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detroit public schools

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

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s slowing down his plans to fix Detroit’s schools in order to get the process moving. In the face of resistance from Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature, the governor says he wants to break up the work, focusing first on retiring the district’s massive debt.

Legislative successes and failures in 2015

Dec 17, 2015
user cedarbenddrive/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

As the Michigan Legislature wraps up for the year we wanted to take a look back at 2015 with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

Sikkema and Demas agree that the list of legislative successes is short this year. Sikkema says:

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Seven Detroit Public Schools closed Thursday when too many teachers called in sick.

The “sick-out” is mostly a protest against Governor Snyder’s plans for the troubled district, which he wants to split in two and put through a bankruptcy-like overhaul.

Detroit’s Public Schools are slowly dying. Those who run them would not use those words, but that’s what is happening. The schools have lost sixty-five percent of their students in the last ten years, and have closed more than three-fifths of their buildings.

There’s some evidence of better management in the last year. Enrollment may have temporarily stabilized. The schools have shed some of the top-heavy central office bureaucracy that for years drained resources and messed with education.

Lawmakers are continuing their autumn recess, but they’ll soon be back in Lansing to focus on Governor Rick Snyder’s plan for Detroit schools.

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

Some local school officials in Michigan would be OK with tapping the state’s School Aid Fund to help Detroit Public Schools pay down debt. That’s if they get some assurances.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal would tap the state’s School Aid Fund to pay for the measure. School leaders outside Detroit have balked at that idea – saying the plan shouldn’t come at the expense of every other Michigan student.

bottom of chalkboard, with an eraser and chalk sitting on the ledge
user alkruse24 / Flickr

With the roads funding plan behind them, the Michigan Legislature is on break until December. When they return, fixing Detroit Public Schools will be at the top of the legislative agenda.

Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed a controversial plan for DPS that would start a new district responsible for educational instruction and general operations while leaving the roughly $500 million in legacy debt with the old district.

Math flashcards
Ross Belmont / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Wayne State University is getting a $1.4 million grant to prepare elementary and middle school math teachers to teach in Detroit.

The grant from the National Science Foundation's Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program will help WSU recruit and train 56 new math teachers to teach in Detroit classrooms.

Jake Neher / MPRN

State lawmakers are taking a three-week break for deer hunting and Thanksgiving.

  

And they’ll have a lot of work waiting for them when they return to Lansing.

Detroit schools' budget deficit smaller than expected

Nov 10, 2015
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 recent audit showed the Detroit Public Schools' deficit for the 2014-15  fiscal year is smaller than originally projected.

DPS officials said they had expected the annual deficit to be in the range of $70 million. But the audit puts it at $46.5 million, more than $22 million less.

Gov. Rick Snyder formed a workgroup that made 69 recommendations on how the state of Michigan should manage and improve its mental health care system. The question is, how many of those recommendations will be turned into actual policies?
gophouse.com

Now that state lawmakers have cobbled together a roads package, the spotlight can turn to fresh priorities.

For example, fixing Detroit’s collapsing school system.

The governor estimates it will take more than $700 million to rehabilitate Detroit’s public schools and warns that if the state doesn’t tackle the mammoth school debt, things will only get worse.

Two of the biggest topics of the week when it comes to Michigan politics involved the proposal to mandate employers to let workers earn paid sick time and the effort to put gerrymandering on the ballot in 2018.
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Several hundred demonstrators chanted “enough is enough” at a state Capitol rally opposing Governor Rick Snyder’s proposed reorganization of the Detroit Public Schools.

  

The rally was organized by the teachers union, which brought in members by the busload to protest and to lobby state lawmakers.

Michigan state Capitol
Mattileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The emergency manager of the Detroit school district took a trip to Lansing today to ask state lawmakers for help. Darnell Earley was hoping to win support for Governor Rick Snyder’s plan to bail out the district.

  

Earley told the state House budget subcommittee on K-12 school spending that the district’s massive debt is standing in the way of improving academic performance and fixing the business side of the operation.

Gov. Snyder at a press conference this month announcing his plan to overhaul the Detroit Public School District.
screenshot / Livestream

Gov. Rick Snyder this week announced his plan for overhauling Detroit Public Schools. It includes splitting the district and leaving the debt with the old DPS, while a new district would move forward with school operations and education. 

This Week in Michigan Politics, I talk with Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry about the investigation into the Flint water crisis, Governor Rick Snyder's plan to overhaul Detroit schools, and proposed changes in how teachers are evaluated.


Governor Rick Snyder yesterday unveiled his new plan to fix Detroit Public Schools. Actually, it is a variation on one he put forth in April. Like that plan, it seems heavily based on the model General Motors adopted to emerge from bankruptcy.

The schools would be divided into a “new” district and an “old” one.

The “old district” wouldn’t have anything to do with the kids, but would be saddled with paying down the district’s massive debts, now more than half a billion dollars. The “new” district would be run by a Detroit Education Commission and would be in charge of educating the students.

Jake Neher / MPRN

Gov. Rick Snyder wants the Legislature to adopt an expensive, controversial plan to overhaul Detroit’s schools by the end of the year.

Snyder outlined his plan in Detroit on Monday. The goal is to rescue Detroit Public Schools from crushing debt and dismal academic results.


Gov. Snyder at a press conference this month announcing his plan to overhaul the Detroit Public School District.
screenshot / Livestream

Gov. Snyder's plan would split the current school district in two.

Similar to the GM bankruptcy, there would essentially be an "old" Detroit Public Schools district and a new district.

The old district would pay down the school system's debt with the current school millage in Detroit.

Snyder says DPS is expected to have $515 million in operating debt by June 2016.

Snyder says that debt could be paid off over 10 years using the $70 million a year the millage brings in.

Governor Rick Snyder is facing a tough sell today as he tries to re-start the conversation on fixing Detroit’s schools. And, that’s just one of the political tough sells the Second Term Nerd is facing.

City of Detroit

As Lansing gears up to debate a radical reorganization of Detroit schools, Mayor Mike Duggan is pushing for a larger role in the city’s future education system.

Duggan outlined his vision for a complete education overhaul earlier this year.

It shares the same basic structure as Gov. Snyder’s proposal for Detroit schools, but differs on a few key points.

Both call for a bankruptcy-style restructuring — without the actual bankruptcy filing — that would split the Detroit Public Schools into “old” and “new” districts.

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

Governor Snyder says plans to overhaul Detroit’s education system should get moving in Lansing soon.

It’s not clear exactly what will be in those bills.

But in the past, Snyder has floated a bankruptcy-style plan for the debt-ridden Detroit Public Schools.

Detroit Public Schools

The Detroit Public Schools is in even bigger financial trouble than previously thought, according to a state report filed this week.

In its June 2015 quarterly report on school district deficits, the Michigan Department of Education pegged DPS’s annual budget deficit at $166,359,414.

Jake Neher / MPRN

There’s a deep divide at the state Capitol over plans to rescue Detroit Public Schools.

The governor hopes to sell lawmakers on a plan to restructure DPS and have the state pay off its massive debt. He says state-appointed emergency managers drove up that debt.

Many Michigan students finished up their first week of school today. While younger kids might see just another year of quizzes and tests, their parents are taking note of the effects of budget cuts and other administrative changes. We visited local schools to ask parents how things have changed this year.

Marc Grassi watches his daughter, Franca, eat breakfast before her first day of school at St. Clare of Montefalco in Grosse Point Park, Michigan.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

On her first day of school, Franca Grassi woke up, ate a bowl of oatmeal with diced nectarines and maple syrup. She brushed her teeth with the help of a Mickey Mouse iPhone app. Then her parents, Nikki Rittenour and Marc Grassi, drove her to school in their station wagon.

moare / MorgueFile

Michigan expects there will be a shortage of teachers in certain subjects this school year. Early childhood, special education, foreign language and a variety of occupational teachers are facing a “critical” shortage.

Friends School Detroit / via Facebook

Michigan’s only Quaker-run school is closing its doors—at least for now.

Detroit’s Friends School told parents the news this week.

Parents and board members say it’s a huge blow to the school and larger Detroit communities.

Out of the 38 under-performing schools that could be closed in Michigan, 25 of them are located in Metro Detroit.
Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Each week  Jennifer White speaks to Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, about the latest in state politics.

This week, they discussed the federal civil rights complaint filed by the Detroit Public Schools elected board against Governor Rick Snyder.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools’ elected board has filed a federal civil rights complaint against Governor Rick Snyder.

The Title VI complaint — the portion of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which deals with discrimination claims against institutions that receive federal funds — asks the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate a number of allegations against the district and its state-appointed officials.

Life Remodeled

Some 9,000 volunteers are remodeling Osborn High School in Detroit this week.

Last year, the same group – called Life Remodeled – focused on Cody High School, on the other side of the city. The non-profit even raised $1 million to build Cody a new football field.

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