Clawson School Board Votes to Negotiate with Troy Schools for Annexation
(Drew Saunders, Nov. 18, 2019)
Clawson, Troy, MI – Clawson Public Schools made the decision to formally start negotiations for annexation with Troy Public Schools at their Nov. 18 board meeting.
Clawson’s budget is currently stable. However they are losing dozens of students per school year through school of choice and demographic changes. Administrators say the current budget projections are simply unsustainable, leaving the district to choose between either selling one of their buildings or merging with another district.
The board voted to give Superintendent Tim Wilson permission to begin negotiations on the merger with Troy, which will eventually have to be ultimately approved by voters in both districts.
“It’s one of the top school districts in the state of Michigan,” Superintendent Tim Wilson said. “We currently have a great relationship.”
Wilson told the board that he chose recommending an attempt to merge into Troy over Royal Oak – the other district suggested last month – because Royal Oak’s school buildings were too close to Clawson’s. Besides, Wilson said that Troy has been run very competently, has access to more technology, and is open to the non-negotiables that were laid out in the previous meeting. The non-negotiables established by the board last month include that Clawson be merged into another district whole, and not in pieces; including keeping the students in the same schools they are in now.
“The big issue for me is as I look down the road: what’s going to create the best opportunities for our kids?” Wilson said. “When you compare us and Troy Public Schools, I’ll put our teachers against Troy’s any day. The difference comes in when you start looking at what you can offer. The great resources they have allow them to do more in the classroom.”
Wilson said that he followed up with a suggestion that was made in a previous meeting, that he would reach out with the superintendents of Royal Oak and Troy public schools informally. He said that Royal Oak’s superintendent would be open to negotiations over a possible merger if the attempted merger with Troy does not work out.
Clawson schools found that taxes for their residents would go up by an estimated seventy-seven hundredths of one mill, while Troy’s taxes would remain the same. Although, that tax change is a preliminary estimate and is likely going to be subject to change in the negotiations that Wilson is now going to begin.
Negotiations will formally begin once the Troy superintendent presents the negotiation request to the Troy school board. Negotiations will begin if Troy’s school board agrees to begin talks.
Troy Public Schools Royal did not immediately respond to a response for comment, Monday night. Nor did Royal Oak Public Schools.
Clawson’s leaders are not putting all of their eggs in one basket. Wilson proposed reaching out to local businesses and philanthropic groups to raise the $5 to $7 million in case the merger doesn’t work out.
Wilson said that would give the district enough money to last through the next five years, where the end of their recent demographic study ends. Wilson said the study showed a tapering off of student loss, but there is no way to know if demographic trends would change drastically enough to be a permanent solution.
“I’m all for this option,” School board member Thomas Reed Jr. said. But he questioned whether Wilson should or could do this work on his own, while negotiating with Troy. “Your plate is gonna be pretty full.”
In the end, the school board decided to give the Superintendent the authority to form a committee to pursue this kind of fund raising, with the understanding that plan B is very much secondary to the merger negotiations.
Clawson School Board Meets to Weigh School District Options (Nov. 4, 2019)