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New Detroit Schools Manager Warns Michigan Legislature Of Disapproving Bailout

Jake Neher

The new emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools says time is running out for lawmakers to approve a bailout.  

The state’s largest school district will likely not be able to make payroll after April 8.  That’s what new Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes told state lawmakers at a hearing on Wednesday.

Rhodes says he can’t guarantee employees will get paid after April 8, because the district will likely run out of money during that payroll period.  He’s urging lawmakers to act quickly to pass a bailout.  “I’m deeply concerned about the district running out of money on April 8th.  There is no Plan B,” Rhodes told reporters after the hearing.  “I cannot in good conscience ask teachers to work after April 8, knowing that I can’t pay them when their paychecks are due two weeks later,” he said.  “I can’t do that.  We can’t do that.  It’s not fair.  It’s not right.”

New Interim DPS Superintendent AlyciaMeriweather joined Rhodes at the hearing.  She says allowing schools to close would only hurt students.  “The debt is not the fault of the children.  And yet, they are the ones suffering because of decisions adults have made,” said Meriweather.  “And so, at this point, adults have another decision to make.”

DPS’ debt has ballooned under a series of state-appointed emergency managers that have served since 2009.  The Legislature’s spring recess also falls on the two weeks leading up to April 8.  That would give lawmakers about two weeks from now to act to prevent the state’s largest district from going broke. 

There’s a chance the state could advance school aid payments to the district to give the Legislature more time to consider the package.

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— Jake Neher is the State Capitol Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

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