a smaller sinking fund. Board members opted for the latter. 

“Doing two things: number one, helping us to make sure we reduce our deficit more quickly. And to actually also keep our buildings safe,” says Superintendent Derrick Lopez.

Flint Community Schools officials are working to eliminate a multi-million dollar structural deficit. 

The district has struggled financially in recent years with rising costs and declining enrollment.

Along with the deficit reduction bond, the school board is also considering closing four school buildings next fall as a way to save money. Parents and students of the schools on the list jammed a school board meeting last month to voice their opposition.   

The board will have to make a decision on closing schools in February, in order to avoid scheduling problems in the fall. But that decision would come less than a month before Flint voters are asked to support the millage.  

Superintendent Derrick Lopez is optimistic Flint voters will support the millage on the March ballot.

“We believe that our schools are good for our kids,” Lopez said after last night’s meeting. “And we actually believe this is going to pass.”

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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