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Detroit Cost-Cutting Includes 240 Early Retirements

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Between 230 and 240 Detroit school administrators have volunteered to take early retirement, effective Feb. 1, under an option offered by the board of education as a cost-saving measure.

The board acted last week to approve the retirements and to fill some of the vacancies with promotions, according to Marie Furcron, a spokesman for the district.

The offer was extended as part of the district's effort to erase a current-year operating deficit estimated to reach $158 million by June.

Anticipated changes in the district's leadership may have prompted more administrators to leave the system than the board had initially projected, said Rose Mary Osborne, a board member.

In November, voters ousted three school-board incumbents and replaced them with four candidates who vowed to take the district in new directions.

Arthur Jefferson, Detroit's superintendent of schools, has also said he would like to step down in June.

In addition, the Michigan Board of Education has recommended that the legislature authorize a state takeover of the district's financial operations if a solution to the deficit problem is not found this year.

"If [the state] is willing to finance the school system, I guess I'd have to step aside willingly," Ms. Osborne said.

As a result of the voters' rejection of a millage increase in November, the district was unable, for the second year, to meet its obligations under a two-year contract with teachers. The contract dispute is currently in binding arbitration, school officials said.--ws

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