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detroit public schools

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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.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

As the clock ticks down toward possible payless paydays in the Detroit Public Schools, the Detroit Federation of Teachers is trying turn up the pressure on state lawmakers.

DFT leaders are also trying to tamp down on a faction within the union that is pushing for more radical action to force Lansing’s hand.

The district needs state money in the short term to avoid running out of cash early next month. It also needs a longer-term rescue package to help shed crippling debt and reorganize as a new district.

Capitol Building in Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The water crisis in Flint and the financial crisis in Detroit Public Schools appear to be taking a toll on Michigan’s credit outlook.

Standard and Poor’s, one of the three major credit ratings agencies, revised Michigan’s outlook for general obligation debt down a notch, from “positive” to “stable” this week.

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

A $50 million emergency spending bill to keep Detroit Public Schools open through the rest of this school year has cleared the state House.

The district’s emergency manager says without an immediate infusion of cash, DPS probably won’t be able to pay teachers and staff after April 8th.

The bill now goes to the state Senate, where Republican Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof says he intends  to hold a vote on this $50 million bill, or a larger DPS bailout, sometime next week.

44 percent of Michigan 3rd graders tested proficient in English and Language Arts. The scores for African-American, latino and low-income students were even worse.
Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

An emergency spending bill to keep Detroit Public Schools open through the school year is moving quickly through the state House.

 

A House panel on Wednesday approved using about $50 million in tobacco settlement money to keep the nearly bankrupt district from closing its doors on April 8th.

 

Democratic state Representative Harvey Santana is from Detroit. He says the measure gives lawmakers much-needed time to consider a permanent rescue package for the district.

 

State House committee approves $48.7M for Detroit schools

Mar 16, 2016
Capitol Building in Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A Michigan House committee has approved $48.7 million in supplemental aid for the Detroit Public Schools after the district's state-appointed manager warned teachers might not be paid after April 8.

The committee approved the bill Wednesday. It now goes to the House floor.

House Appropriations Committee chairman Al Pscholka says the money will come from the state's tobacco settlement fund and not in the form of a loan.

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.

Jake Neher / MPRN

The state’s largest school district will likely not be able to make payroll after April 8.

That’s what new Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes told state lawmakers at a hearing on Wednesday.

Rhodes says he can’t guarantee employees will get paid after April 8 because the district will likely run out of money during that payroll period.

He’s urging lawmakers to act quickly to pass a bailout.

“I’m deeply concerned about the district running out of money on April 8th. There is no Plan B,” Rhodes told reporters after the hearing.

Michigan State University

The person in charge of charting a new academic course for the Detroit Public Schools is a familiar face in the district.

Former federal judge Steven Rhodes, the district’s emergency manager, has named Alycia Meriweather as the new interim superintendent

Merriweather is a lifelong Detroiter and DPS graduate who “started with the Detroit Public Schools as a four-year-old with Head Start,” Meriweather said during a sometimes-emotional press conference Monday.

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.

DPS emergency manager Steven Rhodes.
John Meiu / Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

Gov. Snyder has made it official: Judge Steven Rhodes is the Detroit Public Schools’ fifth emergency manager since 2009.

Rhodes is the retired federal judge who managed Detroit’s bankruptcy case.

Skillman Foundation

The next superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools should come from the district’s current ranks, according to a non-profit leader who turned the job down.

Tonya Allen leads the Skillman Foundation, which has been deeply involved in Detroit education reform efforts for years. She had been widely considered a front-runner for a leadership post

Allen said Friday that she was offered the job of DPS interim superintendent, but declined.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

A state judge has dismissed the Detroit Federation of Teachers and its president from a lawsuit brought by the Detroit Public Schools.

The lawsuit is over the numerous “sickout” protests DPS teachers staged early this year to highlight deteriorating conditions in the schools.

The district sued, calling them illegal wildcat strikes.

But on Thursday, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens dismissed the charges against the DFT and union president Ivy Bailey from the suit.

DPS emergency manager Steven Rhodes.
John Meiu / Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

It’s all but official: Steven Rhodes will take over as the next emergency manager of the Detroit Public Schools, the fifth in not quite seven years.

Rhodes is the former federal judge who managed the city of Detroit’s bankruptcy case.

He met with DPS teachers and other employees at Detroit’s Cass Tech high school late Wednesday.

Mercedes Mejia

Rick Joseph is the Michigan Teacher of the Year for 2016. Joseph recently wrote a piece for Bridge Magazine that asks, “Who am I to judge Detroit teacher sickouts?”

As Michigan Teacher of the Year, Joseph tells us he considers his role “to be an ambassador for teachers, to be a servant leader, to be an advocate for education throughout the state.”

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.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan gave his annual state of the city address Tuesday night, and it was a mixed bag.

Duggan ticked off some notable successes of his administration: more working streetlights, a much-improved bus system, and a record-setting demolition effort that took down about 5,000 blighted homes as of last year.

But there’s also an unexpected, $491 million shortfall in the city’s pension system.

Detroit Federation of Teachers

The city of Detroit and the Detroit Public Schools have signed a consent agreement.

It lays out timetables for fixing health and safety violations in some school buildings.

The agreement covers 26 schools right now. More schools could be added as city school inspections continue.

The agreement generally gives the district 30 days from the date of inspection to make repairs, sometimes less if there are health hazards.

The Michigan state capitol building
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.

Lauren Herrin

As controversy and uncertainty swirl around the future of the Detroit Public Schools, students say no one is asking for their input — and at least one group wants that to change.

Everyone from rural Michigan lawmakers to Detroit business leaders seems to have an opinion about the “DPS question.”

That’s because the district basically needs a state bailout and some type of “restructuring” to avoid bankruptcy.

But while officials haggle over bills in Lansing, DPS students say the conversation hasn’t included them.

Looking up into the rotunda of the Michigan Capitol.
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.

44 percent of Michigan 3rd graders tested proficient in English and Language Arts. The scores for African-American, latino and low-income students were even worse.
Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The clock is ticking, and Detroit’s Public Schools is edging closer toward bankruptcy. The district could run out of money as soon as April, due to $515 million of crushing debt.

Governor Rick Snyder made the Detroit Public Schools a key part of his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. State lawmakers have begun acting on measures to help put some kind of rescue plan in motion, but nothing has been cleared and sent to the governor’s desk.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit teachers and parents had a “day of action” Tuesday.

It centered around a number of “walk-in” events at neighborhood schools throughout the city.

Those brief rallies were meant to show public support for investing in schools and educators.

They’re designed to complement the recent wave of teacher sickout protests that have drawn attention to deteriorating buildings and other crisis within the Detroit Public Schools.

kids in classroom
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).

Diccionario / Flickr Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit has a new high school for bilingual students who speak Spanish and English.

Academy of the Americas has expanded from its main building in southwest Detroit.

Previously, all students attended classes in the same location. The new site will house students in grades 8-10.

The high school teaches a curriculum with a 50-50 ratio of both languages, which means students need to have a prior background in speaking Spanish.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Last week was the beginning of the end for the controversial Education Achievement Authority.

Republican state lawmakers announced the EAA would come to an end, in an effort to win Detroit lawmakers’ votes for bills to resolve the crisis in the Detroit Public Schools.  

Jake Neher / MPRN

The Eastern Michigan University board of regents has voted sever ties to the Education Achievement Authority.

EMU, along with the Detroit Public Schools, was part of the inter-local agreement that made the EAA possible.

The EAA was Gov. Snyder’s key education reform initiative. Launched in 2012, it was supposed to serve as a statewide school reform district.

The Michigan state capitol building
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.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools barred independent health inspectors from investigating some school buildings Wednesday.

The American Federation of Teachers hired the industrial hygienists to look into alleged environmental hazards.

But, “The district banned all of our inspectors from any of the buildings,” said Bob Fetter, an attorney representing the Detroit Federation of Teachers in a lawsuit over, among other things, dangerous environmental conditions in DPS schools.

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