MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Leaders of the city's new charter academy system -- which is taking the place of the old public school district -- say their school year will be longer, parents will be more involved in their children's education -- and no saggy pants will be allowed.
The leaders held a forum for parents and the public Monday night at the Muskegon Heights High School performing arts center.
The academy system's 2012-2013 school year will begin after Labor Day like other districts, says Gene Eidelman, president of Mosaica Education Inc., the Atlanta-based charter company operating the Muskegon Heights system. But the school year will run longer than before -- 192 days.
"That's about 12 to 15 days longer than [Muskegon Heights students] went to school before," says Eidelman.
The plan is for Muskegon Heights to become a year-round school for the 2013-2014 school year.
Mosaica is leasing the Muskegon Heights buildings it will use for $1 per year. The company is also paying for district infrastructure improvements to bring the facilities up to code.
Leaders also discussed other changes coming to the revamped district:
- Uniforms for students, though no design has been finalized
- Security cameras in halls and classrooms, in addition to other efforts to step up safety and security
- Assessments of students and of teachers, which will be done from input from students and parents
- More emphasis on science and technology to help students to compete globally
The leaders say they will also expect more from parents, who will be asked to make commitments to be more involved in their children's education.
Arthur Scott, who will lead the academy system's board of education, told parents the district's new leaders are dedicated to making a difference in students lives. He says education is key to giving children better opportunities in life.
"It is cheaper to educate than to incarcerate," says Scott.
The board president also made a point of one form of dress that will not be allowed.
"One of the things that is the style of today is the baggy pants," says Scott. "We're not going to allow it."
The leaders also introduced the Mosaica executive who will oversee the charter academy system: Alena Zachary-Ross, who will serve as the company's regional vice president for Muskegon Heights. She last served as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Van Dyke Public Schools in Warren. Zachary-Ross is a GVSU graduate who received her masters degree in education psychology from Wayne State University.
The changes are the result of the district's takeover by emergency financial manager Dr. Donald Weatherspoon. Earlier this year, Gov. Rick Snyder appointed to assume control over the debt-ridden district.