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Education

Will new Legislature increase state intervention in financially troubled schools?

An empty classroom
Motown31
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Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
O.k., o.k., we know this one is empty, but some high school students in the Detroit Public Schools say their classroom are far from empty.

Gov. Rick Snyder is still interested in passing legislation to increase state intervention in schools with financial troubles.

The plan was one of Snyder’s education goals in 2014. It would increase reporting requirements for schools that risk going into budget deficit. It would also make it easier for the state to assign an emergency manager if districts don’t follow through on promises to get their books in order.

A set of companion bills would have also opened up more money in state grants and loans for eligible schools.

The legislation failed to pass during state lawmakers’ “lame-duck” session this month. That means it will have to be reintroduced in 2015. None of the sponsors of the main five-bill package will return to Lansing with the new Legislature in January.

“Gov. Snyder is certainly still supportive of the concept of an ‘early warning’ system for school districts potentially facing financial struggles,” said Dave Murray, a spokesperson for the governor.

“The idea is to have an opportunity for an early intervention, looking at factors such as enrollment projections, and work with the local district leaders to solve problems before financial emergencies exist.”

School groups have resisted the bills. They say the measure would create onerous reporting requirements on hundreds of schools across the state. They also worry about the provision that would make it easier for the state to appoint emergency managers in some situations.

Last year, the state dissolved the Buena Vista and Inkster school districts when they ran out of money.