Private donors pay start-up costs of statewide district

DETROIT — Private funders have contributed some $2 million in start-up costs for the new statewide school district intended to turn around low-performing K-12 schools, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The district, called the Education Achievement Authority, is unique in having primarily private support, experts told the Free Press. In future years, the district will receive per-pupil state funding for students enrolled in its member schools, but at this point it is operating on a grant from the California-based Broad Foundation and other private donors that state officials declined to name, the Free Press reported.

The donations are being held by the new Michigan Education Excellence Foundation, according to the Free Press. The authority is charged with improving performance in Michigan’s worst schools, possibly starting with certain Detroit Public Schools buildings in the fall of 2012, the Free Press reported.

Mike Griffith, senior analyst with the Education Commission of the States, said that using donated start-up funds is reasonable, given Michigan’s economy, but that it’s not wise to rely on private donations over the long term, the Free Press reported.

Griffith said the authority should ensure that donors do not have influence over its operations, the Free Press reported, while Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, told the Free Press that the new district should tell the public how the money is spent, including the private donations.


Detroit Free Press, “Private donors funding new statewide district for struggling schools,” Oct. 26, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “The Occupiers vs. Detroit’s Recovery,” Oct. 19, 2011