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Budget & Finance

Teacher Protests Shut Down More Than 90 Schools in Detroit

By Corey Mitchell — May 02, 2016 1 min read

Teacher protests shut down nearly all of Detroit’s public schools Monday amid concerns that the district won’t be able to pay any of its employees this summer.

In all, 94 of 97 schools closed as a result of a coordinated sickout called for by leaders of the teachers’ union.

The protest comes in response to an announcement by Detroit schools Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes that the district will run out of money at the end of June when its emergency aid expires.

That means some teachers who elect to have their checks spread out over the entire year, rather than just during the school year, won’t be paid for work they’ve already done.

Overall, the district is saddled with more than $500 million in debt.

Rhodes has said he would not ask Detroit schools’ employees to continue working without pay if the district couldn’t pay them.

But, during this weekend’s announcement, he also warned that a walkout would harm his efforts to convince state lawmakers to approve a $715 million plan to rescue the 46,000-student school district from financial collapse. The Detroit schools reform plan was approved in late March by the state Senate and is awaiting action in the state House.

The coordinated “sickouts,” where teachers call in sick en masse, began in November and have grown in size and scope since then as the frustrated educators continue to protest pay and benefit concessions, large class sizes, and building conditions that have left dozens of schools in disrepair.

Public school teacher strikes are illegal in Michigan. The series of sickouts in Detroit have had some state lawmakers searching for ways to tighten the definition of what constitutes a strike.

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.