Rochester demonstrators back Senate bill to rescue DPS

The Detroit News

Rochester – Parents, students and others in the Rochester Community Schools rallied outside classroom buildings Monday in the Oakland County district to show support for a state Senate plan to rescue Detroit Public Schools.

The “Walk In for Public Education” included planned demonstrations outside 21 schools to exhibit solidarity with DPS students and teachers and “support for public education.”

The Rochester Community PTA Council led the event, which expressed support for having certified teachers in all DPS classes, a quick return to local control of the Detroit district and “adequate transitional funding.”

“We are reminding our lawmakers to put students at the center of any public education legislation,” Barb Anness, chairwoman of the Rochester Community PTA Council Legislative Committee, said in a statement.

The effort backed the state Senate’s version of legislation to pay off $515 million in DPS debt and support creation of a new, debt-free Detroit district.

The Senate bill would return DPS, which has been under state control since 2009, to oversight by a new school board to be elected this November. It also would provide $200 million in startup costs for the new district and establish an education commission with the power to open and close schools, which charter school advocates fiercely oppose.

A competing bill passed in the House provides just $33 million for startup costs, delays the return of local control until August 2017, allows the use of some uncertified teachers, limits union rights and omits the education commission.

The Michigan Department of Treasury projected earlier this month that a new Detroit school district would run out of money by its second month in operation under the House plan.

DPS Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes has warned that if the two chambers can’t agree on a final rescue package by June 30, the district will run out of money.