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Highland Park could go back under state oversight; Ecorse schools get a reprieve

A state financial review board gave one school district a reprieve, but steered the city of Highland Park back toward a state takeover.  Highland Park has been under some form of state receivership since 2002. The new review was required by the new emergency manager law.

Highland Park Mayor Deandre Windom says he still hopes to convince the state to accept his city’s deficit elimination plan.

“We’re going to sit down and explore our options and make sure we’re all  of one accord and make sure the citizens of Highland Park are aware of us moving forward,” Windom said.

The next step is for another team of financial experts to conduct a deeper review of the city’s finances before making its recommendation to Governor Rick Snyder.

The board also gave the Ecorse school district more time to get its finances in order. The board said the district has made acceptable progress in cutting costs and managing its deficit.

Ecorse Superintendent Thomas Parker is the Ecorse superintendent says student enrollments have stabilized, and the district has made difficult budget cuts. But he says there’s still more work to be done.

“We have to increase revenue and make ourselves an organization that parents and kids want to be a part of, and, honestly, we have to reduce expenditures as it relates to teacher staff, support staff, and any programs that are non-essential,” Parker said.

The board will review Royal Oak Charter Township’s finances later this week. Michigan has eight cities and school districts currently under emergency management.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.