Approved with only Republican support, the plan will create two district entities—one to pay off debt and one to operate schools.
The Michigan Legislature has passed a $617-million package to rescue the financially teetering Detroit school district.
The Detroit Free Press reports that supporters of the plan say it pays off the school district's debt, provides transition costs for when the system splits into two districts, and returns the district to a locally elected school board in January. The plan passed with only Republican votes in both the House and Senate.
Gov. Rick Snyder, who is expected to sign the legislation into law, hailed the bailout and restructuring as an “unprecedented investment” in Detroit’s children.
Some lawmakers may have supported the bailout plan with little enthusiasm, but proponents of the plan contended that the likely alternative was allowing Detroit Public Schools to go into bankruptcy, which would end up costing the state and other school districts much more than the $617 million included in the legislation.
The plan will provide $467 million to the district to help pay off its debt and another $150 million in transition costs for when the district is split in two. The old district will exist just to pay of the $515 million operating deficit, and the new district will be responsible for running the school system.
Democrats in the House and Senate were unanimous in their opposition to the plan because it did not include establishing a Detroit Education Commission, which would have authority over some charter and public schools, especially where the schools are situated.
Opponents also objected to a provision that allows uncertified teachers to teach in the district, and one that allows sanctions against districts, administrators and teachers if it’s found that they engaged in an illegal strike.