MLive carries Kyle Feldscher's story.

"LANSING — The early financial warning legislation signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder Tuesday will affect 171 school districts and charter schools across the state of Michigan."

We knew Whitmore Lake was on the list.  What surprises is finding the Saline and Ann Arbor Public School Systems listed.  According to MLive's Kyle Feldscher,

"The Bills:
  • Require school districts, intermediate school districts and charter schools with reserve funds of less than 5 percent of their general fund budget to send their budgetary assumptions to the state.
  • Change the financial authority in charge of districts with deficit elimination plans from the state superintendent to the state treasurer.
  • Require districts going into deficit to tell the treasurer and state superintendent, send an amended budget to the state and intermediate school district, allow the Michigan Department of Education to withhold state school aid payments and allow the state superintendent to require deficit elimination plans to have an academic plan.
  • Create enhanced deficit elimination plans that would include assistance and guidance from treasury and other state departments, a financial operating plan, appointment of local auditor or inspector and a timeline for deficit elimination set out by the treasurer.
  • Require, by March 1 every year, that the treasurer must prepare a report of districts, ISDs and charter schools that have enhanced deficit elimination plans and their progress on them.
  • Allow the Treasury to withhold a portion or all of state school aid to entities with enhanced deficit elimination plans until a district submits their plan.
  • Allow the treasurer to declare a financial emergency and recommend the governor appoint a financial manager.
  • Allow school districts to choose between working with their intermediate school district to fix their financial problems or to work with the state.

Breakdown of General Fund balances vs revenues for the 171 school districts (11 in Washtenaw County) affected by the new law.

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At a Monday night meeting, the Dexter Board of Education rejected any further consideration of annexing the Whitmore Lake School System.  According to this report in the Dexter Leader,

"the district will entertain a possible reconsideration with a fresh start if the state creates financial incentives."

In the resolution killing further consideration Dexter's Board asked that the State of Michigan

"initiate financial incentives for district annexation to mitigate the financial barriers such as the differential in fund balance and bond debt and start-up costs (aligning curriculum and instructional materials, combining computer and phone systems, unifying employee contracts, licensing and legal fees, administrative support, etc.) associated with merging school districts."

The magnitude of the dealbreaker gets spelled out in this Ann Arbor News report.

"The two Washtenaw County districts have a large disparity in their respective fund balances, Wendorf said. While Dexter has about $6 million in the bank, or nearly 15 percent of its operating budget, Whitmore Lake schools has about $25,000 in the bank, which is less than 1 percent of its operating budget."

In a slightly related story:

MLive's Lansing Bureau reports that the Michigan State Senate on March 25th voted 29-8 to approve paying off the $725,000 debt of a dissolved Saginaw area school system.

"Legislation State Sen. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth, introduced earlier this month to pay off the dissolved Buena Vista School District's debt has passed the Senate. 

Horn introduced Senate Bill 173 on March 3. It was recommended for approval by the Senate Appropriations Committee after it considered the bill at its March 11 meeting.

"It's time for a Marshall Plan, in effect, for our kids in these rural areas and these big cities," [State School Superintendent Mike] Flanagan said, referring to the Cold War era policy of the federal government supporting any government willing to fight against communism. "And, I think the at-risk funding is a way to address that."

Click here to read the rest of Kyle Feldscher's MLive story

- from Kyle Feldscher's story at MLive,

'LANSING -- Gov. Rick Snyder proposed an across the board increase of $75 per pupil for Michigan school districts in his budget, but the plan might face blowback from lawmakers in the Legislature.

 

Snyder's plan, which would be an increase of $108 million overall, deviates from the so-called 2X formula that has been in place for many years. That formula means poorer districts get twice the increase richer districts get and seeks to shrink the funding gap between the richest and poorest districts in the state, currently $848 per student.'

Read the rest of Kyle Feldscher's story

WLPS Announces Formation of a Committee to Explore Annexation by the Dexter Community School System, - WLPS Press Release, 12/9/2014

On December 8, 2014, a joint committee meeting was held between the Whitmore Lake Public Schools (WLPS) Board of Education Ad Hoc Committee on Annexation and the Dexter Community Schools (DCS) Board of Education Ad Hoc Committee to begin researching the possibility of DCS annexing WLPS.  At that meeting, both committees discussed the background leading up to this point.  In particular, in early 2014, DCS was contacted by local and state entities about the possibility of annexing WLPS.  At that time, WLPS decided to pursue annexation with Ann Arbor Public Schools.  Ann Arbor defeated the proposal in November 2014.  The debt issue is a different scenario regarding an Ann Arbor annexation of WLPS than a Dexter annexation of WLPS.  In particular, if DCS annexed WLPS, state law does not require a mutual assumption of debt.  Simply put, DCS and WLPS residents would not see a change in their property taxes, unlike the scenario in Ann Arbor. 

Whitmore Lake, Dexter schools exploring annexation possibilities - Lindsay Knake, MLive, 12/8/2014

"The announcement comes a month after Ann Arbor Public Schools voters rejected a ballot proposal for Ann Arbor schools to annex neighboring Whitmore Lake. The proposal included Ann Arbor taking on Whitmore Lake's $60 million debt.

 

However, if Dexter annexes Whitmore Lake schools, Dexter taxpayers would not assume Whitmore Lake's debt because Dexter residents do not pay a hold harmless millage, according to the press release."

Why Dexter wouldn't assume Whitmore Lake's debt in potential school district annexation - Lindsay Knake, MLive, 12/30/2014

"Dexter Community Schools doesn't have hold harmless or sinking fund millages, unlike Ann Arbor schools. In order for Whitmore Lake schools taxpayers to fund the Ann Arbor schools millages, the two districts would have had to assume one another's debts.

 

Whitmore Lake schools taxpayers are currently paying the debts through 7.96-mills debt tax and will continue to do so regardless of potential annexation.  Next year, Whitmore Lake taxpayers will pay 9.86 mills for the debt levy."

Potential Dexter-Whitmore Lake annexation: 5 things to know - Lindsay Knake, MLive, 12/17/2015

1. Whitmore Lake schools residents would vote on annexation

If the Dexter and Whitmore Lake school boards decide to move forward with annexation, the Dexter board would vote to annex Whitmore Lake schools. Whitmore Lake-area voters would then decide whether to accept the annexation, Washtenaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Scott Menzel said.'

Dexter schools residents seek vote on potential Whitmore Lake annexation - Lindsay Knake, MLive, 1/21/2015

"At the end of the day, 14,700 people should have the ability to say yes or no," said Shawn Letwin, a Webster Township resident.

 

He's a member of a group Dexter residents have formed called "No Annexation Without Representation."

Dexter-Whitmore Lake annexation: Rep. Gretchen Driskell considers bill to allow community vote - Lindsay Knake, MLive, 1/23/2015

'Driskell's staff is looking at the law related to annexation, which currently states only the annexing school board and voters in the district being annexed will vote on a proposal.

 

The Dexter school board also is researching the possibility of a vote, said President Michael Wendorf earlier this week.'

Dexter-Whitmore Lake annexation exploration process could take months - Lindsay Knake, MLive, 2/4/2015

'The Dexter-Whitmore Lake annexation exploration process will likely extend into the summer, according to officials from both school districts.'

Dexter, Whitmore Lake school district boundaries wouldn't change with annexation - Lindsay Knake, MLive, 2/10/2015

'On Monday, Feb. 9, the Dexter Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a guiding principal for the district to keep the districts' geographic boundaries the same.

 

"It is not intention of this board to move students from their current neighborhood schools," the resolution stated.'

Annexation incentives for school districts inadequate, Whitmore Lake school board tells state - Lindsay Knake, MLive, February 28, 2015

Dexter receives $7,569 per student this year and Whitmore Lake receives $7,126 per student. With annexation, the districts would have a combined foundation allowance based on student population plus $100 per student.  "The $100 per pupil funding bump is not enough," said WLPS school board president Ken Dignan, "It is not enough to make it economically beneficial to both districts to move forward."

 

Dignan also said there is not a good process for restructuring debt and the mutual assumption of debt.

 

In the past decade, Whitmore Lake schools' enrollment decreased by 27 percent.

Dexter Community Schools adhoc Annexation Issue FAQ

Update (February 10, 2015):
The Ad Hoc Annexation Committee has adopted a phased approach to researching annexation.  They are currently in Phase I of the 4-phase process. The purpose of Phase I is to gather and analyze readily available information, identify "hot button" issues, and to identify preliminary risks and benefits based upon what is currently known.  This phase is expected to conclude by the end of February.  The committee will then share its findings with the Board of Education and the Board will decide if the committee should continue to the next phase of research.

The FAQ's Quick Links:

        FAQ January 29 

Notes from the Superintendent
          Ad Hoc Update January 22
          Ad Hoc Update January 13
          Press Release December 8