DETROIT — The state of Michigan is easing some financial oversight of Detroit's public schools, it was announced Monday.
The district has struggled financially for years but its "high-risk status" has been dropped by the state Education Department. The change means Detroit schools no longer have to have the state approve its improvement plan, and the district also gets more discretion over spending.
State-appointed emergency manager Jack Martin still will run the district, and Michigan education officials said the state will continue monitoring the district's financial performance.
"This recognizes the sustained actions taken by emergency managers Robert Bobb, Roy Roberts, and now Jack Martin, with the cooperation of labor, for the systemic changes instituted over the past five years to help get the district on firmer ground financially and with their academic programs," state schools Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a statement.
Michigan deemed Detroit schools to be high-risk after the federal government in 2008 raised questions about $53 million in spending. Those issues have been resolved.
Among other things, the district no longer must put out a bid for any contract of at least $25,000. The bidding rule now is determined by district policy, state and federal law.
"Removal from federal high risk status is further evidence of (the district's) growing stabilization as a district, and will offer us greater access to both private and public funds to assist us," Martin said in a statement. "Improvements in academic performance, enrollment and now financial reporting signal a new day" in the district.
Detroit's school system serves 49,000 students, which is about 2 percent fewer than last year. That decrease, though, is smaller than in recent years. The district served about 183,000 students in 1993, and its biggest recent enrollment decline occurred when the state transferred a number of schools to an authority set up to manage failing schools.