The Detroit News reported the latest plans for the beleaguered Detroit Public School district. Under state control for three years, Detroit is now run by an emergency financial manager with dictatorial powers.
First the good news: ”Detroit Public Schools’ proposed 2012-13 school year budget supports a system of schools focused on innovation and robust school choices, data-driven programs to enhance teaching and learning, including new Individual Learning Maps for every child, and highly qualified teachers selected after new teacher evaluation and interviewing processes,” Emergency Manager Roy S. Roberts said. Roberts is a former auto industry executive.
Now the bad news: “For the second year in a row, DPS is cutting its budget by nearly a quarter, from $1.03 billion last year to $784 million for the new fiscal year. It cut $231 million from its budget for the 2011-12 year as well as 800 staff positions.” This year, there will be 1,900 layoffs, as 15,000 students are transferred to the new state authority in charge of failing schools. “Class sizes will remain at 25 in grades K-3, and rise by three to 33 for grades 4-5 and 38 for grades 6-12, returning to levels from 2010-11.” Last year, the teachers took a 10% pay cut.
Now the really good news: The district will have a surplus of $11.9 million at the end of the current fiscal year!
Think about it: Some of the poorest and neediest children in one of the most economically depressed cities in America will have some of the most crowded classes in the nation.
The district is on life support. But never fear, there will be “highly qualified teachers,” “innovation,” “robust school choices,” “data-driven programs,” etc. The lyrics are familiar, but there is no music.