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Michigan Delays Decision on Potential Closures or Restructuring of Schools

Michigan officials are delaying a decision on the potential closure or restructuring of nearly 40 low-performing schools as the state takes more time to investigate the best way to proceed, the governor's office said.

The schools—the majority of which are in Detroit—face possible closure under a law that requires the state to annually identify schools ranked in the bottom 5 percent for the previous three years. Closure is one option for such schools, known as priority schools. The schools can also receive targeted interventions and support services and can shed their priority status if they meet targets in three specific areas after four years of putting a turnaround plan in place.

Of the 38 schools, 16 are in the Detroit Public Schools Community District, eight in the state's Education Achievement Authority, and one is a charter school, according to the Detroit Free-Press.

Some Detroit teachers, parents, and students rallied earlier this month against the possible closures.

In a statement announcing the delay, Gov. Rick Snyder said that state needs more time to decide what will happen to those schools. Brian Whiston, who is Michigan's schools chief, the staff at the state's School Reform Office, which is housed in the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, and the Michigan education department will work with local superintendents and districts to devise options for the schools.  A decision will be made by May, the Detroit Free-Press reported.

"The entire team at the School Reform Office has worked diligently to analyze data, visit schools and review potential options, but we need to do more before any final decisions can be made," Snyder said. "Any action we take will have long-lasting consequences and we need to take the time to get this right."

According to Snyder's officer, closure might not be best for some schools and communities because of the hardship that might impose on students and families.

"I understand the anxiety that parents have when there is a discussion about a school being closed and that everyone wants answers right away," the governor said. "But if we are going to do this right, we are going to have to take the time to do the right thing. We have heard from communities and their elected officials about the desire to have more input into this process and we will consider feedback from local communities as we move forward. The focus in all of this needs to be on helping and teaching the kids involved, so even if a school is not closed, there will be some changes made."

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