Cash-strapped Detroit school system 'cannot afford to pay its teachers'

10th March 2016 at 12:10
man with empty pockets
Teachers in Detroit are facing the prospect of not being paid after April 8 because the city’s public school system is running out of cash so quickly, a lead official warned this week.

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES USA on Twitter and like TES US on Facebook.

Steven Rhodes, the state-appointed emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools, said urgent action was needed to deal with the school system’s growing debt problem or else teachers will not receive a pay packet beyond April.

Mr Rhodes, who was parachuted in earlier this month, and superintendent Alycia Meriweather gave the warning while giving evidence to the members of the House Appropriations Committee.

The pair urged the House to agree a plan to deal with the district’s debt problem, according to local news reports.

“The April 8th date concerns me greatly because there is no Plan B,” he said, according to the Detroit News. “To go dark after April 8th is not an acceptable solution.”

“We cannot print money. We looked at some options, like expenses that could be deferred but that’s not enough to buy another two weeks of pay for teachers,” he added.

The city’s school system already has $515m worth of operating debt, and a total debt of an eye-watering $3bn.

The cash-strapped schools have been the center of national focus for some time, not least for the state of their dilapidated buildings.

The schools, some of which are infested with mold, rats and cockroaches, have forced teachers to lead mass walkouts or “sickouts” in a bid to draw greater attention to the problem.  

Speaking to reporters after his appearance at the hearing, Mr Rhodes warned that the system was in danger of running out of cash next month.

“We can pay employees for the work they do through April 8, but not after that... I cannot, in good conscience, ask teachers to work after April 8 knowing that I can't pay them when their paychecks are due two weeks later," he said, the Detroit Free Press reported.

A $50m package is needed urgently to carry schools through to the end of the academic year, but legislators cannot agree to a long term plan for the school system. 

Comments

Related Content

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now