Ohio & Michigan's Oldest and Largest Latino Newspaper

Since 1989




    media kit    ad specs    classified ad rates    about us    contact us


Senate boss wants more done to fix Detroit schools

LANSING, Mich. July 28, 2008 (AP)  Entering touchy terrain, the Legislature's top Republican is prodding state officials for more information on plans to fix a dire financial mess in the Detroit Public Schools, Michigan's largest district.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan is working with the district, which has approved $522 million in spending cuts over the next two years. But Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop says the scale of the problem ``rises to a different level.''

What lawmakers could do down the line remains unclear, yet it's no secret Republicans think Detroit should have more charter schools. The Legislature allocates money to K-12 schools.

``You can't blame the teachers, you can't blame the parents, you can't blame the kids for what's going on in the structure around them,'' Bishop told The Associated Press last week. ``They're in a structure that doesn't work. We can't expect if we throw more money at it it's all of a sudden going to go online again. It just won't.''

Bishop, R-Rochester, spoke after sending a letter to Flanagan asking what criteria he's using to decide if Detroit schools have a serious financial problem. If such a determination is made, state law would open the door for Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm to get involved and appoint an emergency financial manager.

Bishop says Detroit Democrats shouldn't worry about another state takeover of the district. Former Republican Gov. John Engler led a takeover in 1999 that ended in 2005. Opponents, who hated being the only city in the state without a fully empowered school board, say the district's financial situation got worse under state control.

``This is not a takeover,'' Bishop said. ``This is just our way of trying to be given some information necessary to our decision making and see if there's a way we can assist the public schools in Detroit. We can't continue to sit by and let this happen because (the district's) just collapsing on itself.''

A message seeking comment was left with a Detroit Public Schools spokesman.

Bishop cites a recent report by the Washington-based Council of the Great City Schools, which found the district lacks a long-term finance plan and financial policies and procedures.

Detroit has spent $208 million more on teachers than it budgeted for them since 2003-04. There are no plans to take care of 120 problems cited in a 2006-07 audit, according to the report.

The 104,000-student district is expected to lay off more than 1,700 employees over two years. But the report says despite the district closing one-fourth of its schools in recent years, it will have 18 more high schools than needed within three years because of declining enrollment.

More schools must be closed, Bishop said.

For now, state officials are waiting to see a detailed deficit elimination plan from the district by Aug. 15. Then they expect to decide as quickly as possible if further steps are needed under a process triggered by a Senate measure passed in late June.

``We've been working with the district a long time,'' said Michigan Department of Education spokesman Martin Ackley. ``We expect many of the financial issues that the Senate is concerned with will be addressed in the plan.''

Ackley says no takeover is in the works and adds 24 other districts in the state have deficits.

``We want to give the local school board every opportunity to make the right decisions,'' he said.

A new state school aid package for all K-12 districts including Detroit is awaiting the governor's signature.

While the bill would keep in place certain financial advantages for Detroit, it's opposed by some Detroit Democrats who say it would let competing schools open within the city. Bishop says he thinks Bay Mills Community College would like to expand its charter school operations into Detroit.

One report says Detroit graduates just 25 percent of its students.

``Those are the very students that need us the most right now,'' Bishop said. ``It basically makes no sense for us to throw good money after bad if we're not getting any performance out of it.''

But Sen. Irma Clark-Coleman, a former president of Detroit's school board, is wary of legislators' motives and opposes taking away Detroit's power to limit competition from charter schools. Schools get state aid on a per-pupil basis, hurting districts like Detroit that are losing students.

``This move will further contribute to the declining enrollment that the district is currently experiencing,'' said Clark-Coleman, D-Detroit.






Web laprensa





«Tinta con sabor»     Ink with flavor!



Spanglish Weekly/Semanal

Your reliable source for current Latino news and events with English and Spanish articles.
Contact us at [email protected] or call (419) 870-6565



Culturas Publication, Inc. d.b.a. La Prensa Newspaper

© Copyrighted by  Culturas Publication, Inc. 2008