Mayor Mike Duggan is leaning on the Michigan Legislature to push forth a plan to return control of the Detroit Public Schools district to local elected leaders, telling reporters at a press conference today that he has been in regular contact with Lansing lawmakers to make a deal happen.
Duggan today was joined by several bank presidents and nonprofit foundation leaders to announce the Detroit Home Mortgage Initiative, but briefly spoke about the condition of Detroit Public Schools and emphasized his plan that would appoint a transitional board before Detroit residents elect a seven-member school board in November.
The mayor did not say whether bankruptcy was an option for the district, which is $515 million in debt, but did say it was imperative to “get the debt of these teachers’ back…and you’ll soon have Detroit teachers perform at the capacity they’re capable of.”
Duggan also expressed displeasure at the city’s charter schools. There are 17 charter operators in the city running failing schools, something Duggan said needs to be rectified.
“Every school needs to achieve at the same standard,” Duggan said, suggesting a board that would oversee charter operators in the city.
Duggan also said the city is “on the verge of a consent agreement” to make repairs in DPS schools, which have been inspected by the city in recent weeks following outcry from teachers and students in the district.
Most leaders agree that making Detroit attractive to families is paramount to the city’s rebound. Duggan mentioned that several families are paying upward of $1,000 in rent in homes they could own – one of the many kickstarters for today’s mortgage program announcement. Fixing the schools is another cornerstone of the city’s progress.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was also on hand for today’s announcement, though he left shortly after addressing the crowd and did not talk about Flint water, the collapse of the Educational Achievement Authority or the conditions of Detroit Schools.