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State officials set to expand 'turnaround district' for struggling schools

Mumford High School set to close
Mumford High School, one of the 15 EAA schools in Detroit.

It appears a controversial state-run authority that oversees struggling schools in Michigan will be expanded.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan announced Tuesday that he plans to add up to nine schools to the Education Achievement Authority.

Meanwhile, the state Senate could vote as early as Wednesday on legislation that would increase the EAA’s ability to expand statewide. Republicans in the Senate have been working through some concerns they have about expanding the district.

“From our perspective, it strictly is about, how does the EAA impact the school districts, the schools, the building, the children in our senators’ districts?” said Amber McCann, spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe).

But many Democrats and groups opposed to the EAA are blasting plans to expand it.

“They’re sort of doubling-down on this very, very risky bet. And it’s really reckless,” said state Rep. Ellen Lipton (D-Huntington Woods).

Lipton points to a recent report that shows the EAA has lost almost a quarter of its students since last school year.

“Their reaction to this massive exodus is to say, ‘we’re going to open more, and we’re going to open them outside of Detroit,’ maybe in places where people have never heard of the EAA,” she said.

Superintendent Flanagan has not yet said which schools could be added to the EAA or where they are located.

Governor Rick Snyder and other supporters say students in the district are showing significant improvement.