House OKs school turnaround district legislation

The Republican-led Michigan House has narrowly approved legislation changing a law that lets the lowest-performing 5 percent of public schools be placed in a state turnaround district if their improvement plan doesn't work.

The bill passed 56-54 Thursday would allow no more than 50 schools in the statewide district at any time, put a priority on intervening in K-8 schools and prohibit new schools from being added until the 2015 to 2016 academic year.

The Education Achievement Authority running 15 schools in Detroit is now the turnaround district. But state Superintendent Mike Flanagan recently ended an exclusive deal with the authority.

The bill going to the Senate would let intermediate school districts manage low-performing schools. Empowering the districts is important for some Republicans who reason local interventions are better than state takeovers.