Review Team to Examine Muskegon Heights Schools' Finances

Contact: Terry Stanton, (517) 335-2167

January 31, 2012

Preliminary Review Found "Probable Financial Stress" 

Governor Rick Snyder today appointed a financial review team to examine the Muskegon Heights School District’s finances under Public Act 4 of 2011, the Local Government and School District Financial Accountability Act.

Appointing a review team is the next step in the process following a preliminary review of the school district’s finances by the Michigan Department of Education. The MDE preliminary review, which was triggered by a Dec. 7 request from the Muskegon Heights School District, resulted in a finding of “probable financial stress” as a result of several issues, among them; the district has been in a deficit condition for three or more consecutive years; the district’s current year deficit of $8.5 million is greater than 15% of the district’s general fund revenues; the district has shown unsatisfactory progress in eliminating deficits; the district projects it will remain in a deficit condition through the 2015 fiscal year; and the district was $1.4 million in arrears to the Public School Employee Retirement System as of November, 2011.

“One of the primary goals of Public Act 4 is for the State to be able to more quickly identify and help address potential financial problems within a municipality or school district,” said Gov. Rick Snyder. “Based on information provided by the district, in addition to findings of the Department of Education’s preliminary review, it has become clear that the appropriate next step is the appointment of a financial review team. I know this group will conduct a thorough and fair review as expeditiously as possible.”

Review team members are:

Carol Wolenberg, deputy state superintendent (state superintendent’s designee)
Wolenberg has been the deputy superintendent for administration with the Michigan Department of Education since 1996. She provides executive direction for the department’s administrative and support functions, including budget, accounting, audit, state school aid, and school finance. Carol also serves as the department’s chief financial officer and emergency management coordinator. Wolenberg earned a bachelor’s degree in education, a master’s degree from Central Michigan University and has done post-graduate work in curriculum and administration at Michigan State University.

Tom Saxton, deputy state treasurer (state treasurer’s designee)
Saxton has been a deputy state treasurer since 2006. He currently oversees the State and Authority Finance Bureau. Prior to joining the Department of Treasury, Mr. Saxton worked at the Department of Management and Budget for more than 20 years. He served in various senior level positions that included responsibilities statewide for capital outlay financing, risk management, real estate, and facilities administration. Mr. Saxton holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing and an MBA, both from Michigan State University.

Doug Ringler, director, Office of Internal Audit Services in the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB director’s designee)
Ringler is the chief audit executive and director DTMB’s Office of Internal Audit Services, where he’s served since 2008. He previously worked in the state’s Office of Financial Management and Office of Auditor General. Ringler, who received a bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University, is a certified public accountant and certified internal auditor.

Dale Nesbary, president, Muskegon Community College (nominee of the speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives)
Nesbary is president of Muskegon Community College, a position he has held since 2009. Nesbary previously served as vice president and dean for academic affairs at Adrian College, after serving as director of the Master of Public Administration Program at Oakland University. Nesbary, who received a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, holds a master’s degree from Western Michigan University and a Ph.D. from Northeastern University.

John VanWyck, retired public affairs officer for GTE/Verizon/Frontier Communications in Muskegon (nominee of the Senate Majority Leader)
VanWyck spent more than 40 years working for GTE and its successor companies, primarily in the Muskegon area. He held a number of positions with the company, but spent the last 20 years as public affairs director, before announcing his retirement in November, 2011. VanWyck continues to host a Muskegon-area radio talk show (WKBZ AM) and remains active in numerous community organizations.

Frederick Headen, director of the Michigan Department of Treasury’s Local Government Services Bureau (representing state officials with relevant professional experience).
Headen has served with the Local Government Services Bureau position since 1997. He also served as acting chair of the State Tax Commission.  Prior to joining Treasury, he worked as legal counsel for the Citizens Research Council. He received a bachelor’s degree in political philosophy and a master’s degree in labor and industrial relations both from Michigan State University, and a law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing. Headen has been appointed to more than a dozen financial review teams by three different governors.

David Martell, executive director, Michigan School Business Officials Association (representing persons with relevant professional experience)
Martell has served as executive director of the Michigan School Business Officials since 2004. MSBO is a professional organization for school managers who work in the non-curricular aspects of a school district (finance, accounting, payroll, purchasing). Martell, a licensed CPA, was previously director of finance for Haslett Public Schools from 1994-2004. He received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Michigan State University.

Brom Stibitz, senior policy advisor in the Department of Treasury (representing state officials with relevant professional experience)
Before his senior policy advisory role, Stibitz worked as legislative director for House Speaker Andy Dillon and as appropriations coordinator and policy analyst for the House of Representatives. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Kalamazoo College and his MPA in state and local government from Northern Michigan University.

Under PA 4, a financial review team must reach one of three potential findings: No or mild financial stress exists in the unit of local government; severe financial stress exists in the unit of local government; or, a financial emergency exists in the unit of local government.

For more information about PA 4, visit the Local Government Fiscal Health page on the Department of Treasury’s Web site at