Clemens Community Schools, Pontiac School District, School District of the City of Hazel Park, Vanderbilt Area School District, Saginaw City School District, Bridgeport Spaulding Community School District, Perry Public Schools, Detroit Public Schools, Dearborn Heights School District #7, Hamtramck Public Schools, Redford Union Schools, River Rouge School District, Romulus Community Schools, Taylor School Distirct, Westwood Community School District, Ecorse Public School District, Southgate Community Schools, Madison-Carver Academy, Highland Park Public School Academy, HEART Academy• Projected to increase deficit: Albion Public Schools, Flint Community Schools, Pinckney Community Schools, Bedford Public Schools, Muskegon Public Schools, Oak Park School District, Bangor Public Schools, Lincoln Consolidated Schools• Projected to enter deficit: Battle Creek Montessori Academy, Iron Mountain Public Schools, South Lake Schools, Detroit Public Safety Academy LANSING, MI -- Fewer Michigan school districts are operating in deficit this year -- due to dissolution and consolidation -- and more are projected to emerge from budget deficits by the end of the school year.Michigan State Superintendent Mike Flanagan presented a quarterly deficit district update to a joint session of the house and senate appropriations committees on Thursday, highlighting improving budgets but warning that several others are poised to "head off the cliff." Forty-six districts are operating in a deficit this year, down from 50 at the end of last school year. Saginaw Buena Vista and Inkster were dissolved in response to financial emergencies and a debt-ridden Detroit charter school closed.The debate was sparked anew when a Michigan State University study claimed taxpayers would save 2 million by consolidating Michigan's 551 school districts into 83 single-county districts. Jennifer Granholm proposed spending million to "incentivize" districts to merge.
Sharif Shakrani, author of the study and senior scholar at MSU's Education Policy Center, wrote that his research "is based and builds on" a 2001 working paper on consolidations in a dozen rural New York districts between 19.
Research also suggests that impoverished regions in particular often benefit from smaller schools and districts, and they can suffer irreversible damage if consolidation occurs.
For these reasons, decisions to deconsolidate or consolidate districts are best made on a case-by-case basis.
John Yinger (left) and William Duncombe, both professors at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, have studied the economics of size in public education.
Photo by Candi Patterson/Center for Policy Research, Syracuse University The aid bonus from consolidation can be quite large.