Gov. Snyder Signs Detroit City School District Bailout Plan
Governor Rick Snyder officially signed off on a bailout plan for Detroit’s struggling public schools that will allot $617 million for a complete restructuring of the district.
“This marks a new day for Detroit families, with DPS free from debt and strong accountability measures for all schools in the city that promises a brighter future for all of Detroit’s children,” Snyder said in a statement.
The governor’s signature comes two weeks after the bill narrowly passed through the highly partisan and Republican-controlled State House and Senate, with a 55-54 vote and a 19-18 vote, respectively. Democrats argue that the spending is not nearly enough to address the 100 schools and 46,000 students in the Detroit public district, which has been under state management for the past seven years.
The new plan will split the district into two units. The existing district will be maintained for the next 8.5 years in order to retire its debt, while the new district can begin with a clean financial slate.
“If you do this, you are systematically spelling the end of the Detroit Public Schools system,” said state Senator Bert Johnson of Highland Park, a Democrat who opposed the bailout.
Schools have been notably suffering from rapidly declining enrollments and teacher protests. “Parents are already concerned,” Johnson said. “I think it’s going to drive enrollment further into the ground.”
The deep divide between state Democrats and Republicans over the bill is in stark contrast to the cooperation between parties two years ago that assisted the Detroit city government with $195 million to put an end to its bankruptcy. There were an average 3,422 bankruptcy filings across the country every day in February 2015, which is precisely what the State hopes to avoid by bailing out the Detroit public school system with its current plan.
“This legislation gives Michigan’s comeback city a fresh start in education,” Snyder said. “Now the residents of Detroit need to engage with their schools and help find good leaders who can provide the best possible chance of success for families in the city.”