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State releases final school district from financial receivership

Muskegon Heights High School (file photo)
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio

The state has officially released the Muskegon Heights school district from receivership, marking the end of oversight for all school districts and communities in the state.

"Today is a new day for the Muskegon Heights School District and the state of Michigan," Governor Whitmer said in a statement posted online Monday. "The efforts of the school district and community to identify problems and bring together the resources to solve complex financial challenges are to be commended. I am proud to say that we no longer have any school district or community under state oversight." 

Governor Rick Snyder appointed an emergency manager to run the Muskegon Heights district in 2012, after the school board asked the state to intervene because of financial troubles. The district later converted entirely to a charter district, and turned over operations to a private, for-profit charter management company, which ran the district’s schools until 2014.

After transforming again, into a self-managed charter district, Muskegon Heights schools were able to stabilize falling enrollment numbers, and improve finances. The district hasn’t had an emergency manager since 2016, and no school or district has had an emergency manager since 2018. But the Muskegon Heights district remained under state oversight through the Receivership Transition Advisory Board.

This spring, the receivership board voted to dissolve, saying the district’s financial situation had stabilized. Monday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer officially ended the receivership with the stroke of a pen.

"In reviewing the School District of Muskegon Heights’ achievements, it has made significant progress operating under the Receivership Transition Advisory Board’s (the Board) statutory oversight,” the governor wrote in her letter dissolving the board. “Moreover, financial conditions have been corrected in a sustainable fashion.”

The state still has a “partnership agreement” through the Michigan Department of Education to provide assistance to the district. And the district will continue to submit monthly financial reports to the state.


Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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