Hazel Park School Administrators Resign, Oakland Schools Steps In

essentialTOPtempHazel Park School 934_8600_Gen-Online_Banners3Administrators Resign, Oakland Schools Steps In

(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 17, 2015)

With a deficit that grew from $2.5 million to nearly $8 million in the course of a year, the Hazel Park School Board has accepted the resignation of top administrators and asked Oakland Schools to step in.

On Monday, March 9, the Hazel Park Board of Education accepted the resignation of Superintendent Mr. James Meisinger. Mr. Meisinger was completing his fourth year as the superintendent and served the district in other capacities for 38 years.

Oakland Schools has come on board to provide a Business Director, a Human Resources Director, Candlewickshop_May2014and an Interim Superintendent. Dr. Rick Repicky, who served for ten years as Superintendent for Frasier Schools ending in 2010, will be leading the team as Oakland Schools works to solve the problems that have snowballed in the past few years.

According to the school board meeting minutes, On January 9 an audit report found several problems with the District’s accounting, including “Uniform Budgeting and Accounting Act, Act 2 of 1968; Financial Reporting Package Under the State Aid Act; Segregation of Cash in State Restricted Funds; Financial Reporting Package was not submitted to the State of Michigan Department of Education on or before November 15, 2014; Segregation of Cash; year end June 30, 2014, the General Fund’s total expenditures exceeded the total amended budgeted expenditures; timely reconciliations of cash account, nicholas-schrock-allstatefringe benefit expenditure and li abilities; Title I, Part A funds requested were greater than the expenditures; and state required funds were not kept separate from all other funding.”

Dr. Robert Moore of Oakland Schools expressed concerns as well, including “the seriousness of co-mingling funds,” the fact that the District was “substantially behind on payments to the Office of Retirement Services,” and that the ORS could withhold state aid if the delinquency was not addressed. Moore explained the factors that could trigger an Emergency Financial Manager and noted that Hazel Park had already done some of those things.

On Feb. 9 Chuck Hazekamp, Interim Chief Business Official stated that the Michigan Department of Education was very clear about the March 16th deadline, and noted that an extension had already been granted for the district’s Deficit Elimination Plan. Consultants from seed04_gallowayPlante Moran were organizing the cash flow analysis in hopes that the district could get supplemental state aid to pay the bills through August. The District had been holding checks to vendors “to guard the cash flow,” but Robert Moore of Oakland Schools told them that payments would need to go through in order to qualify for aid. The District requested $497,000 in funds to help them make it through August.

On Feb. 18 the board approved the contracting of a Business Manager through Oakland Schools. Responsibilities for this position include “assuring proper management of the District’s financial resources, but excluding grant management, grant compliance, and grant monitoring. Administer any contracts with third parties to provide Food Services, Student Transportation and Facility Operations and Maintenance. Provide Business and Grant accounting related services. These gardenfreshADresponsibilities are performed as needed and as appropriate to the situation. Maintain communications with respect to financial matters with the Superintendent.”

At the Feb 25 meeting, board members voted to negotiate with Ferndale Schools for transportation services, to lay off up to 90 members of the paraprofessional department in all categories, and to put out an RFP for privatization of secretarial services. They also approved an agreement with Oakland Schools to provide a temporary Human Resources Director.

Meisinger is continuing to work as a consultant for the District through the end of his contract. Repicky is serving as the Interim Superintendent of Hazel Park Schools effective Wednesday, ctechadMarch 11.

According to a statement by Hazel Park School Board President Rachel Noth, “Dr. Repicky will work with the Hazel Park Board of Education and administrative team to implement the deficit elimination plan and review district processes and procedures.”

In an emailed response to questions, Noth said “We have been given large task of cutting millions of dollars out of our budget and we are working on getting a revised deficit elimination plan to Lansing. We are in this deficit for many reasons and we as a board are taking all information and analysis to mend our district and to keep going forward for our children and community.”

Noth did not expound further on the “many reasons” for the deficit, though Repicky has promised a transparent process going forward as he and his team work to get the district back on course.

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For more information on Hazel Park Schools, see http://www.hazelpark.k12.mi.us/.

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