Michigan Governor Backs Detroit Schools Bailout Plan

By Corey Mitchell — June 09, 2016 2 min read
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Despite staunch opposition from Detroit’s mayor and state lawmakers, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will likely sign a series of bills designed to bail out the citys’ debt-ridden Detroit public schools.

The $617 million legislative package would provide $467 million to help pay off the district’s debt, and $150 million in transition costs to create a new, debt-free district to educate students.

State lawmakers from Detroit lobbied against the legislative package, but their colleagues in the legislature faced a choice: Back the plan or allow the district to go into bankruptcy, which could end up costing the state much more than the $617 million. The district was expected to run out of money at the end of June.

Under the plan, Detroit voters will elect a new school board in November with members taking office in January. The state would retain some oversight of the district’s finances under the new deal, but it would represent a significant change for the district, which has been run by state-appointed managers since 2009.

Despite the planned return to local control, some Detroiters remain upset that the legislative package didn’t include the Detroit Education Commission, their plan for a mayor-appointed panel that would have some authority over public and charter schools in the city, especially on where the schools are located.

The plan does allow for an advisory council that would produce reports on where schools and transportation are needed in the city, but their recommendations wouldn’t be binding.

The bills now head to Snyder’s desk. He signaled his support for the legislation in a series of tweets Thursday.

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