Student pictures recovered after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans

 By Diane Bukowski

PART ONE: Revised Deficit Elimination Plan


DETROIT – Detroit Public Schools czar Robert Bobb announced Mar. 12 that he plans to convert 41 schools to charters before he leaves the district this year, allegedly to avoid closing them. He proposed other alternative scenarios to a revised deficit elimination plan (DEP) approved by the state in February, including one that would dissolve DPS to pay off its debt, and create a new district.

Bobb may be playing “good cop, bad cop” with the state to attain an objective that has been the goal of both all along. But one thing is clear: the only entities that will benefit from the DEP or Bobb’s alternate scenarios are the banks and corporations.

The children of Detroit are being thrown to the wolves.

Christal Bonner (photo from Facebook page)

“Educating our children is a right, not a privilege,” DPS parent Christal Bonner, who has six children in DPS, told a Senate committee Feb. 23. “[What has happened under Bobb] has increased unemployment, created overcrowded classes, and decreased property values in Detroit. His actions have violated the First Amendment, freedom of speech, the 13th Amendment because he has brought us back to servitude, the 14th Amendment, and the amendments which guarantee our right to vote. Bobb is a dictator like Hitler.”

The revised DEP, which was provided to the VOD by Jan Ellis, spokesperson for State Schools Superintendent Mike Flanagan, involves closing 100 schools from 2011 to 2014. It includes massive lay-offs, hundreds of which have taken place already, wholesale privatization, and regionalization of DPS functions. (See chart below, and click on DEP_2011_Contingent_Approval_letter_2-8-11[1]  to read entire narrative revised DEP narrative).

The DEP says the cutbacks would save about $282 million over three years. The school closings alone are projected to save only $56.4 million during those years.

But meanwhile, nearly ONE BILLION DOLLARS, $957.4 million will be deducted from the district’s per pupil aid in just two of those years, to pay off DPS debt to the banks. (Click on DPS 2011_Certain_Reimbursement_Agreement_and_Certificate_of_Set_Aside_Requirements to read Jan. 11 set-aside document, which is posted on the DPS website.)

In the narrative for the DEP, Bobb says, “The District will close 30 schools in FY 2011, 40 schools in FY 2012, and 30 schools in FY 2013. This will leave the District with 72 (number of schools will decrease to 59 when the other proposals detailed below are included) schools to educate approximately 58,570 students. The estimated savings for FY 2011 is $23 million.”

Regarding class sizes, Bobb says, “Beginning in FY 2011, the District will be increasing class sizes in grades 4-12 and at all grade levels in FY 2012 for estimated savings of $16.8 million. The DEP includes the implementation of a “lecture hall” model of instruction in grades 9-12 in FY 2012 consistent with what students would expect in large university settings and consistent with policy objectives we have previously heard articulated by MDE officials for projected savings of $32.7 million in FY 2012 and $7.7 million in FY 2014. The table below outlines the class size increases.”

Transportation provided to General Education Students will be eliminated.

Post-Katrina school bus

“The District proposes to, beginning in FY 2012, eliminate general education student transportation and provide transportation to special education students with an approved Individual Education Plan (IEP),” the revised DEP says. “Currently, the District provides transportation to approximately 23,200 students and provides 21,500 free and reduced bus passes to students at a cost of $1.2 million annually. It is estimated that eliminating bus passes and general education student transportation will save $14.7 million.”

Most attendance agents will be gone.

“The District proposes to, beginning in FY 2012, abolish the 15 General Funded attendance agents for an estimated savings of $1.4 million. Due to supplanting issues, the District will lose the $3.8 million in funding for the 66 attendance agents funded by Title I. This will leave the District with four attendance agents funded by Section 31a funding.”

Students at Davis Aerospace High School in Detroit

Career and Technical Education Centers including the acclaimed Davis Aerospace, Second Chance Programs, Alternative Schools, and JROTC will be eliminated.

In a letter granting contingent approval to the DEP plan dated Feb. 8, Flanagan told Bobb that DPS must make monthly reports to the state indicating the implementation of the changes in the plan. Before he leaves office, he must submit signed documents indicating agreements with the City of Detroit, Wayne County, and Wayne County RESA that they will take over (regionalize) various DPS functions.

“The DEP and the contingencies detailed in this letter must be implemented immediately,” Flanagan wrote. “If at any time during the course of the DEP the governance of the district changes to another Emergency Financial Manager or an elected school board, the DEP as approved must continue to be implemented. (Click on DEP_2011_Contingent_Approval_letter_2-8-11[1]  to read entire letter.)

The state, through Treasurer Andy Dillon, has already indicated that it plans to appoint another EFM after Bobb leaves on May 31. Dillon has been training over 40 EFM’s to take over city governments and school districts, pursuant to Gov. Rick Snyder’s pending approval of draconian EFM legislation that would grant virtually unlimited powers to EFM’s. (Go to VOD article, Class War In Michigan at http://voiceofdetroit.net/?p=4622 to see chart summarizing proposals at House level.)

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