I write today to express my concerns over pending legislation pertaining to the EAA (Education Achievement Authority). As I understand it, the legislation now in Lansing would expand the EAA's authority and allow it to take over any school in the state that is in the bottom 5 percent, in essence, creating a statewide school district. I actually have no objection to that part of the legislation as I do not see how or why it would matter if a bottom 5 percent school were located in the City of Detroit or not.
My serious concerns relate to the following components of the legislation:
- The EAA would be totally independent of any local control. According to the proposed legislation, it would not even be accountable to the State Board of Education and the State Superintendent of Schools. It would report directly to the Governor. It would not have to administer the MEAP tests, which, though not a perfect testing system, is still the one common yardstick used to determine if students are making progress on basic skills. That is not acceptable.
- Of most concern to us in Plymouth is the provision that would allow the EAA to take over vacant school buildings, wherever they are located. If we close a school in Plymouth-Canton (Starkweather is currently closed in the City of Plymouth and there are discussion to close Central Middle School), we would be required to put that school on a state listing of vacant school buildings and keep the school (even though vacant) in operating condition for two years. During these two years, the EAA could, by paying the appraised value of the building, purchase it without our consent for the appraised value, even if we could have got more than the appraised value by selling it to a non-school entity. If Central Middle School closes, it is in the heart of our downtown and we will not accept a vacant building for two years. I can assure you that if this legislation passes and we end up with a huge vacant structure in our downtown for two years while some outside body decides if they want to take it over, we will vigorously review our legal options against the state of Michigan. Furthermore, if the EAA tries to take control of a building located in the City of Plymouth, we will join with the Plymouth-Canton school board in vigorously reviewing our legal options against the State of Michigan
City of Plymouth