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Team recommends governor appoint emergency manager for Muskegon Heights schools

Muskegon Heights School Board
Muskegon Heights High School. The Muskegon Heights school board is asking for an emergency manager appointment.

A review team is recommending Governor Rick Snyder appoint an emergency manager to run the Muskegon Heights Public School district.

Unlike any other city or school district, the school board in Muskegon Heights voted for a state takeover.

Muskegon Heights Schools has run a deficit for at least six years in a row.

The review team found:

As previously noted, the School District was approximately $1.4 million in arrears to the Public SchoolEmployees Retirement System through November 2011. (Section 13(3)(b)(iii)). The School District had a general fund deficit of $8,472,543 as of June 30, 2011, which was not eliminated within the two-year period preceding the end of the fiscal year of the School District during which this Review Team report is received. (Section 13(3)(e)). The School District is projecting a cumulative general fund deficit of $9,442,788 for the current fiscal year which ends on June 30, 2012, which would exceed 5 percent of the $17,600,387 in budgeted revenues for the general fund.

 The team says there’s no real plan to address the mounting deficit.

Last December Muskegon Heights' superintendent Dana Bryant agreed to leave the district as the school board voted to ask the state for an emergency manager. Officials with Muskegon County's Intermediate School District have been running operations in the interim. 

Governor Snyder has ten days to act on the team’s recommendation.

"The decision is premature and made in the absence of current data and numbers," Muskegon Heights Education Association President Joy Robinson said in a release. “The panel looked at historic facts but did not examine the current steps being taken to right the district."

Emergency managers run two school districts and four cities in Michigan.

Lindsey Smith is Michigan Radio’s investigative reporter. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor and West Michigan Reporter.
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