Pressure is mounting for Michigan lawmakers to find more funding for Detroit Public Schools, after the teachers union called for another day of sickouts over possible “payless paydays” for employees this summer. Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes urged state lawmakers to pass a $715 million package to rescue the debt-ridden district. A union-sponsored protest last May 2 closed 94 of the district’s 97 schools.
The Detroit Federation of Teachers organized the sickout after the system’s chief manager said, without more money from the state, he would be unable to pay teachers the salaries owed in July and August, and summer school would be canceled. The union reports that almost two-thirds of teachers spread the payments over the full year, from September through August. Other teachers rely on additional earnings from summer school. The district’s year-end budget deficit ballooned to a projected $320 million this year, and to avoid a complete shutdown in April, the Legislature approved $48.7 million in emergency aid. The school district, which was not included in the city’s 2013-2014 bankruptcy, saw a sharp decline in enrollment. According to city data, more than half the students going to publicly funded schools in the city attend charter schools, which leaves Detroit Public Schools with just 46,000 students, down from 167,000 in 2000.