Citing the growing deficit at Detroit Public Schools, critics Monday blasted the payment of $50,000 in bonuses to the district’s former emergency manager.

Jack Martin, the third EM to run the state’s largest district since the state took control in March 2009, received payments of $23,000 for December 2013 and $27,000 for January 2015 under his contract, Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton said.

“While there were no particular benchmarks in his contract, Martin worked to stabilize enrollment, restored numerous programs at the elementary and middle school levels, redesigned career tech programs and sold or leased numerous unused or vacant properties, which generated millions of dollars for the district,” Stanton said in a statement.

Martin had a $225,000-a-year contract. His total compensation over the 18 months was $340,962, not including the bonus pay, Stanton said.

Steve Conn, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, objected to the payout.

“It’s grand theft of the people’s hard-earned money,” he said. “That bonus should go toward books and supplies, while here we have a man who pushed the deficit even higher.”

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson also criticized the bonuses in a statement.

“Handing out a massive $50,000 bonus to a failing political appointee at Detroit Public Schools isn’t the first time the Snyder administration has gotten caught handing out taxpayer-funded bonuses, raises and questionable payroll practices,” said Johnson. “These practices have no place in state government, let alone at a time of budget cuts, struggling schools and deteriorating roads.”

Martin did not respond Monday to a request for comment.

When he took office in July 2013, DPS had a deficit of $93.8 million. The district ended 2013-14 with a deficit of $169.4 million and projects a deficit of $164.5 million for 2014-15. The district’s enrollment was 51,318 in 2012-13, 48,511 in 2013-14 and, according to a preliminary count, 47,238 last fall.

Bob Floden, associate dean for research in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University, said Martin faced factors beyond his control.

“The emergency manager has some ability to reduce costs, but if reduced costs lead to reductions in quality, more students will leave, further reducing revenue,” Floden said. “DPS needs to make improvements that will draw students and associated revenue back.”

Read or Share this story: