By BOB OLIVER
HEIGHTS — The Westwood Community School District is expecting to absorb around 130 students from the recently dissolved Inkster Public Schools in the upcoming school year.
According to a map of the district on Westwood’s website, the district is expecting about 63 elementary, 17 middle and 48 high school students to be added to its schools when classes begin Sept. 3.
“We will be welcoming the new students and their families with open doors and open arms,” Westwood Supt. Sue Carnell said.
She added that busing should be “minimally affected” because of the close proximity of Inkster to Westwood, but she was not sure if the district would have to hire more faculty to accommodate the influx of students. Westwood currently has less than 2,700 students in the district.
Carnell also said the district is hosting two on-site enrollment opportunities for parents to sign up and learn more about the district. They are scheduled to be held at the Inkster administration building from 4 to 7 p.m.Thursday and Aug. 14.
Inkster Public Schools was dissolved by the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency on July 25, a three weeks after the implementation of Public Act 96 of 2013.
The Act, which became effective on July 2, gives the state superintendent of public instruction and state treasurer the ability to jointly decide to dissolve a school district if six criteria are not met, including the financial viability of the district, the number of students in the district (300 to 2,400) and whether a deficit elimination plan had been submitted to the state or if they had the capability to implement the plan and still meet the obligation of providing educational services.
Inkster, which had a budget deficit of about $15.8 million, is the first district in the state to be dissolved because of Act 96. Though officially dissolved, it will remain intact for taxation purposes until its existing debt is paid off before being erased completely.
Wayne RESA could have decided not to dissolve the district, but then the decision would have been left up to State Supt. Michael P. Flanagan, who was expected to dissolve the district. A release by Wayne RESA stated that they and “the affected school districts believe strongly that the reassignment of students should be handled by Wayne RESA and constituent districts” as opposed to Lansing.
The 2,200 students in the district will be divided between Westwood and three other nearby school districts, with the map of the Inkster district being cut into four pieces from the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Middlebelt Road.
Westwood will receive students who live north of Michigan Avenue and east of Middlebelt, while the remaining students will be sent to Romulus Community Schools, Taylor School District and Wayne-Westland Community Schools.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected])