The outgoing emergency manager of the Detroit public schools estimates it would cost more than $50 million to address the immediate maintenance issues in the district’s aging buildings.
In the meantime, the district has begun using money budgeted for other departments to fix the most urgent building problems. The district announced Monday that $300,000 will be redirected to handle existing work orders, property maintenance, and safety violations uncovered by the city during recent inspections.
“The district remains committed to making the necessary repairs to its buildings in order to provide our students and staff with a clean, safe environment in which to learn and work,” Darnell Earley, the district’s emergency manager, said in a statement.
Earley’s statement did not indicate what departments the funds were diverted from. The district has faced withering criticism in recent weeks because of the poor condition of many of its schools.
Under orders from Mayor Mike Duggan, city workers have inspected about half of Detroit’s nearly 100 schools, uncovering issues with mold, rodents, and broken glass.
To protest the school conditions, teachers staged several sickouts in the past six weeks, calling in sick in such large numbers that classes had to be canceled in dozens of schools. Detroit’s teachers’ union sued the district last month demanding that Gov. Rick Snyder remove Earley immediately.
Earley plans to leave the district by the end of February, months before his scheduled departure.
A release from Earley’s office says the district is aiming to complete as many repairs as possible before the end of March, because the financially strapped school system is projected to deplete its cash reserves in April.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.