By Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press Education April 30, 2015
• Snyder wants to create new education boards whose members he and Mayor Mike Duggan would appoint.
• DPS teachers went to Lansing to protest the plan, forcing the closure of at least 18 DPS schools.
This is a update since this article was published:
[Mayor Mike Duggan expressed disappointment with Gov. Rick Snyder’s sweeping reforms of Detroit schools, and said he wants nothing to do with the proposed plan, the Detroit News reports.
Christine Ferretti of the News writes that Snyder’s proposal calls for Duggan to play a role in naming members to oversee the new district — the City of Detroit Education District — as well as a separate oversight commission.
“I have no interest in that role,” Duggan told The Detroit News. “I am very disappointed in this plan. In particular, that it basically creates long-term state control of local schools. State control of local schools is bad and it’s been a failure in Detroit.”]
Gov. Rick Snyder announced plans Thursday for a sweeping overhaul of Detroit’s education system, including a proposal to split Detroit Public Schools in two as a way to eliminate its crippling debt but at the expense of other districts across Michigan.
One entity would become a brand-new public school district, run by a seven-member school board appointed by Snyder and Mayor Mike Duggan. The state would contribute $53 million to $72 million annually to support it.
“It’s important to create a system of success for students in the City of Detroit,” Snyder said, adding that the future of Detroit and the state are linked to having strong city schools. He said he did not see the plan as a bailout.
Initial reaction included some high-profile criticism, including from state lawmakers and about 250 DPS teachers who missed a day of school to take up picket signs at the state Capitol.
The proposal calls for each entity — an “old” and “new” district — to be overseen by its own school board and subjected to a financial review board, similar to what was used in Detroit’s bankruptcy, until the debt is resolved.
Legislation would have to pass this fall so the split could take place by July 1, 2016. It is expected to be proposed this summer.
Snyder’s plan raises concerns about local control
The plan aims to holistically address not only the persistent financial distress of DPS but also the generally poor academic performance of public schools across the city.
“We’re just not seeing the results these students deserve,” Snyder said at a news conference at the Cadillac Place state office building in Detroit.
Officials said the new public school district — called the City of Detroit Education District — would absorb students, teachers, buildings and labor contracts. The new school board would have four appointees coming from Snyder and three from Duggan.
The new board would gradually morph into an elected school board, with two new elected members coming in 2017, two more in 2019 and three in 2021.
The current elected, largely powerless school board would move to the old district. So would DPS’s emergency manager, Darnell Earley.
The old district would exist to pay off the district’s $483 million in operating debt, using an existing 18-mill non-homestead property tax millage and other revenue. The new district would focus on educating children and collect the per-pupil funding that the state gives all school districts.