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New DPS plan: Deficit gone by 2023, teachers regain lost pay

The Detroit Public Schools has laid out new plans to erase its red ink.

The district’s revised deficit elimination plan still awaits state approval. But if approved, it would result in a small surplus by 2023, says district spokesman Steve Wasko.

“This is a different type of deficit elimination plan, in that it does foresee a lengthier period of time to ultimately resolve the entire legacy deficit--but attempts to do that in a more moderate way,” says Wasko.

That includes gradual restoration of a 10% pay concession to district employees over several years. Wasko says DPS realized it needs to provide a “more competitive compensation schedule” to attract and retain staff.

That’s welcome news for DPS teachers, says Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson. The district experienced a chronic teacher shortage early in the school year, and is still struggling to fill some vacancies.

“We have to address the issue of compensation and benefits,” Johnson says. “People should not feel like they have to pay to come to work.”

Wasko says the revised plan also assumes the district’s—and the city’s—population stabilizes within the next several years, resulting in more stable tax revenues and per-pupil funding.

It’s not clear when the Michigan Department of Education plans to take up the revised deficit elimination plan. DPS emergency manager Jack Martin withdrew an earlier version this year, with state permission, after a backlash against some measures including a further pay cut for employees.

DPS has had some type of state oversight for about 10 of the past 15 years, and been under some form of emergency management since 2009.

Its current deficit stands at almost $170 million.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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