Emergency Managers, Highland Park — January 31, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Rainbow Push Detroit responds to closing of Highland Park school + Flint EM holds meetings


Let’s get right to work, shall we?

New Highland Park schools Emergency Manager Jack Martin got right to work yesterday, his first day on the job. He closed Barber Focus School.

Parents and students of Highland Park schools learned Monday evening how the newly appointed emergency manager will change the troubled district, starting with a closure that will leave only two schools.

The moves follow a Highland Park school board member asking a judge Monday to void the recommendations of a state-led financial review team that resulted in the appointment of Jack Martin.

Martin began work Monday saying Barber Focus School for K-8 children would close in the coming week for the rest of the school year and students would move to Henry Ford Academy.

About 32 people, including school board members, met at Barber, where Martin and Superintendent Edith Hightower announced the changes.

Barber students will be shuttled every morning and afternoon to Ford, Hightower said. “It’s going to be fast and furious that we’re going to gather up things and move the kids.”

Barber has 278 students enrolled, and Ford has 222 students enrolled but both buildings have a capacity for 800 students, Hightower said.

Rainbow Push Detroit is responding to the closing by having a public meeting this evening. From their Facebook page:

We will be having a meeting tonight regarind the Highland Park EM announcing the closing of Barber Focus School. Come out TONIGHT, JANUARY 31, 2012 AT 6P TO GREATER ST. MATTHEW BAPTIST CHURCH, 396 LABELLE, HIGHLAND PARK, MI 48203. This meeting is for all parents and citizens.

In other Emergency Manager news, Flint Emergency Manager Michael Brown is having his first public meeting since he took over the city government.

Two days from now, Flint emergency manager Michael Brown will meet with the public in his first open forum since taking office Dec. 1.

Brown scheduled neighborhood meetings in each of the city’s nine wards over the next few weeks, and the first will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at Freeman Elementary, 4001 Ogema Ave., in the city’s 9th Ward.

“It’s the first public meeting since he took office,” said city Council President Scott Kincaid, who represents the 9th Ward. “(The 9th Ward residents) care about the community, they care about the neighborhood. They want to know about public safety. They want to know their taxes aren’t being raised.”

Brown is expected to discuss his plan for turning the city’s finances around, as well as the results of the city’s recent audit and other financial challenges facing Flint.

“He’s going to talk about how we got where we are,” Kincaid said. “It didn’t just happen overnight.”

I’m actually glad to see this. Based on a conversation my wife had with Flint Mayor Dayne Walling yesterday, it appears that there is a greater effort to involve local community members from around Flint in the conversation about their path forward. This should be an essential part of any effort to solve the problems in our failing cities and I hope that the citizens of Flint take advantage of them to make their voices heard and to be part of the process.

If you are from Flint and attend one or more of these meetings, I would love to hear your take on your experience. Please contact me using the email link below my logo.