Snyder Proposes Legislation to Improve Detroit Public Schools

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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder today announced proposed legislation for Detroit Public Schools that would create a new public school district to teach the 47,000 students. As a result, the current district would exist only to address debt.

“This is an opportunity to recast a structure that isn’t meeting the needs of the city’s families for a variety of reasons,” Snyder says. “Starting with a plan presented by community leaders, we have crafted a new approach that will give families quality public school options while stabilizing district finances.”

Snyder says the legislation, to be introduced this month, builds on recommendations from the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. The legislative package says all students, employees, contracts, employee benefits, and assets will move to the new district, called the Detroit Community School District, which will be governed by a seven-member board initially appointed by the state governor and the Detroit mayor. He says the district would return to an all-elected board by 2021.

In addition, the governor and mayor will appoint a Detroit Education Commission, whose role is to engage with the community and hire a chief education officer. The chief education officer will be responsible for holding low-performing schools accountable and rewarding and increasing the number of high-performing schools.

The chief education officer will also operate a common enrollment system with common forms, enrollment periods, and notification dates, and partner with the city’s current Financial Review Commission to oversee finances until the debt is fully repaid.

Snyder says current debt payments take $1,100 per pupil out of the classroom. Detroit Public Schools enrollment has dropped by nearly 100,000 students in the past decade, which Snyder says contributes to the district accumulating more than $500 million in operating debt.

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