Severe budget problems could get all Detroit teachers laid off

Picture of Detroit skyline

Every public school teacher in Detroit, Mich., will be laid off in July if severe fiscal issues aren't resolved soon. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Every single public school teacher employed by the city of Detroit is being laid off, as well as all administrators. Starting July 29, no educator employed by the Motor City will have a job because of the deeply troubled finances of the city. People have been fleeing Detroit steadily for the past decade.

Motor City schools $327 million in debt

The public school system in the city of Detroit, Mich., is so plagued by financial problems that the city is being forced to lay off every single one of its teachers and school administrators, according to CNN. The Detroit School District has a $327 million deficit and issued emergency bonds in March to raise more than $230 million to keep itself functioning until August of this year. Though it was able to raise half a year’s budget, it was not sufficient, forcing drastic measures to be taken. First on the firing line was staff salaries. All 5,714 teachers in Detroit are receiving layoff notices as well as all school administrators. Effective on July 29, the city of Detroit will not employ a single teacher nor principal.

Urban decay writ large

Detroit, once a sprawling metropolis and industrial powerhouse, has been losing people steadily for more than a decade. Nearly 25 percent of its population has left the city in the past 10 years, leaving Detroit with the same number of people there were in 1910. A third of the city, according to MSNBC, sits vacant. The school district has 10,000 fewer students than in 2001. In March, when the Detroit School District went into crisis mode, a law titled Public Act 4 was passed by the Michigan legislature that granted broad powers to emergency financial managers hired by state and local governments. The law is being utilized by Robert Bobb, the emergency financial manager of Detroit’s public schools, as an emergency measure.

Not many will lose their jobs

Not all teachers who receive a layoff notice will actually end up being fired. Bobb, the emergency financial manager, is said to be restructuring Detroit schools in order to bring them in line with declining enrollment. However, he is also going to restructure the collective bargaining agreement that exists between the city and the Detroit Federation of Teachers. The district and the union reached an agreement in 2009 that cut back on teacher salaries and health benefits, which the union suspects Bobb of trying to circumvent. Detroit also is facing the possibility of a state takeover, according to Reuters, if it cannot get its fiscal issues under control. Detroit already has a $155 million deficit, which could grow to $1.2 billion by the fiscal year of 2015, which begins in July 2014. An emergency financial manager could be appointed by the state, who will take the city under direct control just like Bobb has done with Detroit schools.

Sources

CNN

MSNBC

Reuters

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