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Wayne-Westland Community Schools facing $17.7M deficit

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(The Center Square) – The Wayne-Westland School District received $26.3M to help its nearly 10,000 students across 16 schools recover from the COVID shutdown.

About two years later, the school is considering “all options” as it laid off workers and faces a nearly $18M deficit.

The district brought in $135 million of revenue but spent $152 million.

Superintendent John Dignan said in a Dec. 8 statement that “budget discrepancies were found” and “no misconduct occurred.”

The district said: “This was not an issue of deliberate miscalculation or misconduct. With the complexity of today’s budgets, which are made even more complex by the influx of various COVID funds, the discrepancies occurred within the budgeting processes rather than from actual transactions. The new finance team identified and isolated a number of problems that occurred during the budget cycles.”

The district said over four months, their fund balance has “significantly shifted” below 7%.

“What we are prepared to say is that we dare not fall below 5% as that would initiate a state takeover and we will do everything in our power to keep that from happening,” the district said in a statement.

The district laid off non-instructional positions including administrators and considered but declined to privatize transportation.

“Instead, we will attempt to work with the union to find a shared solution to the transportation problems. Over the past several weeks, the bargaining group has expressed a desire to collaborate with the district to identify ways to control costs and increase consistency. We look forward to continuing that discussion in hopes of determining a direction to resolve the ongoing concerns.”

Despite the deficit, the district says it will “remain steadfast in our dedication to providing the highest quality education to our students.”

“We are confident we can overcome these challenges and emerge stronger as a united educational community,” the district said.

In March, the district sold $36.7M in bonds for school remodeling, the final series of bonds voters approved in 2019 for a total of $158M bond for remodeling and refurnishing school buildings, athletic fields and other buildings.

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