The Long Road To Labor Day: How The Emergency Financial Manager’s Charter Plan Is Set To Roll Out

Andrew Trzaska | May 30, 2012

[Read about the rationale for the Muskegon Heights charter plan here]

[Read further details about how the charter plan will pay down the district’s debt]

[View documentation from Wednesday’s community presentation here]

To bring the planned Muskegon Heights Charter School Academy System to fruition, a substantial series of steps will need to be completed in the next three months.  With a plan already proposed, a request for proposals have been solicited to private charter management companies.  Applications from these companies will be received by June 1.

Once a company is selected, Dr. Weatherspoon, who will directly oversee the management company, will appoint a three-member charter board.   The publicly elected Board of Education will serve as an advisory role to Weatherspoon and the charter board.

Once a contract is signed with a company, the plan will be submitted to the state superintendent and treasury for final approval. At that time the charter school management company will hire all staff and enroll all students.

While most of the focus of the meeting remained on the next 3 months, multiple questions of the long term implications of the plan were posed by members of the community Wednesday.

Will a new governor terminate the proposed plan?  Dr. Weatherspoon indicated he serves “at the pleasure of the governor”, not a specific office-holder, meaning the next governor could keep him, or even Governor Snyder could remove him at a moment’s notice.

Public control can be regained from the charter board and emergency financial manager once the district’s debt is completely paid down.

Regarding the continuation of sports, Dr. Weatherspoon indicated that students who transferred out of the district would be subject to sitting out one semester by state rules.  The complexity of changing enrollment from Muskegon Heights Public Schools to the Muskegon Heights Charter Academy System may not be subject to the one semester rule. If transfer of control would constitute a mass transfer of students, the district would effectively have to sit out its whole population from athletics.

Weatherspoon explained why he thinks this won’t be an issue on Wednesday. By his own interpretation, the transfer rule is negated by residency within the district. Since the students remain geographical residents of the new charter district, the transfer rule could be waived.

Andrew Trzaska

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