DETROIT
03/12/2012 12:10 pm ET

Ypsilanti Schools Struggle With Budget Deficit, Declining Enrollment

The Ypsilanti school district is struggling to find ways to deal with a debt estimated to reach $9.4 million by the end of this school year.

In February, the district revised its earlier 2011-2012 budget to include a $4.5 million shortfall for the current year in addition to a $4.9 million accumulated deficit from the last few years, AnnArbor.com reports.

The district also planned to eliminate teaching positions in January, due to an enrollment decline of 118 students from the previous year.

Ypsilanti Public Schools Superintendent Dedrick Martin told AnnArbor.com that the district's fiscal problems were "extremely serious" and that he would be going over the budget "line by line" with principals and other school officials to find ways to cut costs.

“We are considering every building and major department a cost center," he said.

A deficit-elimination plan for the current school year blames the district's financial problems on an unresolved structural deficit that began accumulating in 2004.

Under the plan, Ypsilanti schools will resolve their financial issues by introducing an improved curriculum to stabilize enrollment and by reducing salary and benefits through union concessions.

The document also mentions significant teaching and administrative staff reductions since 2010, but notes support staff has "been reduced beyond a point where work can be completed effectively."

Ypsilanti Public Schools is just one of 48 school districts in the state that showed budget deficits for the last school year or are projected to have a deficit for this year.

State cuts to K-12 education funding have further hampered these districts. Last year, state lawmakers working with Gov. Rick Snyder cut funding to K-12 schools from $7,316 per student to $6,846 per student.

Under Snyder's plan for the coming fiscal year's budget, districts can still qualify for additional money from a $190 million statewide fund, but they must meet a series of "best practices" set by lawmakers that include outsourcing non-instructional services and raising employee health care premiums.

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