Detroit teacher union urges local control

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Detroit – — The Detroit Federation of Teachers said Friday the governor should return the Detroit school district to local control since Emergency Manager Jack Martin’s term will expire Thursday.

“The appointment of another emergency manager for the Detroit Public Schools would be a travesty and in direct opposition to the democratic process,” wrote union Executive Vice President Edna Reaves.

The Detroit Public Schools was placed under state control and emergency management in March 2009 because it was running deficits every year.

But Reaves said three emergency managers have added $245 million in debt, leaving the district with a total of $450 million. The district also has a $169 million deficit, $42 million more than it projected in August.

“All of this despite the fact that employees took a 10 percent pay cut and have significantly increased out-of-pocket health care costs,” she said in a statement.

“Nowhere in the state has a school district been managed by three successive emergency managers. Instead of raising achievement and stabilizing the budget, the successive emergency managers have plunged the district into enormous debt and reduced resources to the classroom.

“Clearly Lansing does not know how to run school districts. EAA is the best example of that. Budgeting adequately, however, was something we were led to believe would happen with an emergency manager.

“We implore the governor to adhere to the law and provisions that the EM’s term expires on Jan. 15 and return the district to local control.”

Gov. Rick Snyder has indicated he wants to have a broad community dialogue this year about how to improve all public education in Detroit.

The governor also seems inclined to appoint another manager for the Detroit district.

“Internal discussions are being had, but it would be premature to comment at this time,” state Treasury Department spokesman Terry Stanton said Friday.