Snyder Announces Overhaul of Detroit Public Schools


Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has announced a complete overhaul of Detroit Public Schools.

The plan would see a new district, City of Detroit Education District, operating schools in the area.  The new district would then be managed by a school board made up of seven residents of Detroit.  The members will initially be appointed by the mayor and governor, but will be replaced by elected members in 6 years.

The current Detroit Public Schools would also continue to run under the operation of an emergency manager in an effort to pay off current debt within the district.  An existing local millage of about $72 million per year will be used to pay the debt, while the state will fund the new district, writes Heather Catallo for WXYZ.

“We know the system we have in place now has not worked for too many years for too many students and their families,” Snyder said in a press release. “We’re collaborating on a new approach to help children get the education they need and deserve so they can be successful. Detroit has made tremendous strides as a city, but it needs strong public schools to truly thrive from downtown to the neighborhoods.”

The plan would also create a five-member Detroit Education Commission that would work together to hire an education manager, who would then oversee pubic schools within the city.  The board will oversee a number of things that effect all students within the district, including enrollment, reports Ann Zaniewski for The Detroit Free Press.

According to Governor Snyder, the plan is not a “bailout.”  While it will require some changes to the state law, he said he is willing to work with the legislature and Detroit leaders in order to make it happen.

In anticipation of the announcement, 18 schools in Detroit cancelled classes as hundreds of teachers traveled to Lansingburgh to protest the suggested reforms.  Steve Conn, head of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, said that protesting was not sending the wrong message, adding that parents and students are expected to join the movement.

“It sends the message that we’re fighting back and we’re not taking this any more,” Conn said outside the Michigan Capitol Thursday morning. “People are on our side and they understand the issue here, and they’re joining with us and supporting us.”

A recent report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan found that splitting the district would cost the state School Aid Fund $72 millio to fund the new district.  Each student in the state would lose about $50 in the process.