Deal close to keep Highland Park kids in class; payless payday still likely

Published February 23, 2012 by the Detroit Free Press

A deal to keep Highland Park students in the classroom was near completion at the state Capitol on Thursday afternoon.

Legislative leaders said they had reached an agreement on a way to keep the schools open under new management, under the auspices of another school district, charter school or intermediate school district.

Highland Park current employees probably can’t avoid a payless payday Friday, but the measure should allow students to remain in Highland Park school buildings and under the tutelage of their current teachers if they wish to do so.

Both the House and Senate are expected to take up the legislation this afternoon and it could be on Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk before the end of the day.

Highland Park Schools came under state scrutiny in August, after multiple years of operating in a deficit. Although the district has shrunk from some 3,179 students in 2006 ago to 989 in January, spending per student has outstripped revenue and many of the district’s children are residents of Detroit.

On Jan. 27, Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Jack Martin, former chief financial officer for the U.S. Department of Education, to run the district. Several days later, a school board member filed a suit alleging that meetings held by the financial review team that recommended an emergency manager were in violation of the open meetings act.

Last Wednesday, a Lansing judge agreed with that assessment, invalidating Martin’s appointment. Lawyers on both sides are still trying to iron out the details of the ruling. In response, the state held a public meeting Wednesday for the financial review team to go over its findings again, and the team again recommended an emergency manager be placed over the district.

At the meeting, members of the financial review team said that without an emergency manager, the district may not make it through the school year.

Also read: ‘Distressed District’ bill to save Highland Park students passes House, needs Senate approval


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