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State House Republicans’ DPS plan hits unions, slows return to local control

Feb 17, 2016

Credit 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.

But House Republicans also want to restrict union activities, reduce retirement benefits for new teachers, and delay the return to local control compared to the Senate plan and Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal. It would take eight years before DPS could have a fully-elected school board under the plan, according to bill sponsors.

Lawmakers from Detroit are calling the plan “outrageous.”

“If they really are serious about school reform, then what they will do is that they will come to the table, sit down with us, and we will craft something together. They will not send over this garbage and ask us to consider it as though it’s palatable,” said state Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park, who represents parts of Detroit.

State Rep. Daniela Garcia, R-Holland, who is sponsoring part of the package, says if lawmakers don’t act quickly, the district could go bankrupt.

“Given the background and the track record that we’ve seen in Detroit, this is a large sum of money that we are appropriating, so it will start with an appointed board,” she said.

Garcia defended the proposal to slow return to local control.

“Given the background and the track record that we’ve seen in Detroit, this is a large sum of money that we are appropriating, so it will start with an appointed board.”

Republicans in the House say committee hearings on the proposal will begin next week.