Education, Emergency Managers — July 30, 2015 at 7:06 am

Indiana school district to hire former Michigan Emergency Manager who increased debt by nearly $90 million in 18 months


Look out, Indiana! It’s coming right for you!

After having been beta tested in Michigan, the Emergency Manager model of “saving” “failing” municipalities from their own corruption, malfeasance, and ineptitude – or as is more often the case, the implosion of their manufacturing base and disinvestment – is being rolled out in the states of Indiana and New Jersey. In Indiana, Gary Public Schools has just hired a new Emergency Manager (or “fiscal manager” in their parlance) to run the cash-strapped school district. Who is the new overseer? None other than Jack Martin, former Emergency Manager of Highland Park schools and, more recently Detroit Public Schools.

The Gary School Board was, apparently, very impressed with Martin:

In the end, Jack Martin seemed the best fit for Gary, officials said.

“They have a proven track record and they come with a team of great experience,” said Clemons. He said Martin had served as emergency manager for the debt-ridden Detroit Public Schools and worked for schools in the District of Columbia and for the U.S. Department of Education.

Clemons said Gary, like Detroit, is battling a declining enrollment and the loss of students to charter schools.

“It’s a good fit for Gary,” said Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt, who said the new fiscal manager and his team will work out of the administrative center. “We were looking for someone who had the experience…” Pruitt said the new manager will lead the district to be more efficient with technology and will craft the district’s 2016 budget.

I have to say I really wonder is exactly what it is about Jack Martin that was so impressive to the Gary School Board. After all, he spent very little time in Highland Park schools – just five months – and during his short 18-month stint as the Emergency Manager of Detroit Public Schools, their debt shot up by nearly $90 million:

[T]he district’s ongoing deficit shot up [from roughly $82 million] to nearly $170 million under Martin — something the former emergency manager has attributed to several factors, including declining enrollment, a reduction in federal funding and a failed countywide school millage. The district had built expected revenue from the millage into its budget.

There are only a couple of explanations for the decision to hire Martin. Either the Gary School Board didn’t do their homework or they’re not truly interested in “saving” the public schools there. With the corporatist “school reform” push to privatize and profitize education across the United States of America, my money is on the latter.