In July 2007, when William Skilling became superintendent of Oxford Community Schools, the district was cutting budgets and educational programs. Oxford wasn’t alone. Michigan’s school enrollment had been declining for years, and tax revenues were beginning to flat-line. Cost pressures were on the rise. The state was in what a Mackinac Center analyst described as a “one-state recession.”
Yet at the end of August, Skilling went out on a limb. He told his staff that Michigan’s economic woes were “the greatest gift ever given this school district.”
His timing couldn’t have been worse. A few months later, the Great Recession set in. Its impact on Michigan was brutal. Home values plummeted, and much of the state’s auto industry headed for Chapter 11.
If 2007 was a “gift,” 2008 would be Christmas.