By Charles Sercombe
The Hamtramck Public School District had nothing but good news to report at last week’s State of the District presentation.
Superintendent Tom Niczay and his staff went through a number of accomplishments and goals to about 50 residents, teachers and district employees who gathered at the Hamtramck High School Community Center.
Financially speaking, the district boasts of a $9.5 million budget surplus.
But the district’s Director of Finance, Sherry Lynem, warned that there is talk in state and federal government to slash school aid in the coming years, which would require dipping into that surplus. Plus, she said, the district’s student enrollment could dip at any point, which would further reduce the budget cushion.
Because of this financial threat hanging overhead, Lynem said the district has to “resist the urge to spend.”
“Things can change very quickly,” she added.
The district has enjoyed a yearly increase in student enrollment, partly as a result in recent years to an influx of refugees fleeing war-torn Yemen. There are a little over 3,000 students in the district.
Out of that total enrollment, over 2,000 of the students speak a foreign language.
That language barrier has long been a challenge to the district. School officials have beefed up the number of teachers – now standing at 25 — who specialize in teaching English.
The district also recently enrolled 150 students from a local charter school that closed down last summer. That closure prompted the district to purchase the building that housed the charter school for $3 million in cash.
The building, located on Hanley, is now called Tau Beta School and opened this past Monday.
Superintendent Niczay said another area the district has focused on is academic performance and meeting state performance requirements. He said district students have been outperforming other districts, and are not that far behind from students enrolled in Detroit’s most prestigious high school, Cass Tech.