Detroit Schools Close To Pay Pensions!
Update: 2/22/11 60 schools close and the Detroit Symphony goes on strike for better pay.
During its heyday, Detroit was the fourth largest city in the country. Not anymore and with the unions contracts, class sizes will swell to 62 students per teacher just to pay for the union contracts. I grew up 45 minutes away from Detroit. We drove down there for fun just to cross over into Windsor, Canada in 1978. It was always cool to say you had been out of the country that night. It was tough then, but nothing like I will share with you here.
Today Detroit is a skeleton of a city and the school system is even worse. Currently, there is a plan to abandon half the remaining schools just to cover the teachers contracts. A $327 million deficit sits on the table today and Detroit has already shut 59 schools. They where shuttered to save on maintenance, utility and other costs. Under the worst case scenario presented by Robert Bobb, the emergency financial manager, he will shut down 70 more of its remaining 142 schools to try and save $31.3 million through 2013.
Another $12 million could be saved by just abandoning the buildings. But can’t they be sold? Yes and no. The state board of education banned any transaction that would allow a competing entity to buy the school, i.e. a charter school. The doors and windows are welded shut, but still scavengers break in and steal the copper anyway. Eventually the school has no worth left and rots. Brilliant!
The plan will force up to 62 kids per classroom by 2014. But here is the catch.
According to the Detroit Federation of Teachers, any class size over 35 qualifies the teacher for “bonus” pay! The proverbial catch-22! The cost… $11.1 million! Any savings is eaten up by the extra pay.
In effect, by abandoning the schools to save money, they rot. Then Detroit pays out bonuses because of the increase class sizes, and the district no longer has a valuable asset to sell down the road. The downward spiral feeds upon itself.
Revenues are down because of the economy, lower property taxes, etc… just like in your town. But Detroit is on the cliff as there is no more land. If this what is left for public schools? How close is your school from facing the same decisions? In California, we are closing schools, withholding funding and at some point, the teeter-totter has to tip in the wrong direction. Is the goal to pay for pensions, or get our students educated and not in 60 student classroom sizes?
You may have to make that determination sooner than you think. How can our students compete in this environment?
Dorothy, we ain’t in Kansas anymore!
Delegate- California Republican Party
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