Heights Public Schools Emergency Manager Details “Unfinished Business” For District

Andrew Trzaska | July 17, 2012

Just a week after the signing of a charter management contract with Mosaica Education, the emergency manager for Muskegon Heights Public School Academy gave the public a progress report prior to introducing the new charter board and representatives from the management company at a community meeting on Monday night.

Weatherspoon started Monday’s meeting by playing up several of the things the new charter district would have that Muskegon Heights Public Schools did not regularly have in the last few years: an on-site special education director, an on-site Title I director, increased school safety including security cameras. When discussing security also addressed discipline within the district for students, teachers and parents:

“[Improper] behavior is not going to be tolerated and from a parent’s perspective when their children come to school they will be in a safe learning environment,” said Weatherspoon.

Weatherspoon indicated that building repairs needed up front would be footed by Mosaica.

Sports will continue according to Weatherspoon, as many others including Mosaica president Gene Eidelman have stated:

“You said you want to maintain the tradition of sports. We can do that,” said Weatherspoon. “But you have to embrace a standard of high academic achievement.

Responding to a public comment regarding on the fast approaching football season, Weatherspoon indicated that even before Mosaica was picked he authorized the reconditioning of football equipment. He asked for patience from athletes in getting started, as the “district is in transition”.

Being with the public school district primarily for financial reasons, Weatherspoon also went through the public school district’s “unfinished business” in regards to its debt.  Restructuring debt and selling off surplus buildings and equipment are paramount.

The district remains over $12 million in debt, about $7 million of which is owed to the state and several million to individual creditors.  Largest unpaid debt is health insurance, followed by retirement obligations.  $1.4 million is still owed to former Muskegon Heights staff, not including summer school.

Weatherspoon indicated he would have an answer from the Michigan Department of Treasury around August 1 regarding restructuring of the district’s debt.

To cut costs, he also noted he intends to work with the City of Muskegon Heights to relocate some of the district’s central offices within city hall.

Approximately 150 people attended Monday’s community meeting including students, parents, media and staff.

Andrew Trzaska

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