Muskegon Heights Charter Board Signs Management Contract

Andrew Trzaska | July 9, 2012

The first meeting of the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy Board saw the full formation of the new academy board as well as the official signing of a contract by Mosaica Education, the charter school management company selected to run Muskegon Heights Public Schools.

Two of the three charter board members recently appointed by emergency manager Dr. Donald Weatherspoon were present at Tuesday’s meeting: Carmella Ealom and Darryl Todd.  The third appointed board member, Arthur Scott, was not present at Monday’s meeting.  Also present was president and founder of Mosaica Education, Gene Edelman.

By vote of the two members present, Scott was selected President in his absence by the other two members, with Ealom as Secretary and Todd as Treasurer. Since the board has only three members but its bylaws indicated four positions, the President and Vice President were melded into one position held by Scott.

The swift pace of the meeting led to the quick explanation and ratification of the lease and management contracts between the charter board and Mosaica Education.

According to the lease agreement, Martin Luther King Elementary, Edgewood Elementary, Muskegon Heights Middle School and Muskegon Heights High School are part of the lease agreement. Within the agreement, the charter board will oversee and pay for maintenance of the buildings.

Many other procedures were nailed down at Monday’s meeting. Regular public board meetings have been set for 6 p.m. on the third Monday of each month at the Board of Education building, with special meetings able to be called outside of that schedule. The board did opt to move up next Monday meeting to 4 p.m.  The board also announced a district unity meeting for all parents, students and the public at 5:30 p.m. next Monday at the high school.

Public notices are required by law to be posted in some form of media, and the board designated the Muskegon Chronicle as the designated location for those notices.

Chase Bank will be the depository for the district, and board president Scott will function as the “CEO” of the district for financial and disclosure reasons.

The board also authorized the district to apply for MHSAA membership, the first step toward renewed athletic recognition by districts around the state.

Weatherspoon gave three reasons for picking Mosaica over the Leona Group, the other company vying for management of the district: “Curriculum, commitment to working within the community, and commitment to a charter K-12 system.”

The members of the academy board stressed after Tuesday’s meeting that the choice of the management company was made based on the better educational quality of Mosaica over The Leona Group, former manager of the now-defunct Tri-Valley Academy:

“I think change is hard no matter what,” said Ealom. “At the end of the day it’s about education first.”

Edelman alluded to coming changes within the district’s norms:

“There’s going to be new expectations of positive behavior in this school.”

Eidelman stated that he felt the “game is on” with other districts, claiming the new charter system would provide a better product than neighboring districts. He cited “foreign language starting in kindergarten, longer days and a longer year” as reasons for his claims.

Public comments at Monday’s meeting included inquiries about the hiring process going forward.  The charter board does not directly handle hiring, and therefore Eidelman fielded the question.

Eidelman indicated they would be looking to hire “125 people, including about 100 teachers.”  He stated that a Mosaica representative would be available at the board of education building starting tomorrow morning until the start of the school year, and would be ready to start the hiring process immediately.

Questions about the future of the district’s band and athletics were met with positive overtures from Eidelman: “We’re definitely committed to sports, the band and academics…  It will be a school of choice.”

When asked if clubs, organizations and events associated with the public school district previously would be continued under Mosaica’s management:

“We’ll welcome you back,” said Eidelman.  “Mosaica is totally respectful of the tradition in this community, and we will respect any organizations that have been here before, and we encourage you to bring new.”

On the topic of uniforms, Todd stated that the decision would be made at next Monday’s board meeting.

Eidelman indicated that the district’s web site going forward would be located at mhtigers.org, urging parents to visit the site for information.

Andrew Trzaska

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