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Senate could vote on Detroit schools bailout soon

Brett Levin
Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state Senate could vote this week on a Detroit Public Schools bailout plan, even though it’s a departure from the bipartisan compromise already adopted by the chamber.        

This new plan is a Republican-only proposal that cleared the state House last week with no support from Democrats. Their main complaint is there’s no control over the location of new charter schools in the city.

The earlier Senate version had the backing of Democrats, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and Governor Rick Snyder.

Senate Republican spokeswoman Amber McCann says the caucus needs to take a look at this new direction.

“I think they’re still digesting the details,” McCann said. "I think there will be a lengthy discussion about the changes that were made from the plan passed by the Senate a while ago, and I expect we will try to v vote on DPS this week in the Senate.”

The plan would set aside $617 million dollars to pay off the district’s debts before it goes bankrupt at the end of the month, and aid the transition to a new school system. It also returns control of the district to a locally elected school board.

But it’s a plan that’s only supported by Republicans – while it’s critics include Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Democrats like state Senator David Knezek.

“That’s not a serious plan. It’s not the best we can do by the children of Detroit. We need to go back to the drawing board, and come up with a better solution,” Knezek said.

Knezek says one thing that’s missing is more controls on where new charter schools could locate in the city.

Governor Rick Snyder agrees. But he says, even without that provision, the plan before the state Senate represents progress.

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