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Superintendent explains Flint Community Schools proposal, with voting date around the corner

Photo: Dr. Derrick Lopez, superintendent of Flint Community Schools, explains common misconceptions residents have about the Flint Community Schools proposal.


By Tanya Terry


Schools will not close as a result of the tax proposals on the March 10 ballot for Flint Community Schools not passing, according to Flint Community Schools Superintendent Derrick Lopez. However, that does not mean there is not a dire need for the proposals to pass.

“This is no new tax increase for our citizens. We have a sinking fund that is up for renewal. That was four mills. That’s four dollars for every thousand dollars of house value,” Lopez said.

That sinking fund is to expire next year.

“We’ve asked the voters to renew that sinking fund millage-but to do divide it differently. So, 2.82 of those mills would go towards a fiscal security bond. So, we would actually reduce our loan to a legacy debt. Then, 1.18 mills would be for our sinking fund for things like cooling systems and roofs to meet the long term building needs within our district,” Lopez said.

If the fiscal stability bond passes, it will reduce the enhanced deficit elimination plan from 16 to seven years.

Lopez arrived to the Flint Community Schools district and the district found there is a structural budget of approximately $5.7 million, including approximately $2.1 million in legacy debt. As a result of a loan that was taken out in 2012 for $22 million, the district has approximately $2.1 million extracted off the top of its state aid before it is received.

“The rest of the deficit comes mostly from our special education costs,” Lopez said.

Approximately 22-25 percent of the district’s students receive special education services, compared to 15-16 percent before the Water Crisis, according to Lopez. The current number of children receiving special education services in the district is about double the state average. Many of the students receiving special education services have impulsive behaviors due to the lead exposure, escalating the need for monies to provide proper services to these children within the district.

Some of the district’s debt and deficit can be attributed to declining student enrollment. Over the last 10 years, the district has lost five to seven percent of students each year.

“We actually have lower birth rates. When we had the Water Crisis, that’s when we took our biggest hit with respect to student enrollment. Over the last few years we’ve lost 200-300 students a year because there is just a declining number of kids being born,” Lopez said.

In addition, he said the Flint Community Schools district serves only about one third of the students living within the city limits.

Lopez is hopeful enrollment will increase as new programming is implemented into the district.

“Parents feel they have a better choice when they can choose a charter school or choose a suburban district. In truth, our students are doing as well, if not better than the students that are in our charter schools.”

Lopez said the passing of the district’s proposal passes, it will allow the district to keep its class sizes small, maintain its wage increases for teachers and administrators, as well as maintain the district’s current 11 buildings. The internet will also be faster due to system upgrades.

“It really will help the district to stand on solid fiscal footing if the voters renew this millage,” Lopez said.

He said if voters want to make sure their property values are maintained and the city is able to grow back to where it needs to be, they should vote for Flint Community Schools’ proposal. To him, the proposal is about “putting first things first.”

Lopez said if the proposal does not pass, the district will go back to the voters, who have been very supportive in the pass, and tell their story again in May and November. If passed, the millage will begin in 2021.


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