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Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Members of the Detroit Board of Education have voted to reject a set of state-proposed loans to help bail-out the struggling district.

Last week, Governor Snyder signed off on a $617 million package to create a new, debt-free Detroit school system. The two rejected loans are part of the state's bail-out plan and total $385 million.

Board president LaMar Lemmons says the interest rates on the loans are too high.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Does the newly-passed state rescue plan for Detroit's public schools do enough to meet the future needs of the struggling district and its students?

A newly-released study from the non-partisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan points to growing challenges in funding the education of Detroit's kids -- factors the new state plan did not take into account.

Craig Thiel with the CRC joined us today to discuss the findings. 

DPS website

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a $617 million 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.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan was as angry as I’ve ever seen him late last week.

For months, members of both parties in the state Senate had worked with the governor to forge a rare bipartisan compromise to save Detroit Public Schools.

They came up with a figure needed to wipe out the debt and manage transition costs, and agreed to establish a Detroit Education Commission that would decide where any new schools, conventional or charter, could open.

The idea was to maintain balance and not have destructive competition in some areas while leaving other areas underserved.

Governor Rick Snyder is trying to make the best of it as a plan he endorsed to try and save the Detroit Public Schools is starting to look like it isn’t going to happen.

The Detroit Public Schools are in financial crisis. The district could go into default - bankruptcy is even an option - if the the state Legislature doesn’t adopt a bailout plan this month. If that happens, it’s possible tens of thousands of students in the city could be without a school to go to come fall.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder is optimistic that Michigan’s budget plan for next year should be wrapped up in the next week or two. 

Time is running short. The state legislature is only has a few weeks until it is scheduled to adjourn for much of the summer and there is still a lot left to do.

The state senate is expected to tackle funding for Detroit public schools this week. Last week, the state house passed a $617 million package that Democrats complain does more to protect the interests of charter school operators than students.

The Michigan House of Representatives.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan state House narrowly passed a bill to bail out Detroit Public Schools tonight. But critics complain the plan does more for charter schools than Detroit kids.

The main bill in the package passed by a razor-thin margin, 55 to 53 votes.    

The legislation would allocate more than $600 million for the district, including $150 million to help transition Detroit schools to a new district.  

The school system has been under state control for the past seven years. 

House Speaker Kevin Cotter says the plan will help the district succeed.

nearly one in every five DPS students  qualifies for some special education services
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The fight continues over a bailout package for Detroit Public Schools.

Today, the state House is attempting to hash out the differences between its rescue plan and the bipartisan plan passed by the state Senate.

At the heart of the fight is an amended Senate proposal for a Detroit Education Commission, a body that would set the same standards for closing down both failing public schools and charter schools in Detroit.

Clark Durant is co-founder of Cornerstone Schools, which runs charter schools in Detroit.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State legislative leaders are still trying to reach a deal on a bailout for Detroit Public Schools.

All the action on the bill took place behind closed doors Wednesday, with few specifics leaking out.

The $600 million package reportedly includes $150 million in new start-up funding.

But House Minority Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, is upset that Democrats and Detroit lawmakers have had no role in crafting the plan.

nearly one in every five DPS students  qualifies for some special education services
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Yet another Detroit Public Schools administrator is accused of stealing from the district.

This time the alleged scam steered at least $1,275,000 to a former grants manager for tutoring services that were never delivered.

Carolyn StarkeyDarden worked for the district from 1968 to 2005. She went on to set up a series of companies that got tutoring contracts with the district.

Courtesy of Imani Harris

The future of the Detroit Public Schools as a functioning district is in doubt. The state Legislature is haggling over whether to give it a fighting chance or shortchange it – and allow uncertified teachers.

That has legislators, the governor, some business leaders and teachers very concerned. But they aren’t the only ones.

Imani Harris, a sophomore at Renaissance High in Detroit, voiced her thoughts on what’s happening to DPS in a letter. She joined us today on Stateside.

Jodi Westrick

There are big differences between the state House and Senate on what to do next about the budget crisis facing Detroit Public Schools. 

The district needs a massive influx of state aid to stay open next school year. DPS interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather joined Cynthia Canty on today’s Stateside to explain how she hopes to elevate the quality of education for all Detroit public school students.

State lawmakers at odds over best DPS rescue package

May 11, 2016
Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, speaks to reporters on the Senate floor after the Senate passed Senate Bills 710, 711, and 819 - 822, measures that would reform Detroit's public schools.
senatorgoeffhansen.com

Michigan lawmakers are at odds over the best rescue package for Detroit Public Schools, including one plan that could leave the district $80 million in debt by September.

A new memo from State Treasurer Nick Khouri predicts a dark future for DPS if an agreement cannot be reached among lawmakers, with teachers missing paychecks and the district going severely into debt.

Detroit teachers want a forensic audit, so they held a lemonade stand to raise money and public awareness at Detroit's Eastern Market this weekend.
flickr user Rob Bertholf / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit Public Schools has been controlled by the state since 2009. 

Yet, the latest emergency manager says without an infusion of cash from the state, the district won't be able to meet its financial obligations after June 30. 

Michigan state Capitol
User: mattileo / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A set of Republican-sponsored bills to fund and overhaul the Detroit Public Schools is being met with skepticism in the state Senate. The state House adopted the legislation in a marathon session that lasted until early this morning.

Steven Johnson was surprised to learn he might be heading to Lansing next year to represent Michigan's 72nd District.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It took 15 hours and an all-nighter, but the state House narrowly managed to approve a package of six bills aimed at fixing the Detroit Public Schools. 

Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics team Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta sit down with us today to talk about the bills, and about how the House and Senate have different views about how to keep DPS doors open. 

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about Gov. Rick Snyder's plans to meet with President Obama in Flint today, teacher sickouts in Detroit and the future of the presidential campaign, now that the Indiana primary is over.

Detroit teachers protesting downtown on May 2, 2016.
Sarah Jardine

Nearly all Detroit schools closed today due to a massive sick-out conducted by the city's teachers.

Earlier this year, there were a series of sick-outs aimed at bringing attention to both the poor physical and financial state of Detroit Public Schools.

Today's protest is different from previous events because the teacher's union, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, is encouraging teachers to take part. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The emergency manager for the Detroit Public Schools says the district will have no money to continue paying teachers this summer without further funding from the state.

  The Detroit Free Press reports  that former bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes said in an email Saturday that the district also will be unable to fund summer school or special education programs after June 30.

  Rhodes was appointed by the state to oversee the district's finances.

There are those in Lansing who say, perhaps not so openly, that the people who run Detroit Public Schools can’t be trusted, that they are incompetents and thieves, and that to give them more money and free them from emergency management is to court disaster.

Yesterday, we learned that the federal government is accusing a dozen present and former principals of doing their part to prove that Detroit Public School administrators deserve to be held in contempt.

flickr user Violet Jiang / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Late last week, the state House passed a stopgap funding bill that gives nearly $50 million to the Detroit Public Schools.

That’s just enough money to see the flailing school district through to the end of this school year.

Governor Snyder’s proposed $715 million fix is still on the table. It would divide the district into two entities: an “Old Co.” that would use millage revenue to pay off the $515 million in debt, and a “New Co.” that would exist solely to educate students.

For interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather, allowing DPS to shut down is "unimaginable"
Michigan State University

The Detroit Public Schools have a new interim superintendent appointed by state emergency manager Judge Stephen Rhodes.

Alycia Meriweather is now in charge of academics for DPS. Unlike a lot of previous top administrators, she’s actually from Detroit and a DPS graduate. She’s also a long-time Detroit teacher.

DPS has been closing  schools, ending programs, losing students and losing money, a downward trend that has continued under the string of state-appointed emergency managers.

For teachers in Detroit, Meriweather says it’s been an exercise in creativity.

Recently I was led through an abandoned building in Detroit.

“The first time we came in here in 2013 it was still relatively intact. The power was off, but pretty much everything else was in decent shape. It wasn’t in great shape, but just a matter of months and this place was completely destroyed,” one of my guides told me.

So, who walked away from a perfectly good building, failed to secure it well enough to keep metal thieves out?

The Detroit Public School District.

The former Carstens Elementary School building, on Detroit's east side, is one of many, many schools that have been shuttered in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s top treasury official is warning lawmakers to not let the state’s largest district go bankrupt.

A state House panel on Wednesday held its first hearing on legislation to keep Detroit Public Schools from going broke in April.

State Treasurer Nick Khouri told lawmakers bankruptcy would likely cost taxpayers more than twice as much as a state bailout.

“The total cost to the state and others is about $700 million with this package. It’s probably about $1.8 billion or so if the district actually files and we work through bankruptcy,” said Khouri.

Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The top lawmaker in the state House says bankruptcy should be on the table as a way to help resolve Detroit Public Schools’ financial crisis.

Both the state House and Senate have plans that would commit hundreds of millions of state dollars to help restructure the district and pay down debt.

 Suppose you came from fairly humble circumstances and had struggled to earn a college degree. You decide to become a teacher yourself, because that’s the only way poor and disadvantaged children have any chance at achieving a successful life.

You wind up teaching in a building that is falling apart, that is infested with mold and rodents, where the heat doesn’t work well in the winter, and it is like an oven in the late summer. You have to worry about fights, some involving kids bigger than you are. Guns and gangs are very real problems.

user cedarbenddrive/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

State House Republicans are offering their own proposal to aid Detroit Public Schools.

Like similar legislation in the state Senate, the bills would restructure the state’s largest district and commit more than $70 million a year from the state to help pay down its debt.

nearly one in every five DPS students  qualifies for some special education services
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Detroit parents, teachers, and school officials were in Lansing on Tuesday to speak out on bills meant to rescue Michigan’s largest district.

Demonstrators gathered outside a state Senate committee hearing on Senate bills 710 and 711. Not to oppose the legislation, but to bring attention to the deteriorating state of Detroit Public Schools (DPS).

Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Legislative hearings are underway on a plan to keep Detroit Public Schools from going broke.

Bills in the state Senate would commit more than $700 million from the state to restructure Michigan’s largest district and help pay down its crushing debt.

Lawmakers serving on the state Senate Government Operations Committee acknowledged repeatedly that the stakes are high.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan’s emergency manager law has received considerable criticism in the wake of the Flint water crisis. The concept of the state moving in to take power away from local officials to fix a financial crisis is not new. In fact, Public Act 72, known as the Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act, was passed in 1990.

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