Public Act 4 allows the Governor to appoint Emergency Managers for both cities and school districts. Muskegon Heights is a school district where Governor Snyder appointed an EM, Donald Weatherspoon. While acting as Emergency Manager, Weatherspoon contracted out management of the city's schools to a group called Mosaica Education. This for-profit charter operation operates close to fifty schools globally (including six others in Michigan) and, according to Michigan Radio, their contract includes "athletics, band, special education, and bussing." According to the MEA, Weatherspoon said he chose Mosaica because of "high standards for academic performance and research-based methods for supporting students that need assistance.".
However, looking at Mosaica's track record tells a different story. Of the six schools they ran in Michigan before Muskegon Heights, five of them were under the 33rd percentile of public schools this past year , and two were closed due to their poor performance. These schools are located in Grand Blanc, Pontiac, Bingham, Inkster, and Flint. There is a drive within the state to increase the number of charter schools, and so one of the potential consequences of that is prioritizing quantity over quality. Mosaica's budget plans involve using $5.5 million of their own money to start, and then receiving $7,397 per-pupil from the state.
As of last month, 80% of the juniors and seniors in Muskegon Heights High School were not on track for graduation, so Mosaica has proposed drastic changes in order to get the students back on track in time for graduation. One of these changes involves something called "4 x 4 block scheduling", in which four core subjects are each taught for 90 minutes each day. Another change is aggressively going after new teachers and training these teachers in methods that they hope will breed improved results quickly. All of the teachers who had already been working at the schools were laid off and forced to reapply for the charter school positions.
With Public Act 4 up for referendum on November 6th, the future of the EM and Mosaica's 5-year contract for running the school district is up in the air. If Proposal 1 fails, the board could try to terminate the contract sooner, if they prove that the terms of the contract are not being met and that Mosaica is not properly running the schools. However, Weatherspoon has said that if this happens, there are no other options in regards to funding the school system and that he would deny funds to the board of education. So, if Proposal 1 passes, Weatherspoon will have the opportunity to renew Mosaica's contract when it runs out. If Proposal 1 fails, that responsibility falls to the school board.