Koby Levin of Chalkbeat reports that a study of the state takeover of Detroit’s public schools–which lasted for 15 years–was “a costly mistake.”

The state was supposed to solve intractable problems that elected school officials in Detroit could not.

It made things worse, according to a newly released report on the 15 years during which the Detroit school district was largely controlled by state-appointed officials.

The study, which was commissioned by the current school board, found a pattern of “startling mismanagement” in academic and financial matters whose consequences continue to weigh on the district’s future.

While some had hoped that the report would eventually lead to a lawsuit against the state, that seems unlikely. Instead, it provides a 172-page confirmation of what many Detroiters have argued for years: that installing state officials in place of the elected school board wasn’t enough to make the district’s problems disappear.

“The legacy of emergency management coupled with the continuing effect of inequitable school funding, will inevitably cause the District to hit a ceiling and impede its current progress toward a complete turnaround of traditional public education in Detroit,” the seven board members wrote in a statement in response to the report.

As state officials closed dozens of schools, they failed to adequately maintain the properties — “a costly mistake,” the report found, “as many of the vacant buildings have been stripped and/or vandalized.”

Tom Watkins, who was state superintendent from 2001 to 2005, said there was little hope of improving the district’s financial situation simply through effective management — not without solving underlying issues with declining enrollmentand Michigan’s school funding structure.

“It’s like trying to bail out a sinking yacht with a thimble,” he said.

The state threw everything it could think of at the struggling district–emergency management, charters galore–but not the funding needed.