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Muskegon Schools resolve financial emergency

Michael Gerstein The Detroit News

Lansing — Muskegon Heights School district will be returning to local control after the state said Friday the district’s financial emergency has been resolved.

The district slashed its debt $11.9 million to $2 million under state emergency management by June 30, marking the end of its financial emergency that began in April 2012.

“This is a new day for Muskegon Heights and the community is ready to move toward a brighter future,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a Friday statement. “These are important steps as we work together to transition back to local control in the district.”

Instead of an emergency manager, a state Receivership Transition Advisory Board was appointed Friday to work with local leaders as it transitions out of its financial emergency and back to “local control,” according to the state’s Department of Treasury.

That board will have the authority to make sure the district approves a balanced budget, the district pays debts on time, oversee mill renewals and ensure the district complies with contract conditions between the district and the charter school academy, said Danelle Gittus, spokeswoman for the state Treasury Department.

Snyder will appoint the members and the board will exist indefinitely, Gittus said.

Meanwhile, the district has negotiated a way to pay $2.3 million in past due retirement costs, according to the Department of Treasury.

A new state board overseeing the district will include officials representing state financial concerns, among other officials.

“I am very pleased to appoint such distinguished people to this important post,” Snyder said. “Each of these people cares deeply about the future of this school district and I’m certain they will work closely with the Board of Education and Superintendent to maintain a strong financial path.”

mgerstein@detroitnews.com