Jacques: Relief in sight for DPS

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

The state House signaled Thursday that it was on board with legislative help for Detroit Public Schools amid warnings the district could face payless paydays as soon as April 8.

Gov. Rick Snyder had requested $50 million in emergency funding, and the House came close by approving $48.7 million; the money is coming from the state’s tobacco settlement fund.

If the full Legislature signs off, then that money should get the district through June. And that gives lawmakers a bit more breathing room as they iron out details of a broader financial and governance proposal for DPS.

The House also passed part of its bill package to revive DPS. The House is moving faster at this point on its plan for Detroit schools than the Senate, which hasn’t yet gotten its bills out of committee.

Parts of the House plan mesh with the Senate one, in that it would expand the Detroit Financial Review Commission, which oversees the city finances, to include the school district. But it’s different apart from that and the $715 million bailout package.

The House also wants to institute a 401(k) retirement plan for new DPS employees as well as strengthen penalties for striking teachers in the district.

If that passes the House, it will face opposition in the Senate, which is having a hard enough time getting support for its version.

At least the conversation is in progress. Lawmakers should send the emergency appropriation to Detroit and give themselves a little more time to finish the big-picture reforms.