Gov. to Highland Park parents: schools in danger of closing next month

Jan 24, 2012

Governor Rick Snyder has put Highland Park schools parents on notice that the district is in danger of closing next month.

The warning came in a letter Snyder sent to parents. It says the district’s finances have reached a crisis stage, and that Highland Park might not be able to finish the school year without state intervention.

"We were hearing lots of concerns, lots of frustration" the governor's spokeswoman, Sara Wurfel, said of the letter. "And so we just wanted to make sure we were communicating directly so they could hear from the governor, and he could begin to help answer those questions as best we can at the time."

But Highland Park school board secretary Robert Davis says the letter serves little purpose other than to scare parents, "and in turn may cause some parents to take their kids out of the district, which will further cripple the Highland Park school system."

The district's cumulative deficit is more than $11 million. Two weeks ago, the state had to front the district money to meet payroll.

A state review team has recommended that Governor Snyder appoint an emergency manager to run the district. Governor Snyder is expected to make a final decision once he receives a report from the state Treasury Department from a hearing held last week, at which district officials opposed state intervention.