HIGHLAND PARK (WWJ) – We now know who will be the emergency manager for Highland Park Schools.
Officials with the Department of Treasury and Education Friday announced that Jack Martin, a CPA and the former CFO for the U.S. Department of Education, will be taking the job.
Early this month, a state financial review team recommended an emergency manager be appointed after determining the district is in a financial emergency. Then, last week, Governor Rick Snyder wrote to parents, saying the district is in jeopardy of closing next month without immediate action.
Martin said the first way he hopes to implement change is by meeting the community.
“I plan to have pretty much an open door to parents so that they can voice their concerns, they can give me their suggestions,” he said. “And I’ll be happy to look at anything that anyone has to offer that’s gonna help educate the kids and keep the district moving smoothly.”
Highland Park schools currently face an $11.3 budget deficit while student enrollment continues to plummet, down 58-percent over the past five years.
Martin said that, in the low run, the district must find ways to address the dwindling numbers.
“Many of our older cities are losing population. Younger folks are moving out,” he said. “So, that’s an issue that I’ll be taking up with the superintendent and with elected officials to try to get our arms around a good forecast of what the student population will be next school year.”
Meanwhile, Martin said he will continue to sit on the state financial review team that’s looking at the city of Detroit while serving in this new role, adding that he does not consider this a conflict of interest.
As enacted, a new state law allows the governor to take over a local government or school district by appointing an emergency manager to assume the authority and responsibility of locally elected officials. It includes the power to terminate collective bargaining agreements and even dissolve a unit of government. Some have called the new law unconstitutional.