detroit public schools

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Michigan lawmakers have approved loaning more money to schools facing serious financial problems.

Long term, low interest emergency loans help school districts restructure and pay down their debt.

But the state’s Emergency Loan Board already offered more than $48 million dollars in loans to school districts, almost all the money state law allowed. Now the cap has been lifted to $70 million.

MichigansChildren / YouTube

Michigan’s top education official says the state should help Detroit Public Schools pay down its massive debt.

The governor and state lawmakers are discussing ways to turn around the district - which is almost $500 million in debt. The district spends $53 million dollars a year on debt service.

  

Outgoing state Superintendent Mike Flanagan says paying off the district’s debt would free up tens of thousands of dollars for every classroom in Detroit.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

At least one prominent Republican at the state Capitol believes Detroit Public Schools (DPS) is likely to be dissolved.

State lawmakers are debating ways to help turn around public schools in Detroit. Gov. Rick Snyder hopes to sell them on a plan to turn around the district. It includes shifting money from districts across the state to help DPS pay off debt.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Voters believe providing education for Detroit students is the state's duty, but don't think Governor Snyder's recent proposal is the way to do it, according a recent poll conducted by Public Sector Consultants and Michigan Radio.

Of the 600 likely voters polled, 82% agreed the state has an obligation to provide a quality education to all kids in Detroit, but answers varied when it came down to how to fund that education. 

Whatever your politics, here’s something hard to deny: Detroit Public Schools are a terrible failure, and have been for years.

Four emergency managers have failed to stop a staggering hemorrhage of students, or make the schools any kind of academic success. Nor have they managed to get the district’s ballooning deficit under control. The numbers tell the tale.

Rebecca Kruth

First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to more than 2,000 Detroit students as part of the city's first College Signing Day.

Students from more than 40 Detroit high schools came to hear Obama speak about the importance of committing to higher education.

"In fact, we should all be as excited about college signing day as we are about the Super Bowl, the World Series, and the Playoffs," she said.

Governor Rick Snyder announced his plan to fix Detroit’s schools yesterday, and to me, the most annoying thing was this: Demonstrators on both sides of the spectrum were rushing to Lansing to protest against his plan before they knew what was in it.

Classroom
User Motown31 / Creative Commons

We’re starting to hear early reports about Governor Snyder’s plan for restructuring public education in Detroit. The school landscape there is very fractured right now, with a combination of traditional public schools, charters, and the Education Achievement Authority.

Kids in Detroit learn music from U of M students

Apr 23, 2015
Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

After school on Fridays, the halls of Woodbridge Community Center are filled with music. There's the sound of guitars from one room, a cello and violin duet of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star from another, and the plunking of piano keys. 

All that music is thanks to University of Michigan student Sam Saunders, and his club Seventh Mile Music. 

debt
Christian Schnettelker / Creative Commons

 A new report says restructuring Detroit Public Schools' debt could cost other school districts millions of dollars.

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan says other districts would lose about $50 per student if DPS is allowed to use property taxes to pay off its debt. Schools normally use these taxes to fund operations. But if the taxes were used to pay off debt, the state would have to make up the difference.

Classroom
User Motown31 / Creative Commons

Fifty-six Michigan school districts and charter schools started this school year in deficit. The Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, made up of community leaders in Detroit, is asking the state to assume $350 million in school debt. State lawmakers are being asked for $725,000 dollars to cover unpaid debts of the former Buena Vista school district, the one they dissolved two years ago.

The Coalition for the Future of Detroit School Children
Rebecca Kruth

A coalition of business and community leaders yesterday released their recommendations for improving Detroit’s struggling school district.

The Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren said control over Detroit Public Schools needs to go back in the hands the school board and out from under emergency management.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit Public Schools is $53 million behind in pension payments with no end in sight for the financial free-fall.

According to Chad Livengood of The Detroit News, the district is predicting a deficit of $166 million.

"The biggest driver to the DPS deficit is legacy costs and past debt," Livengood says.

Virtually everyone who doesn’t have a political reason to pretend otherwise would agree that the Detroit public schools are a dreadful failure.

More than three-quarters of its students have fled the district in the last 14 years. Test scores remain appallingly low, and a succession of emergency managers has failed to stabilize the finances. Most children in the district now go to charters, private schools or schools in the suburbs, a clear vote of no confidence by Detroit parents.

The Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren is still getting public and expert input, even as its deadline approaches.

The group is coming up with recommendations to overhaul and streamline Detroit’s multiple school systems. They face a March 31 deadline to submit recommendations to Governor Snyder.

This past weekend, the coalition held several workshops to hear from Detroit children.

via Detroit Public Schools

The Detroit Public Schools’ emergency manager has laid out a plan he says should get the district on a “sustainable path” by the end of his 18-month term.

Darnell Earley’s restructuring plan has some short-term specifics, such as convening a summit of Detroit’s “education service providers” to discuss putting a moratorium on creating new schools before fall 2015; identifying further potential school and “substandard facility” closures; and establishing a task force to deal with the district’s high population of special education students.

One of Gov. Snyder’s top education advisors made a rare public appearance at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s yearly Detroit Policy Conference Thursday.

Paul Pastorek has been working behind the scenes in Lansing for months.

According to the Governor’s office, he’s an “at-will consultant" helping design a major overhaul for Detroit’s struggling, fragmented education system.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Monster trucks may be an incentive for thousands of Detroit Public School students to get to class next Wednesday. 

Every one of the district’s 47,000 Students will receive two tickets to an upcoming monster truck show at Ford Field.

DPS spokesman Steve Wasko says the ticket giveaway is a sign of support in the community for Detroit schools.

Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren / via Facebook

Over the past two decades, nearly everything about going to school in Detroit has changed.

School choice has meant an explosion of charters in and around the city. Now, more Detroit kids attend charters than traditional public schools.

As for Detroit Public Schools, the district has been under some kind of state control for 12 out of the past 15 years.

Despite these changes, most people feel like the schools situation in the city has gotten worse, not better.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The new Detroit Federation of Teachers’ President says it’s time for the union to “draw a line in the sand.”

Steve Conn was just elected to lead the union of nearly 4,000 Detroit Public Schools teachers.

He took the oath of office Tuesday, vowing to take a hard line against Gov. Snyder, the district’s new emergency manager, Darnell Earley — and the years of state-led intervention Conn says have devastated the district.

Reporters getting a closer look at the Chevy Bolt concept.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

This week, Jack and Emily discuss Detroit schools’ new emergency manager, Dave Agema’s latest controversy and the North American International Auto Show.


Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Flint’s emergency manager is moving into a new role: as emergency manager of the Detroit Public Schools.

Gov. Snyder named Darnell Earley as the school district’s fourth consecutive emergency manager on Tuesday.

Classroom
User Motown31 / Creative Commons

Governor Snyder has chosen Darnell Earley, Flint's current emergency manager, to replace Jack Martin as Detroit Public School's emergency manager.

Chastity Pratt Dawsey, who covers education issues for Bridge Magazine, talked to us about what this means for DPS.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

This is a crucial week for the future of the Detroit Public Schools—and possibly holds a key test for Michigan’s emergency manager law, too.

The school district’s third emergency manager, Jack Martin, is expected to leave this week, after serving in that post for 18 months.

Under Michigan’s revised emergency manager law, elected officials—in this case, the Detroit Board of Education—can remove an emergency manager after that period of time by a 2/3 vote. The board has indicated they intend to do just that.

The Detroit Public Schools has laid out new plans to erase its red ink.

The district’s revised deficit elimination plan still awaits state approval. But if approved, it would result in a small surplus by 2023, says district spokesman Steve Wasko.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More Michigan school districts are dealing with a deficit. 

The numbers comes from a quarterly report filed by the State Superintendent’s office with the state legislature.

Fifty five school districts are now required to file deficit elimination plans with the state. That’s up from 48 last year. 

user MoBikeFed / flickr

Criminal incidents are on the decline in the Detroit Public Schools, according to new data from school officials.

“Serious incidents” such as assault and weapons possession dropped from 456 in the first three months of last school year, to 343 during the same time frame this year—a nearly 25% decline.

“It’s a larger ongoing trend,” said DPS police chief Stacy Brackens. “We’ve had a downward trend since 2010.”

Skillman Foundation

Locally-generated solutions should drive any effort to fix Detroit schools.

That’s the message coming from the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, a group that formed just this week.

It’s an unusually broad group that includes community, business, union, and education leaders working in the city.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

DETROIT- Two Michigan school districts have each received nearly $100,000 in federal grants to bring locally grown food to school cafeterias.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the grants to Detroit Public Schools and the Waterford School District on Tuesday. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Three of the five school districts that face more scrutiny from Michigan’s Department of Treasury have reduced their general fund deficits last school year. That’s according to independent audits recently filed to the state. But some still face serious, ongoing problems. Here’s a breakdown of how the districts ended the 2013-14 school year.

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