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School bus. Photo by Heather, Creative Commons license

The 38 Michigan schools that were threatened with closure in January could now have a way to stay open.

State superintendent Brian Whiston sent letters this week to eight school districts that have schools on the closure list inviting them to participate in a “partnership” to fix the schools instead of shutting them down. 

“Once an agreement is reached,” the letter says, “The School Reform Office (SRO)  has agreed to delay any next level of accountability actions in order to give the Partnership Model an  opportunity to be successful.”

A spokesman for the state education department said the eight districts that got the letter were Benton Harbor, Bridgeport-Spaulding, Kalamazoo, Muskegon Heights, Pontiac, River Rouge, Saginaw and the Detroit Public School Community School District.

Also receiving a letter was the charter school office at Central Michigan University, which oversees Detroit’s Michigan Technical Academy. The charter school got a new principal and curriculum in 2015 but was put on the closure list based on the results of tests taken before the new management arrived.

The 38 schools were identified for closure because they fell in the bottom five percent of Michigan schools in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

The letter that went to the Detroit schools included both the 16 schools on the list that are currently part of the city district as well as the eight schools that are now in the state-run Education Achievement Authority, the education department spokesman said. The EAA schools  are expected to return to the district this summer.

Detroit schools advocates had argued that Detroit schools should be spared the closure ax because the district was just returned to a newly elected school board in January. The new board had vowed to sue if the closures went forward.

Here’s a copy of the letter the districts received:

Ed. Note: Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools. Content here is republished with permission. To learn more about Chalkbeat, listen to the podcast we did with them about their work.