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DETROIT-Local philanthropist Robert Thompson will try for a second time to build $200 million worth of new charter high schools in the city. The Thompson Foundation and the Skillman Foundation were to file an application Monday with Grand Valley State University to oversee the project, says a Skillman spokesman.

“We believe there is a high need in Detroit and want to be a part of the solution,” adds Ed Richardson, Grand Valley’s charter school director. If the university approves the application, schools could open in fall 2006, Richardson says.

In 2003, Thompson offered to spend millions of dollars of his own money to open new charter high schools in the city. That plan fell through after many in the city said the new charter schools would siphon away too many students from the Detroit Public Schools–as well as the tax dollars that are assigned to schools based on enrollment. Employee unions in the school system led the effort to oppose 2003 plan.

Thompson says he was urged by many supporters to put the plan forward again. It is unclear if a 2003 law approved by the state legislature that would have allowed Thompson’s original plan to move forward would also apply to this plan or if a new legislative ruling would be needed.

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