Detroit Public Schools cuts deficit

Nov 21, 2011

Detroit Public Schools’ emergency manager Roy Roberts says the district is making headway on its deficit.

The district ended the 2010 fiscal year more than $327 million in the red. Roberts says the district cut that by more than $40 million the following year.

District officials also re-financed some of the system’s long-term debt obligations, so the deficit now stands at just under $84 million.

But Roberts says the system has to yet to tackle many significant challenges.

“Things that we’re considering right now [are] how many schools will we close? We have too many," Roberts notes. "How many charters will we charter? How many schools will move to EAS [new statewide district for the lowest-performing schools]? These are all challenges that we have in front of us.”

Another challenge going forward is that Detroit schools will lose about $45 million in federal stimulus funds that provided an important cushion over the past two years, as both state and local revenues have dropped.

Roberts says that means the district needs to stay "pedal to the metal" in cutting mode. “We have a $1.2 billion business," he says. "If you don’t run it like a business, you’re going to be in a horrible deficit position.”