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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

BAY CITY ACADEMY DEFICIT SAGA JUST GOT A WHOLE LOT WEIRDER: Deficit Elimination Plan Submitted Didn't Eliminate Deficit, And Wasn't Approved By The Board...But Even That Didn't Stop The State Aid Gusher From Continue To Flow Into Steven Ingersoll's Bank Account!

"No comment."

If that remark came from one of Bill Cosby's lawyers, I'd buy it.

But when it's uttered by both Craig Johnston, a Milford resident who's president of the Bay City Academy's Board of Directors, and Brian Lynch, the head of the wobbling charter school's education service provider, Mitten Educational Management, it gives me a good reason to believe the fix is in.

As I reported on Monday, December 28, the charter school founded by convicted felon Steven Ingersoll did submit a "Deficit Elimination Plan" on December 22. 

However, according to Jeff Kolb of the Michigan Department of Education's office of State Aid and School Finance (whose email is reproduced above), "the plan does not show the deficit eliminated."

So what is it exactly with the Bay City Times and its cautious, almost pussyfooting coverage of the Bay City Academy? 

And why keep throwing shade at the Essexville-Hampton Public Schools? That district finished the 2013-2014 school year in deficit of approximately $90,000. That deficit was projected to grow to nearly $600,000 the next year if nothing was done.

But, unlike the Bay City Academy, which actively concealed its ominous financial straits and only reacted after the Michigan Department of Education interceded in November and ordered the stumbling charter school to file a formal deficit elimination plan, Essexville-Hampton filed a timely plan that included concessions made by every single employee in the entire district.

Scratch the surface at the Bay City Times, and I'll bet there's an Ingersoll/Noss connection in the bunch somewhere!

As usual, the Bay City Times comes late to the party. If you thought the shrinking fishwrapper would at least show up with the deluxe shrimp tray equivalent of a news story, you'd be wrong.

Where do I start?

First, the piece reveals that although the Bay City Academy board ostensibly submitted a deficit elimination place, it was sent without its approval.

WTF?! 

There's a direct, and glaring, contradiction here...and I have proof!

Jeff Kolb stated in his December 28 email to me (shown above) that the MDE requested the Bay City Academy board submit another plan, because the plan it submitted on December 22 did not eliminate the stumbling charter school's $1.3 million dollar deficit.

But the Bay City Times story quotes Chad Urchike, identified as an MDE financial analyst, telling the reporter that "within the next 30 days, the state is going to review that plan and determine if it can pull the charter school out of the hole." (In its "who to call" State School Aid information directory, the MDE lists Urchike under "Budget Transparency Reporting". That's got to be a joke, right?)

So, what's really happening? 

Did the MDE, as Kolb stated in his December 28 email, request another plan from the Bay City Academy, or did the MDE effectively say (as Urchike implied) "we'll take your nearly-blank Excel spreadsheets and, because you sent us a plan-ish, you lucky fools won't have to miss any state aid payments"?



Well, if Steven Ingersoll's felony fraud conviction wasn't enough to shut it down, I don't know what will. 

No heat? Stripping the plumbing fixtures? Stealing all the bathroom doorknobs? Nah!

On a more serious note, the Michigan Department of Education's official Deficit District Requirements state the MDE can immediately withhold State School Aid payments from a district that submits a plan that "is missing required information (approved budget, spreadsheet detail, narrative, etc.)" or that doesn't eliminate the deficit within two years of the plan's inception. 

Why the department didn't do that is a mystery to me.


But that still doesn't explain the apathetic reactions of Craig Johnston and Brian Lynch.

Or could it be that the duo's feigned apathy is an insincere cover for what's really going on: an effort to conceal evidence of wrongdoing, incompetence or other, even more embarrassing, information? 

Johnston actually had the audacity to claim that the board never approved the plan because it "wasn't able to get a quorum of its members to vote on it" by the December 23 deadline.

In my opinion, that's just more insincere rhetoric (you can tell I'm trying not to use the word "bullshit" so much).

And here's the capper: Johnston said, "It would be inappropriate for me (the board president) to comment on the plan before the board (including me) has approved it." 

(My commentary is italicized.) 

And Brian Lynch?

Like a good capo, he practiced omerta...and kept his yap shut.

And if you don't believe me, read the story.  

Oh, and here's the section of Michigan's Revised School Code relating to deficits. You'll see that a Deficit Elimination Plan must be approved (and I quote) "by the board of the school district, intermediate school district, or public school academy".



19 comments:

  1. This is absolute insanity. How can this school get away with this? To top it all off, none of this is on NCA's website or BCA's.

    When they submit a DEP, they have to publicly display the plan and inform their employees as to what is going on. I'll bet there's fraud below the surface here with Lynch and Johnston. There's got to be to many connections and favors left over from Ingersoll with these guys and their attempting to cover their tracks up.

    How can MDE be ok with all of this crap? You'd think that the state would be all over this after failing two times to submit a plan and not acquiring approval from the "board" on their final submission.

    With a board president of BCA who lives in Milford and the "management company" owner of BCA who lives in Traverse City, I'm sure their both completely in touch with what their schools need......now that's the way to run a school! Lol

    I'm literally sitting here with my jaw dragging in the floor.

    This is a joke right?

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    1. It is insanity!

      However, according to the MDE, a deficit elimination plan has to be posted within 30 days of its approval by the Department of Education — and there's your Lynch/Johnston loophole.

      Lynch is operating the Bay City Academy the same way his father-in-law, Mark Noss, operates the Grand Traverse Academy: by proxy, given the authority by Steven Ingersoll (whether directly or indirectly) to act in his interest.

      With Brad Habermehl, president of the Grand Traverse Academy's board of directors, admitting under oath during Ingersoll's sentencing hearing on December 8 that "I and Steve are 2 of the five" in a formerly secret business deal, it's anyone's guess who the other two are. (Habermehl identified Lake Superior State University's former charter school head, Bruce Harger, as a partner in a proposed private school.)

      And even though Ingersoll was prohibited from having pre-trial contact with (among others) Noss and Craig Johnston, I'll bet he was using proxies to meet with his fellow racketeers.

      This is nothing less than organized crime, a crime ring that uses legitimate organizations to embezzle money.

      And that's not a joke.

      But those who don't like it can sue me.

      I'd love to depose each and every one of them!

      Delete
    2. You are right on, Miss Fortune. It is organized crime. Soon the criminal parties (all of them) should be coming down and their tragic empires too.

      Delete
    3. I can tell you with certainty that none of this had been talked about with the employees. Nothing had been mentioned in staff meetings about a deficit; they are still talking about the "wonderful" improvements in test scores and even more things that an over stretched staff could do. The only info that staff gets is a watered down half truth, if anything. They are told that they are doing great, but suggestions fall on deaf ears. The administration is doggedly continuing on its path of IVL, visual learning,multi age classrooms (which is really multi grade bc the teacher teaches both grade materials ) etc., despite overwhelming evidence of it not working. Morale is low (and BTL had even asked certain staff "why" and "how can we improve " which is BS because it is the same things OVER and OVER).

      No one shoveled snow because that was some thing that Bradley's crew took care of. The new cleaning crew is good, but only takes care of the inside. In the past, Staff has salted the sidewalks, if there is salt. Who will shovel probably hasn't even been thought of.

      Please keep reporting....it is the only way that current and former staff, and former parents, can find out the truth.They read, and even certain administration leaders have been spied reading it!

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    4. Ah yes, an eye-opening scam...like Integrated Visual Learning!

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  2. If there wasn't a quorum at the BCA Board meeting, and they couldn't approve the Deficit Reduction Plan, why did Johnston and Lynch even bother submitting it to the State Dept of Ed? Whom do they know in Lansing and in how many departments?

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    1. As the MDE financial analyst said, because the Bay City Academy submitted a plan, it won't miss out on any state aid payments.

      Delete
    2. Thank you, again, Miss Fortune. They are so clever as to slide by with any tactic and know every loophole. Soon, their loopholes will be closing and they'll find themselves in even bigger knots. Then, they'll lose everything they've stolen from the public.

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  3. There is not one real man out of the whole bunch.....

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  4. If you drove by the Bay City Academy today, even after 5 PM, their parking lot wasn't cleared of snow yet. Could it be they don't have the funds to pay someone? Or, maybe the firm hired to do the plowing of the parking lot and clearing the sidewalks of snow was not paid? Or, are they anticipating not opening in January?

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  5. Oh they will open in January unfortunately. They want to collect more money from the state and tax payers. Why isn't the state closing this place down? Why aren't these individuals being charged with all the crimes they are committing? To what extreme does this scenario need to reach before something is done? It is way beyond time! The Ingersoll scam still exists and all of these guys are part of it. Take em down feds!

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  6. I'd seriously give this place 1-2 months max before finances are seized. Lynch and Noss will eventually be swamped in a legal mess within a year. Maybe they should both claim Affluenza as their disease and flee to Mexico before sh$t hits the fan.

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    1. If not 1-2 months, the end of the school year in June should be the end. And not only the BCA, the GTA should be in deep financial trouble and litigation. Maybe a state take over or have them completely shut down. Funny that they boasted Glassner's 'Choice Theory' and Ingersoll's IVL curriculum. They made lots of bad choices in continuing to allow Ingersoll unchecked and unchallenged access to money and they'll all soon be reaping what they've sowed. Hasten the day.

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  7. I don't know how they could cut the deficit...if they asked staff to cut 6%of their salary (and they wouldnt ask, they would just do it because that's their MO, many would have to quit because they couldn't afford to work there. Less money coming in for your family, but still paying increasing out of pocket expenses for basics to do theverything job. What else could they cut? As it is, it's a skeleton crew. They would probably make teachers go back to cleaning their own rooms and taking out trash. They will probably go back to each staff meeting starting with "x was let go today, im sure they will be fine, now lets go back to business." (And it was like that the first year Farragut opened, right before and after the Schrocks were forced out. Every meeting for 2 months was like that.) To the former BCA parent that commented a few posts ago, that was the cloud that hung over them. It's still a cloud, and it's hard to put on a smile every day wondering what bomb is going to drop next, and having to tell parents that "no, I didn't know about x" and feeling upset for having a parent inform you of what's going on at your school, again. The kids are suffering and the staff feels like crap...it just needs to close.

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    1. Thanks for being so honest. Good people everywhere are rooting for any dedicated staff that are there. There are also, of course, some good parents who are kind to the teachers but are maybe hesitant to take their kids out (some out of loyalty to the good staff where their child has benefited at BCA and not at their regular public school). Anyway, just hang in there, do the best you can with what you are given and remember the best things you can give students are skills, a-can-do-it attitude, and to be their 'cheerleader' especially when things may not be well at home. You'll be rewarded for it some day and it will make your heart feel good now. We're all rooting for you!

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  8. I hoped Ingersoll would be sentenced before February, because fourth Friday count is on February 10. This count does not fund the 2015-2016 school year, it funds the first weeks of the 2016-2017 school year. School districts have already received all of the funding they will get for this school year. The only way BCA will close before June is if they completely deplete any money they have for an operational budget. Thanks to Mosaica in Muskegon Heights, we know if BCA gets to the point they can't make payroll, the state can bail them out. Yay, more of your tax dollars go to the Ingersoll gang!

    This is why it was important to submit a non-approved budget to the state before February 10 - their money for the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year is what they get with this next count day.

    As for the school closing down, the MDE doesn't have much authority over these schools. It's up to the authorizers and board to regulate the school and manager. We already know how that works with Ingersoll. The charter school law has to be changed at the very least, and eliminating charter schools would be for the best. They are a failed program under the control of corporate interests.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The Republican gamble of turning all our schools into some free market experiment on the backs of Michigan's future has failed. Mosaica failed, and so will the Bay City Academy.

      In the case of the Bay City Academy, the simple fact is that (according to Michigan's Revised School Code)a Deficit Elimination Plan must be approved by the board. It was not.

      In addition, as my source indicated, the BCA was told to try again.

      I disagree with the contention that the State of Michigan is simply going to shovel more money into the Ingersoll/Noss/Lynch rat hole.

      Someone has to be held responsible for the gross financial mismanagement, especially at the Bay City Academy. Any school that was the focus of systematic criminal plunder must be shuttered.

      The MDE has the ability to cut off funding at the Bay City Academy, and I do not believe the school will be propped up with more taxpayer money.

      At the BCA, due in part to the financial rapaciousness of Steven Ingersoll and his proxies, there is no virtually no money left after debt service and lease payments to Ingersoll. No amount of Michigan taxpayer pixie dust is going to fix this clusterf**k.

      In 2012, one of Governor Snyder toadies installed Mosaica to take over the ailing and cash strapped Muskegon Heights school system. After two years, even with a $1.4 million dollar emergency loan from the State of Michigan, Mosaica's contract was terminated.

      Mosaica refused to follow through with the district's deficit elimination plan, dumping it in the lap of the next company.

      The spring count, February 10, only represents 10 percent of the state funding, with the October 2016 fall count representing the lion's share (90 percent) of a school's allocation.

      While it's true that allocation shares have already been set for this year, there's really no correlation between the BCA's non-approved non-plan and the whatever money the school may get next year -- if anything.

      And as for the MDE, it should withhold state aid from the school.

      If it doesn't, it will make me wonder whether or not Lake Superior State University's former charter office head, Bruce Harger, is Steven Ingersoll's only "connected" covert business partner.

      I'm calling bullshit on the whole damn thing!

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  9. We all hope that the two days of scheduled sentencing hearings (January 5th and 26th) will be enough for the judge to deliver an appropriate monetary penalty and prison length. Maybe even a few more days will be needed, but it's coming closer to the end of the road for Ingersoll. Now, let's push for a serious investigation of LSSU's practices and state and federal scrutiny of the GTA and BCA to dry up their financial wells.

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    1. I agree completely, it is time to push for a serious investigation on LSSU(Lake Superior State University)connections and practices and time to dismantle the Noss/Ingersoll/Lynch and whomever else money pit. GTA and BCA both need to be investigated and closed down. Get these teachers and children out of this school and into a school system that actually cares about children. Pronto and stop any influx on money.

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