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Financially-stricken Wayne-Westland school district to vote on budget scenarios next week

Options include cutting $10 million or $17 million, jobs could be on the line
Posted at 11:15 PM, Jun 10, 2024

WESTLAND, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Wayne-Westland Community Schools district called a special board meeting Monday to discuss financial options to get them out of their multimillion-dollar budget deficit and introduce their new acting superintendent after placing Superintendent John Dignan on leave last week.

The school board self-admittedly claiming not much action has been taken by the board since the deficit was found to fix the problem at the meeting.

“We talk about it, we keep saying we’re looking for a number, but we really haven’t done that much," Board Trustee Mark Neal said at the special meeting Monday.

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Wayne-Westland Community Schools Board Trustee Mark Neal speaks at a special board meeting discussing a $17.6 million budget deficit and the suspension of the district's superintendent. (June 10, 2024)

Meanwhile, parents and educators demand more information and more action, hoping job cuts aren't the conclusion the board comes to.

"Very scary," Michigan Education Association UniServ Director Tonya Karpinski said. "I think that's the feeling that the majority of the staff that ended this school year felt, and I'm very concerned how many will be returning."

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Tonya Karpinski, director of Michigan Education Association UniServ, talks about a $17.6 million budget deficit in Wayne-Westland Community Schools and the suspension of the district's superintendent. (June 10, 2024)

In the midst of their budget troubles, the board voted to place Dignan on administrative leave pending the outcome of further discussions.

"The Board has named Ms. Jennifer Curry, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, as the Acting Superintendent," Board President Bradley Gray wrote in an open-letter to the community. "The District’s leadership team will continue to work with the faculty and staff to ensure the positive completion of the school year for all our students, while remaining focused on the strategic priorities of our school district."

Curry addressed the community at the Monday meeting.

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Jennifer Curry, acting superintendent at Wayne-Westland Community Schools, speaks at a special board meeting discussing a $17.6 million budget deficit and the suspension of the district's superintendent. (June 10, 2024)

“I do appreciate everyone’s patience for coming out to listen to the budget and I look forward on collaborating on our next steps," she said.

The school district's assistant superintendent of business and finance, Julie Campbell, went over the general fund for this school year and possibilities of next, proposing six scenarios for the school district and what their options are to help get them out of their financial hardship.

Options include cutting $10 million or $17 million, or making no cuts at all, which would put them in the negatives financially once more.

Wayne-Westland Community Schools Board of Education gathered for a special board meeting Monday with their new Acting Superintendent Jennifer Curry
Wayne-Westland Community Schools Board of Education gathered for a special board meeting Monday with their new Acting Superintendent Jennifer Curry

However, the plan doesn't go over where those cuts would come from and how many jobs could be affected.

“There was nothing shown tonight that said where that will be coming from," Karpinski said.

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The board has a regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting next week Monday at 7 p.m., where board President Gray says the board will be voting on one of the scenarios proposed and they will be discussed more in full.