Muskegon Heights school district released from state oversight

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

The Muskegon Heights school district shed state control on Monday after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released it from receivership, state officials announced.

The elected school board for the Michigan charter school district has regained control after reaching certain milestones in fiscal stability, state officials said, including ending its 2020 fiscal year with a general fund balance of $653,744, or 46% of revenues, and adding to its general fund balance for three consecutive years.

State officials said the district, which has about 645 students, is current on all required pension and other post-employment benefits and has continued compliance with bond and note obligations to date.

"The efforts of the school district and community to identify problems and bring together the resources to solve complex financial challenges are to be commended," Whitmer said in a statement. "I am proud to say that we no longer have any school district or community under state oversight."

A state oversight board was appointed in late 2016. Whitmer released the school district under the state's Local Financial Stability and Choice Act and dissolved its receivership transition advisory board. 

State officials said the state will continue to support the district to ensure a quality K-12 education is provided for its youth. The Michigan Department of Education has a partnership agreement with the school system to prioritize academic outcomes.

In December 2011, the district’s board of education voted to engage an emergency manager to address the fiscal challenges of the district. In January 2012, then Gov. Rick Snyder appointed a financial review team to examine the district’s finances.

The team concluded there was a financial emergency and an emergency manager was appointed.

In July 2012, the district entered into a charter agreement with the Muskegon Height Public Schools Academy System to operate the district’s K-12 education system.

The contract remains until long-term debts are paid off, state officials said.