Governor Snyder Declares Muskegon Heights Public Schools Emergency, Appointment After 4/18

Andrew Trzaska | April 10, 2012

Governor Rick Snyder has agreed with Muskegon Heights Public Schools’ financial review team that a financial emergency does indeed exist in the district. The district is now on track to receive an emergency financial manager by the end of the month.

[View Press Release: State of Michigan Governor MHPS Determination]

“Ensuring a quality education for students in Muskegon Heights is our top priority,” Snyder said in a press release sent Tuesday afternoon.  “The appointment of an Emergency Manager is the logical next step in restoring financial
stability to the troubled district, and in fact, is a step that has been requested by members of the
Muskegon Heights Board of Education.”

The State cited the doubling of the district’s deficit from 2010 to 2011, a 5+ year negative fund balance, 34% decrease in enrollment and further money owed to the state starting in February of 2012 as a perfect storm that the district could not overcome on its own.

What’s next? Muskegon Heights can request a hearing with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Mike Flanagan. If a hearing is requested, it will happen on April 18, 2012, at 10:00 A.M. in Lansing.

After that hearing, the Governor will appoint an emergency financial manager. Who that might be is not apparent at this time: Marios Demetriou, deputy superintendent of the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District, was requested for the emergency financial manager job by the board of education, but he has expressed he does not want the job.

Additionally, a petition drive to suspend Public Act 4, the law that empowers emergency financial managers, is underway, which puts it on a collision course with the Muskegon Heights Public Schools appointment. If those petitioning receive enough signatures the law would be suspended until November, where its repeal may be put on the election day ballot. On Tuesday, questions have arisen if those petitions are even valid, meaning the petitions that would cause this injunction may fail to do as intended.

Comments from the MAISD or the Muskegon Heights Board of Education were not available at publication time.

View the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District special Muskegon Heights page for further budget, Public Act 4 and other related information.

Stay tuned to 103.7 The Beat for further updates.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst