MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — The way Muskegon Heights Public Schools works is confusing by nature. It's largely because the district is run in a way like no other in the country.
The public school board is a school board with no schools. They do, however, receive state money to fund the schools.
The board gives that money to the charter, which operates the schools. The charter has its own separate board and handles the day-to-day.
The public school board acts as an authorizer, taking the place of businesses that often oversee charter schools for profit. Except the public school board doesn't make any profit.
This mess is because of the school board's debt. The board, filled by people no longer on it, mismanaged the district's money about a decade ago.
The state came in and took over, but the school board never dissolved. Instead, they've been working to pay down their debt and hope to one day regain control over the schools in Muskegon Heights.
But that won't happen until the roughly 37 million dollars they owe the state is paid back.
“Teachers were thinking like, 'Okay, well the district is going to get local control back, and all of the things are going to be taken away.' That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Muskegon Heights School Board President Trinell Scott said.
The truth, Trinell Scott, president of the public school board, says, is they want better communication from the charter.
But when the state board appointed to oversee the public board voted to dissolve itself, confusion began.
“Chaos erupted, because of different communications being sent down,” Scott said.
Trinell is hoping to calm the chaos. Essentially, day-to-day operations remain with the charter. The charter must now share documents with the school board, who is acting as their authorizer, explaining how they are spending their money allocated to them by the public board.
The public board is only granted the authority to do so if Governor Whitmer approves the state board's vote to dissolve.