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Snyder signs bills to protect education of students in troubled school districts

Work group to identify early warning signs, stem crises

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

LANSING, Mich.  - Gov. Rick Snyder today signed bills to protect the education of students in troubled school districts and announced the creation of a work group to examine and better identify early warning signs of problems in districts.

"The overwhelming majority of Michigan's school districts are managed well, but a handful aren't.  When a school district no longer is able to do its job and educate our children, then we must be able to act quickly to get those students in other classrooms," the governor said.

The bills signed into law by the governor would allow the state Department of Education and the state Department of Treasury to work with local school officials to dissolve a school district when it no longer can operate because of financial viability.  That is shown when the district fails to submit or can't carry out a deficit reduction plan and does not have the financial resources to finish a school year.

Students from the dissolved district would be absorbed by neighboring school districts, which would receive increased per-pupil funding.

"We must be prepared to act quickly if a district isn't able to open in the fall or won't be able to operate for a full school year.  The parents and students in these districts need to know that we will be ready to protect the education of these students," Snyder said.

The bills, House Bills 4813 and 4815, were sponsored by Rep. Bill Rogers.  They now are Public Acts 96 and 97 of 2013.

The governor also announced today the creation of a broad-based work group to help identify early warning signs of school districts struggling with issues that likely would develop into serious financial problems.

The Advisory Work Group on Financial Accountability for Schools primarily will be comprised of representatives from educational organizations and groups and schools. 

"We're bringing together people from across the state. Their assignment is to identify the early signs that a district is having issues that could develop into serious problems and affect the education of students.  From there, we'll be able to work together and find tools and ways to help these kids and districts," the governor said.

Craig Ruff, the governor's special adviser for education, is inviting potential participants to join the advisory group and will facilitate its work.  The group is expected to begin meeting in mid- July and finish its work and recommendations by the beginning of the new school year, Sept. 3. Meetings will be open to media and public. Public comment will also be taken at