Michigan lawmakers advance $500 million package for Detroit schools

Reuters News
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Posted: May 05, 2016 6:40 AM

By Brendan O'Brien

(Reuters) - The Michigan House of Representatives approved on Thursday a $500 million spending package for Detroit schools, which could run out of money to pay employees at the end of June.

The legislation, which still needs approvals from the state Senate and Governor Rick Snyder, was passed early Thursday morning after hundreds of Detroit teachers called in sick over paycheck concerns, a move that closed nearly all of the district's 97 schools on Monday and Tuesday.

Detroit school teachers returned to their classrooms on Wednesday following the "sick-out" after receiving assurances from officials that they will be paid for their work.

The Detroit public school system, or DPS, with nearly 46,000 students, has been under state control since 2009 because of a financial emergency.

"This is the right plan to fix Detroit's schools and give the city a good, working school system for the long-term," said House Speaker Kevin Cotter in a statement.

DPS, the state's largest public school system, will run out of money to pay employees after the fiscal year ends on June 30, the school system's state-appointed transition manager, former federal bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, has said.

The spending package, which provides $500 million in aid to the school district, is less than the $715 million requested by Republican Governor Rick Snyder and approved by the Republican-controlled Senate as part of a different plan.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Gareth Jones)