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Snyder scales back proposed overhaul of Detroit schools

The former Carstens Elementary School building, on Detroit's east side, is one of many, many schools that have been shuttered in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett
Michigan Radio
Detroit Public Schools is offering 45 schools to charter companies.

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s slowing down his plans to fix Detroit’s schools in order to get the process moving. In the face of resistance from Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature, the governor says he wants to break up the work, focusing first on retiring the district’s massive debt.

“I always want to move faster when I can, but I’m just being pragmatic here to say, the most time-sensitive is the financial piece of it,” Snyder said in a year-end interview with Michigan Public Radio. “…That’s something that I’d like to see in the earlier part of next year, so it can be implemented by summertime of next year.”

Snyder wants to break the district’s operations into two. One would assume the district’s debt, while the other would focus on educating children. The debt would be paid by city property taxpayers, while the new district would be paid for out of the state School Aid Fund.

The governor says other issues, such as how the new district will be governed, can wait. The Detroit schools are currently being run by a state-appointed emergency manager.

Members of the Legislature’s Detroit delegation want an immediate return of authority to an elected school board to be part of a district overhaul.

The governor says if the Legislature does not act early next year, the state could lose much of its leverage over the situation if creditors take the district to court.

Bills to overhaul the district are expected to be introduced in the Legislature early next year. 

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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