Governor Rick Snyder has signed a $617 million dollar bailout of the Detroit Public Schools – which he says represents a fresh start for the financially and academically struggling district.
The plan creates a new debt-free Detroit school district, which will focus on educating the district’s 46,000 students, while the old district pays down the old debt.
The bills signed by the governor also return control of the district to a locally elected school board following seven years of state control that saw it sink deeper into debt. “So I think we’re on a positive path and I look forward to hopefully watching that process happen,” the governor said.
The new seven-member Detroit school board will be elected in November. The board for the existing school district will disappear.
Critics say the Republican plan isn’t up to the task and only delays the need for another rescue package or the collapse of the district.
The bills were adopted by the Legislature with no support from Democrats, the city’s mayor, or Detroit lawmakers. “Governor Rick Snyder has missed an opportunity to right history with his signing of the separate and unequal Detroit Public Schools Bills,” said state Representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit), a former teacher. “Under his leadership, we have watched the greatest dismantling of traditional public schools in the history of Michigan. Democracy was trampled on at every turn in the process of passing these Detroit-specific bills.”
The bills also take aim at teachers who walk out, and they allow the district to hire uncertified instructors. Those were adopted by Republicans in the Legislature after a two-day teacher sickout to protest the prospect of payless paydays.