HIGHLAND PARK (WWJ) – The appointment of an emergency manager for the Highland Park School District has spurred formation of the Financial and Academic Reinvestment Commission.
State Senator Bert Johnson announced the committee’s formation on Monday.
“It is a commission made up of many stakeholders, the likes of whom have had their hands on the city of Highland Park for some time, but have not been able to steer in the proper direction, the school district,” Johnson said.
Commission member and Pastor David Bullock of Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church believes that citizens of Highland Park should be more involved in the decision-making process. He says that public policy shouldn’t be the product of government operating in isolation from other stakeholders in the community.
“Where are the parents in that discussion, where are the teachers, where are the pastors, where are the people who will be stuck with the long term problem of making sure that education makes sense?” Bullock said.
The city is currently facing a deficit of over $11 million and a severe drop in student enrollment. Johnson believes that a current proposal in Lansing could make the effort to fix these problems much more challenging.
“There is a proposal on the table to open up all districts to allow folks to go wherever they choose,” he said. “That might work in a lot of areas, but where you have huge disinvestment like you’ve seen in the city of Highland Park, that’s going to do a lot of damage.”
The commission plans to hold its first meeting, a closed-door session, this Friday. Public meetings will begin next week.
Highland Park Schools’ emergency manager, accountant Jack Martin, officially started work on Monday. (More on this here).