Charter school district in Muskegon Heights to be operated under self-management plan

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MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Michigan — A charter school district in Muskegon Heights will operate under a self-management plan rather than be run by an outside management company, a change that's designed to bring more local control to the western Michigan community's schools, officials said.

The Muskegon Heights Public School Academy board on Monday night hired Alena Zachery-Ross as superintendent, approved an agreement to contract with the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District for financial management and picked an employment agency.

"It's an independent school district," The Muskegon Chronicle reported ( ) board President Arthur Scott said following the meeting. "We don't have a vendor to worry about."

Mosaica Education Inc. has served as the management company since the public schools were turned into charter schools. Mosaica, which has said it was losing money on the effort, plans to cease operations in Muskegon Heights this month.

Zachery-Ross, who previously was superintendent under Mosaica, will be the only direct employee of the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy. She said she knows the community wants to return to a traditional public school district, but that's not currently possible.

"Our community has such a strong voice, but they need to be heard," she said. "This is the next best opportunity for the people to be heard."

The charter school district was created in 2012 as a solution to debt that put Muskegon Heights Public Schools into financial emergency. The traditional public school district, Muskegon Heights Public Schools, still exists but only to pay off the debts it incurred.

The schools were turned into a charter district by a former state-appointed emergency manager, and the district still is overseen by an emergency manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder. That emergency manager, Greg Weatherspoon, was in the audience for Monday's meeting.

Information from: The Muskegon Chronicle,

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