DALLAS -- Michigan's Muskegon Heights School District is ready to transition out of emergency management after shaving nearly $10 million from its deficit in the four years it's been under state oversight.

The district came under state emergency management in 2012 after its deficit ballooned to nearly $12 million will now transition to local control. A state appointed receivership transition advisory board was named Friday and it will oversee the transition to local control, according to a press release from the state.

"This is a new day for Muskegon Heights and the community is ready to move toward a brighter future. These are important steps as we work together to transition back to local control in the district," said Gov. Rick Snyder in a press release.

Steve Schiller, the last emergency manager appointed to the district, submitted his determination to Snyder last week finding that the emergency has been resolved, as required under state oversight rules. Schiller issued his final order as emergency manager outlining responsibilities of the elected officials and their collaboration and cooperation with the RTAB, according to the statement.

In the orders, Schiller establishes a two-year budget and outlines guidelines for the public school board to appoint the charter academy board – a responsibility that had been overseen by the emergency manager. It ensures the continued operation of the public school academy.

The RTAB will require the school board to provide monthly budget updates, including cash flow, and will review proposed budgets of the school board. It will also review requests for debt issues and will ensure that the school board remains in compliance with the district's deficit elimination plan.

The board of education will need approval from the RTAB to make any changes to emergency manager orders.

Schiller is planning to retire, according to Danelle Gittus, a spokesperson for Treasury.

In the four years under emergency management the district has seen its deficit decline from $11.9 million to a projected $2 million in 2016.

The district's deficit has shrunk to where it was in the position to negotiate a remediation schedule with the Office of Retirement Services to repay its past due balance of $2.3 million by 2029

A recent bond refunding saved Muskegon Heights taxpayers more than $1.6 million.

The Muskegon Area Intermediate School District will also become responsible for all business services of the Muskegon Heights Academy created in 2012 "creating a greater level of financial transparency and fiduciary oversight for all stakeholders of the district," according to the press release.

The Receivership Transition Advisory Board will work closely with local leaders to ensure the school district continues on a path toward long-term financial stability.

 

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