The newly-appointed emergency financial manager of the Highland Park Schools is moving quickly to resolve the district’s more than $11 million budget deficit.
Jack Martin’s first day on the job was Monday, and the first school on the chopping block was Barber Focus School.
Students were sent home Monday with a note about the closure. The roughly 270 K-8 students will now attend Henry Ford Academy, which is about a mile away.
A handful of teachers and parents Local 4 spoke with said they hadn’t known about the consolidation until the news report about it.
“You’re uprooting these kids who are trying to come get an education. They love their school. They love their teachers. Who knows how many teachers are going to follow them over to Ford (academy). We hope all of them are going to follow,” said one parent.
The schools don’t have bus service. Students are either driven or walk. Shuttles between the buildings will run before and after classes.
The district has had an operating deficit in five of the past six fiscal years. Enrollment has dropped from 3,179 students to 969 during the past five years.
The governor exercised his right pursuant to Public Act 4 of 2011 following the recommendations of a 10-member independent review team.
Martin, a certified public accountant, is founder and chairman of Martin, Arrington, Desai & Meyers, P.C., and was chief financial officer for the U.S. Department of Education from January 2002 through December 2005.