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State offers reprieve from closure for 38 schools

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The Highland Park school district is almost out of cash. The state is working on a solution to keep kids in school.

The state is giving 38 of Michigan’s worst-performing schools 60 days to come up with a turnaround plan, and avoid closure – at least for now.

Under the so-called "partnership model," schools would get support from the state, district and outside groups to help them address weak areas. 

The schools would have to meet benchmarks at 18-month intervals, or they could still face closure after three years.

The plans would have to be approved by the state Department of Education and the School Reform Office.

“Under a Partnership Agreement, the local district remains in total control of its schools with support from MDE and partners,” state Superintendent Brian Whiston wrote in a letter to the schools earlier this week.

Governor Rick Snyder ordered the department and the School Reform Office to come up with an alternative to closing at least some of the schools as soon as this year. That was after widespread opposition from families that send children to the schools and from state lawmakers.

“The letter that was sent is part of the process of getting SRO, MDE and the local districts to form a meaningful partnership to get kids educated appropriately,” wrote Snyder’s press secretary, Ari Adler. “This letter helps Superintendent Whiston spell out some parameters so everyone knows what’s happening going in.”

The governor’s budget recommendation for the upcoming fiscal year includes $3 million for the partnership model.


Sarah Hulett is Michigan Public's Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.
Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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