MLBC Statement on Urban School Debt Elimination

The Michigan Legislative Black Caucus applauds the House and Senate Chamber leaders, and the Appropriation Chairs for their prioritization and execution in eliminating school debt for multiple urban communities across the state of Michigan including Benton Harbor, Inkster, Marshall-Albion, Muskegon Heights, Pontiac, and Ypsilanti

Representative Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac) has tirelessly been working on behalf of the Pontiac community and held positions as President for the Michigan Association of School Boards and the Pontiac School Board, creating a pathway for Pontiac’s youth to thrive despite the barriers that have plagued urban communities. 

“During my tenure the Pontiac School District was instrumental in setting the model on how to not only avoid receivership but make sound decisions that eventually led to this moment of having their debt eliminated completely,” Rep. Carter said. “We continue to make significant progress towards providing the best opportunities possible for our local elected leaders to lead unencumbered.”  

Representative Jimmie Wilson, Jr. (D-Ypsilanti) has made eliminating school debt in Ypsilanti one of his primary missions since entering the Legislature.  

“I am proud to be able to work with my colleagues to provide a fresh start for our students and our community,” Rep. Wilson said. “I know Ypsilanti Community Schools can achieve even greater things now that they will be free from having to spend $2 Million a year paying on this inherited debt. Democrats in Lansing, at the urge of the MLBC, have delivered debt relief for YCS and disproportionately impacted local district across the state.” 

While we encourage good stewardship and proper management of resources, there are a litany of reasons we can ascertain as to why these urban districts initially obtained debt, and contended with continued debt, opposed to focusing their efforts and resources towards growth within their districts and communities. Some of the obvious reasons include direct and indirect intent to negatively impact growth in urban districts around Michigan by way of policies that prioritized eliminating resources and dealing with the realities of having to use the limited resources allotted to manage operations. While record funding was made with the last several School Aid Fund allocations, the fact that this debt remained on the books for many urban school districts meant that those new dollars couldn’t be utilized in a way that truly levels the playing field so that they can advance and improve achievement. 

We have collectively made great strides thus far in enacting policies that actually move the needle forward for all of Michigan’s residents and the passing of a historic budget that allows for some of our most marginalized groups to improve their outlook. We all agree that our future lies in our ability to provide the best opportunity for our young people to flourish and eliminating urban school debt was the logical next step in that process.


Chris Jackson, 248.210.6632, 

NOTE: Photos of Reps. Carter and Wilson attached.