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Millions on the line: Mott Foundation president hopes to resolve conflict with Flint school board

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 5:52 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - The clock is ticking.

Flint Community Schools and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation have two weeks to figure out their differences, as critical funding for programs is on the line. The Mott Foundation wants to work together for the sake of the kids in Flint.

The board decided to censor Superintendent Anita Steward in June from talking to organizations like the Mott Foundation without the board president present. On Tuesday, the Mott Foundation froze millions of dollars in grants because the communication just stopped.

On Thursday, Mott Foundation President and CEO Ridgway White said their hands are tied. If communication doesn’t restart, the kids will be the ones to suffer.

“We’ve got to figure out how to come together,” said White.

Nearly $9 million worth of grants from the Mott Foundation are on the line and Flint Community Schools board members have two weeks to decide if they want to play ball. In Wednesday night’s meeting, community members were up in arms because programs that help their kids disappear without that funding.

Board President Carol McIntosh said it all stems from a phone call.

“When I did respond to him and when I did speak to him, he was very rude, and he was very disrespectful,” she said. “He cannot talk to me like that. I do not have to put up with it. I won’t put up with it. I pay the cellphone bill and if I decide I don’t want to talk today to anybody, I will not be talking to anybody.”

However, not talking is only making the clock tick faster. White said McIntosh’s comment and the bickering are only hurting the kids.

“Us adults, we’ve got to get our stuff together so that kids don’t suffer,” said White.

He’s willing to answer the call when the board is ready to talk.

“I don’t like being where we’re at,” White said. “We should never have to freeze funding for programs that we helped invent, collaboratively with the schools and other partners. These programs are important to us, they’re important to the Mott Foundation and they’re important to the community.”

ABC12 News reached out to McIntosh and other school board members. Board member Adrian Walker said it’s against the board policy to talk, but board member Diana Wright said she tired of a couple board members keeping Flint schools from moving forward.

Wright is ready to talk to the Mott Foundation for the sake of the children. McIntosh did not return ABC12′s email or call after the board meeting on Wednesday.

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