News Story

Detroit Schools Deteriorated, Questions On $500 Million Bond

Public still awaits the full story

During this past school year, the condition of the Detroit Public Schools’ buildings made national news.

For example, Detroit teacher Shalon Miller wrote about her poor working conditions in an article published by The Washington Post.

While the media coverage focused on the poor conditions of the schools, it did not mention that in November 2009, taxpayers approved a $500.5 million millage for DPS, specifically to improve the condition of the district's buildings.

Miller wrote in The Washington Post: “I wonder why my students are left in the worst conditions possible.” And she said Wednesday that taxpayers should have the same concerns.

But it’s unclear what that half a billion earmarked to improve DPS facilities was spent on. The district has yet to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request filed July 5 by Michigan Capitol Confidential asking for details of expenditures. School officials have confirmed the money has all been spent.

“Any concerned citizen would like to know where their tax dollars have gone,” Miller said. “Teachers want to know. We don’t know either. We haven’t had those answers either. Where is the money? We want to know also. Teachers have been screaming that from the rafters.”

Miller blamed the state of Michigan for the condition of the school buildings. “This is a state issue,” she said. “People want to put it in the lap of Detroit.”

Here’s an excerpt from Miller’s article: “Classrooms have old, drafty windows that are poorly insulated. In some rooms, we have to wear winter coats in class until lunch time. In other rooms, it can be ridiculously hot. Both temperature conditions are extremely distracting to the educational process. It’s hard for kids to concentrate when their hands are freezing or they’re sweating profusely. When it rains, water leaks into the classrooms from the roof. We have had to place buckets under the leaks and pray for dry weather. Unfixed structural damage causes water-soaked tiles to frequently fall from the ceiling of classrooms. The carpet has an ever-present moldy smell.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.