News Story

Funding Up, But Detroit School Official Claims ‘Budget Cuts’ Stole Recess

Detroit schools getting $212 more per student this year, after $617 million taxpayer bailout in 2016

A story written by the nonprofit Chalkbeat news site was republished in Bridge magazine with the headline, “How deep are budget cuts at Detroit schools? Some can’t afford recess.” But according to the Michigan Department of Education, Detroit public schools received an additional $176 million from the state in 2017-18 compared to 2015-16, the year before Michigan lawmakers voted to contribute $617 million in taxpayer money to bail out the district.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District currently receive $9,501 per pupil in state dollars (not including local or federal money), which amounts to a $1,713 per-pupil increase compared to 2015-16.

The Chalkbeat story did not cite actual budget numbers. Instead, it quoted Detroit’s school board vice president, Angelique Peterson-Mayberry, as saying budget cuts were the reason the district couldn’t afford to have recess.

In an email, Peterson-Mayberry said she was referring to previous budget cuts when the district was under state control.

That could apply to any time from 2009 to spring 2017. In 2008, former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm appointed Robert Bobb as emergency manager, placing the district under a form of state receivership. He was succeeded by two managers appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, the second resigning in February 2016.

At that time, when the Legislature was debating a state bailout and restructuring for the financially insolvent district, Snyder appointed Judge Steven Rhodes as a transition manager for the district. Rhodes left the district in December 2016, about four months after Snyder approved a $617 million bailout that also restored control to the elected school board.

So the last year of state control would be 2016-17. In that school year, the newly formed Detroit Public Schools Community District received $420 million from the state, or $9,289 per pupil. In the next school year, 2017-18, state funding rose to $477 million, an increase of $212 per pupil.