The Emergency Manger of the Detroit Public Schools and former Emergency Manger of the city of Flint, Darnell Earley, will be leaving office on February 29, 2016, says the Governor’s office. His term was to end in June.
This does not mean the end of emergency management for the district. Governor Rick Snyder will announce his appointment of someone to lead DPS by the end of the month.
“Darnell has done a very good job under some very difficult circumstances. I want to thank him for his professionalism and his service to the people of Michigan,” Governor Snyder said in a statement. “He restructured a heavily bureaucratic central office, set in place operating and cost-containment measures, and has taken steps to stabilize enrollment. These factors should all set the course for a sustainable, new Detroit Community Schools, as I have proposed.”
These intervention efforts haven’t greatly improved student performance or their balance sheet, and the district is expected to end this school year with a $335-million accumulated deficit. Since 2000, DPS has lost more than 100,000 students and shuttered 195 schools, as well as the condition of the buildings that are still open has been called into heavy question.
That deficit number is an increase from $216 million at the end of last year, with the total debt at a staggering estimate of $3.5 billion. A debt that the most experts agree the state of Michigan as a whole is on the hook for.
Hearings begin on Thursday in the state Senate of a plan the Governor has to split DPS into an “old” and “new” district, with the “old” district taking the debt and the “new” district continuing operations, with a nine member board appointed by the governor and Detroit mayor Mike Duggan.
There is sizable opposition to such a plan in the legislature, who isn’t very motivated to lend a hand to Detroit even though in the end, they’re going to be the ones stuck with the tab. The clock is ticking as the district runs out of cash in April. The governor has said in the past that his plan could cost the state up to $715 million over 10 years.