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Monday, February 21, 2011

Michigan State Education Officials Order Robert Bobb To Close Half Of Detroit's Schools

A sign of the times? How is this good public policy?    oops, forgot that no one cares whether it is or not. I'd love to see Mr. Bobb's contract, to see what the responsibilities are for "emergency financial planner".

Betsy Combier
Detroit Schools Closing: Michigan Officials Order Robert Bobb To Shut Half The City's Schools
Huffington Post 
DETROIT (AP) -- State education officials have ordered the emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools to immediately implement a plan that balances the district's books by closing half its schools.

The Detroit News says the financial restructuring plan will increase high school class sizes to 60 students and consolidate operations.

State superintendent of public instruction Mike Flanagan says in a Feb. 8 letter that the state plans to install another financial manager who must continue to implement Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb's plan after he leaves June 30. Flanagan's said approval of Bobb's plan means the district can't declare bankruptcy.

Bobb filed his deficit elimination plan with the state in January, saying it would wipe out the district's $327 million deficit by 2014

Bobb was hired in March 2009 by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Robert Bobb lobbies For 4400M To Bail Out Detroit Public Schools
Huffington Post 11/16/10
Since taking the position as Detroit Public Schools' emergency financial planner, Robert Bobb has pushed for extensive reforms to cut the huge budget deficit hanging over the Michigan school system.

With his latest proposal, Bobb is hoping to convince state legislators to redirect $400 million in tobacco revenue to help dig schools out of their current financial state.

According to The Detroit News,

Without the financial assistance, Bobb said DPS -- steeped in a $327 million deficit -- would have to implement more "draconian cuts" such as reducing the number of schools by half, increasing class sizes to 62 in high schools and boosting fees to play sports, according to documents submitted to the state.

The school districts receiving money would be required to submit plans detailing the changes they would make to prevent falling into deficits in the future.

Bobb would need a political leader to back his plan. So far, no representative has stepped forward to introduce a bill to the state legislature.

Bobb's plan remains controversial for several reasons. According to the Detroit Free Press, some have lost confidence in Bobb's leadership and his ability to reduce the deficit.

Another reason for the stall: Bobb's plan includes reforms to the education system that the teachers unions vehemently oppose.

The Detroit Free Press reports,

The plan has raised the ire of teachers unions because in order to get the assistance, districts would make major changes including eliminating teacher seniority, changing tenure requirements, implementing merit pay and working a longer school year.

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