Muskegon Heights schools still financially insolvent despite Emergency Manager’s outsourcing to for-profit charter

Wait, Emergency Managers were supposed to solve these problems weren’t they???

In what can only be seen as an embarrassing repudiation of the Republican idea that Emergency Managers are capable of “fixing” financially-struggling schools, the Muskegon Heights schools system has had to borrow nearly a quarter million dollars from the state in order to make payroll. This was after Emergency Manager Gregory Weatherspoon turned the school system entirely over to Mosaica Education, Inc., a for-profit charter school corporation — or as Mosaica likes to call itself, a for-profit education management organization — a year and half ago.

The state is fronting $231,000 to the charter school district in Muskegon Heights so it can pay its employees. Teachers and staff didn’t get paid like they were supposed to on Monday.

The new Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System was set up in June 2012 when the old school district there went broke.

A state-appointed emergency manager created the PSA, which hired Mosaica, a charter school company, to run the school system. Now the new school system is running a deficit of its own.

An independent audit published last fall reports the district ended the fiscal year in June 2013 with a deficit of a little more than half a million dollars.

Not as profitable as they thought it would be, it appears. Still, I’m sure that Mosaica has cashed the taxpayer-funded checks it gets from the State of Michigan to run the schools. Funny how that works.

  • Patti

    They don’t know what they’re doing at this charter but of course they will still cash their million dollar check paid for by the citizens of Michigan. No one and I mean no one can explain how taking millions out of education to pay off Mosaic or any other private corporation is going to solve problems in education. But for Snyder it isn’t about solving the problem – it’s about taking care of his buddies in private industry. He could care less about the students in this state unless of course they are part of the 1%. Then of course they will get what they need and he will gladly raise taxes on the middle class and working poor to do it. He’ll smile while he’s doing it too. Michigan is in a downward spiral because of his policies. GOTV and send him packing.

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  • Chuck Fellows

    Could we focus on the real issues here. The state took over the financing of education in 1994. It takes funds to run a school. Who is running the “school” is a red herring politicians use to deflect attention from their inept and often harmful “school reform ” legislation. (Good intentions gone very, very bad)

    Learning takes place in a classroom between a teacher and a student
    and as long as professional academics, pundits and politicians continue
    to find fault and place blame on or ignore the input from those two groups learning will barely survive. We have a system of education designed over 200 years ago and “we” refuse to let it go. The Carnegie Unit of seat time measure for awarding credit is ridiculous and was rejected in 1991 by the Carnegie Foundation (why not require a demonstration of competencies to peers and professionals). The design of curriculum into silos of content delivered by an automaton (because the work rules teachers must comply with or be fired make them so) wastes real teacher, not to mention student, talent and creativity. Classroom behavioral expectations that mirror the 18th century manual on Prussian military discipline is just insane (and extremely dull as in mind numbing). Age grading tied to specific learning expectations per unit of seat time is a woefully ignorant practice when cognitive science has show us that learning style is infinitely variable (Learning is a messy process). These are just a few of the practices that are killing creativity in the classroom! (www.ted.com, Ken Robinson)

    We should focus our energies on supporting a learning journey for teachers and students at the classroom level. How to do this is known (Finland, Alberta Canada, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Mission Hill Schools, Big Picture Schools, Edvision Schools, Sudbury Valley Schools, Khanacademy.org, cnx.org, edutopia.org, etc, etc, etc) and going on around us every day. Yet we refuse to see, obsessing instead on failed policy and practice, seeking to place blame while our children’s futures become the victims of our unwillingness to see.

    The management structure is immaterial if the focus is on learning. In the instant case are the children learning? If yes then maybe the form of management being used should be replicated within traditional school administrations with the concurrence and support of the MDE. Of course that will require that the “professional traditionalists” let go of their personal paradigm of what “education” should look like.

    The “fiscal” problem is a financal management issue that our current crop of accountants in leadership are unable (or unwilling to due to ideology) to solve. If learning is occuring (you have to ask a student and listen to determine that) then their job is not to “emergency manage” but to figure out how to fund what works (for learning, not the satisfaction of would be reformers’ worldview).

    • judyms9

      Amen, amen, amen. All one has to do is look at how kids have learned everything they know by the time they get to school, whatever that age may be. Their learning styles reveal themselves during that skill-sponging period known as toddlership.

  • cattletracks

    Michigan cities are poised to fall like dominoes into hands of emergency financial managers. Snyder Holes aren’t just for roads anymore. Lincoln Park is about to bite the dust and fall into one.

    • judyms9

      That’s right. Starve cities of their revenue-sharing funds at the same time property tax revenue tanks, and soon you can have EM czars and czarinas running around everywhere. Perhaps the universities will add emergency municipal management to their curricula, and Snyder can call it job creation (for friends and family).

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