MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WOOD) - The newly formed Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System Board announced board members and the company that will run the new school district.
In a packed meeting, three board members were elected to the board -- Darryl Todd, Carmella Ealom and Arthur Scott. Scott, elected president, was not present at the meeting.
Board members announced that Atlanta-based Mosaica will run the new school district out of four buildings -- Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, Edgewood Elementary, Muskegon Heights Middle School and Muskegon Heights High School.
"I think we have to set aside any differences that we have -- any preconceived notions that we may have -- going forward and say we're going to go together hand-in-hand moving forward to make this a success," said new board member Ealom..
One big question brought up during the public comment portion of the inaugural meeting of the charter district was whether or not it will have a sports program. Representatives of Mosaica said there will be a sports program, and board members agreed everyone wants to encourage Tiger Pride through sports and the band program.
Laid off in May by Emergency Financial Manager Don Weatherspoon along with more than 150 other state employees -- including most of the district's teachers -- Leonard Vines is now in the position of applying for the job he lost.
"What can I say? They're doing the judging. I'm just here to listen to the verdict," said Vines, who was a gym teacher at Muskegon Heights for more than 15 years.
"Yes, I'm angry. But, you know, I guess they had to," Vines added. "It wasn't no picks and choose, it was just the whole district was laid off and I'm just one of them and it was an unfortunate thing but they're here to rescue us."
The new charter district plans to hire 125 employees for this upcoming school year -- 100 of them teachers.
While Weatherspoon has said former teachers will get preferential treatment, Mosaica representatives said that's not the main thing they're looking for.
"I think the priority is to get the best qualified teachers for these kids. That is our number one priority," said Gene Eidelman, co-founder of Mosaica.
Muskegon Heights Public Schools were routinely ranked among the lowest in the state, and Weatherspoon said it was running at a deficit of about $18,000 a day.
Mosaica reps said they plan to change that by doing things like making the school day an hour longer and having higher expectations for parents and students. And Weatherspoon said Mosaica was chosen in part for the safety it offered, which includes things like a camera in each classroom.
"The facilities here are incredible," said Eidelman. "There's no reason why this district cannot offer a much better education than was offered in the past, so I am very optimistic that we are going to be in excess of what the enrollment was here before because of all of the tools here."
Hiring for those positions in the new charter district began Monday after the first board meeting. Representatives said interviewing and hiring will continue until the beginning of the school year.
The board's next meeting will be next Monday, July 16 at 4 p.m. After that meeting, there will be a unity conference for parents and students at Muskegon Heights High School at 5:30 p.m.
In front of a festive downtown crowd at Rosa Parks Circle.
Two people were taken to the hospital after one vehicle crossed the center line, causing a head-on crash in Ada Township Friday night.
Michigan State Police has added eight new canine teams and four replacement teams that graduated from the MSP 2013 Basic Canine School Dec. 6.