Job listing going up soon for East Detroit CEO

State rep. blasts state takeover of four school buildings

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 23, 2016

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EASTPOINTE — The Michigan School Reform Office, or SRO, is set to post its job opening for a CEO at four East Detroit schools — East Detroit High School, Kelly Middle School, Bellview Elementary and Pleasantview Elementary — amid meetings with the district.

Caleb Buhs, public information officer for the Michigan Office of Technology, Management and Budget, which oversees the SRO, said that as of March 14, there was little else new on that front.

“The SRO is hoping to have a job posting up very soon,” Buhs wrote in an email, adding that the details of the listing had not been finalized as of that time.

State Reform Officer Natasha Baker told the Eastsider in February that the hiring process will run through the rest of the current school year, with the CEO serving for three years overall.

“The SRO is going to work collaboratively (with the district) to identify a mutually agreed upon CEO,” Baker said at the time. “This person in their roles and responsibility is charged to work collaboratively with Dr. Ryan McLeod, the (East Detroit) superintendent.”

The CEO is charged with improving academic results at the four schools, all of which are listed as priority schools by the state — a designation that denotes that they are in the bottom 5 percent of all school academic rankings in the state. Principals will still be in charge of the day-to-day operations.

McLeod said the district was meeting with the SRO the week of March 14; he could not be reached for comment as of press time.

State Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, said that Gov. Rick Snyder has requested $1 million this year in supplemental funding for the CEO program. She said he also is interested in $5 million for the SRO and CEOs for the next fiscal year, though she does not know if there is enough support in the state Legislature for those requests.

The Michigan House of Representatives was scheduled to vote March 22 before going on Easter break until April, Roberts said; results were not available as of press time.

“We’ll have to see what comes out of the Senate school aid budget, because it’s a process, but it doesn’t look like there’s support in the House for funding CEO takeovers of our local schools,” Roberts said.

Roberts added that in her eyes, the CEOs are “just another form” of appointing an emergency manager that will make financial and academic decisions.

“We have seen this state takeover model fail, whether it’s an emergency manager — and certainly it failed in Detroit Public Schools; they’re in more debt now than they were when the state took over the district,” Roberts said. “You look at the educational authority, the EAA, they’re performing worse after the state takeover (of those school buildings).”

East Detroit Public Schools just got out of an $8.6 million deficit this past year, she added, and is contending with charter schools, students coming to the district performing below grade level, and low teacher salaries. Instead, Roberts said, the state should be providing more targeted resources and programs to improve academic performance and support the teachers.

Baker told the Eastsider in February that the CEO approach was successful in Massachusetts, the state with the highest-performing schools in the country. She also noted that East Detroit High School had poor math proficiency as of 2014, when only 12 percent of students were proficient.

“I would like to see them on target to have 85 percent proficiency by 2021,” Baker said.

She added that the district, in taking Schools of Choice students, is responsible to make sure that its students are successful regardless of where they are from or their educational background

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