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Wayne-Westland Community Schools board hold special meeting to discuss budget issues

Parents, staff demand answers amid budget issues at Wayne Westland Community Schools
Parents, staff demand answers amid budget issues at Wayne Westland Community Schools 02:50

WESTLAND, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) — The Wayne-Westland Community Schools district held a special board and budget meeting on Monday to address problems related to being nearly $30 million in debt and its superintendent on leave.

The school board didn't decide how to proceed with its budget, leaving parents and staff with more questions than answers.

"Quit stringing us along. We need answers. We need a solution. We don't want to go on guessing who's going to have a job, where are you going to take cuts from, are we closing buildings? What is happening? I think employees need to know that. I think parents need to know that," said incoming MEA Local 4 president Amy Parker.

"We've been calling for transparency, accountability, and clear communication not just with community members but with the board of education. Information has been withheld from the board for the past eight months, so they can't make proper decisions for our community, and they're here to represent us," said Wayne-Westland parent Jessica West.

Updated budget proposals for the next 12 months finally emerged during Monday evening's special school board meeting. The district's general fund is projected to be roughly $3.6 million at the end of this month, but without budget cuts or new revenue sources, 2025's general fund could be nearly $9 million short of breaking even.

Ousted board president David Cox says the district needs to find $12 million to $15 million to get back on track, suggesting budget cuts as the quickest way to do so.

"That means people are going to be moved, people are going to be laid off, and if we don't do it, it's going to happen anyway, so the only decision we really have is are we going to be the board who does it, or are we going to sit back and let the state do it for us," Cox said.

Another member of the board suggested ways to add revenue to avoid making harsh cuts.

"Definitely try to see if we can sell Marshall. We have a building there that we are trying to get off the market, we have transit busses that we need to sell. We need to see what we can sell off. Maybe even renting out the swimming pool to the cities of Wayne and Westland for the summer," said Wayne-Westland School board secretary Melandie Hines.

There are a few proposed strategies on how to move forward with the budget. One is to leave it as is and face a nearly $9 million deficit. The second is to cut $10 million, which would at least get them $1 million above water. The third is to cut $17 million, which would leave the budget with a little more than $8 million at the end of the 2025 school year. 

They can also save money by increasing enrollment, but several parents say the district is more likely to lose students than gain them.

A decision is expected at next week's regular school board meeting on June 17.

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