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Education

Plans to have charter operator run Muskegon Heights schools going slower than expected

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This sign is for sale at auction next week. It's one of many 'surplus assets' being liquidated at MHPS. Bids start at $5.

Students in Muskegon Heights Public Schools are still in limbo while the district's state-appointed emergency manager decides what charter school company will manage the system.

MHPS Emergency Manager Don Weatherspoon told parents in May he planned to turn the entire system over to a charter operator this fall. He also said he wanted to have a contract signed June 13.

There’s still no contract in place. That means parents don’t know yet if their kids will get bussed to class, if the district will offer athletics, AP classes, or band next school year.

Muskegon County’s intermediate school district says 169 MHPS students have applied to go to other schools nearby through the school of choice program.

The state allocates money based in part on how many students a district has enrolled. So, fewer students in September would mean less money for Muskegon Heights. Its deficit is already more than $12 million.

Weatherspoon continues to be unavailable for an interview. I say that in fairness; I assume he’s a busy guy. But if you’re curious, I’ve asked on and off for about two weeks. State officials say he might have time next week. Those officials from the state’s treasury department say they expect he’ll sign a contract with a charter operator “soon.”

Meanwhile, Weatherspoon is liquidating the district’s surplus assets. The Muskegon Chronicle and Mlive.com reported the first auction netted the district “more than $30,000.”

Another auction is set for Monday. It includes playground equipment, chalk and dry erase boards, a washer and dryer, a sewing machine, old band uniforms, world globes and a whole lot more.

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