Michigan Senate OKs overhaul of Detroit schools

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Detroit's school system is one step closer to getting the emergency funding it desperately needs. The Michigan Senate has approved a restructuring plan to divide Detroit's financially and academically ailing school district in two and put in place a mechanism to pay off hundreds of millions of dollars in operating debt.

The main bill was approved 21-16 Tuesday by the Republican-controlled chamber, nearly 11 months after Gov. Rick Snyder first proposed splitting the 46,000-student district that has been under state financial management for seven years.

There were more huddles than a Lions game as the proponents and opponents of this long term DPS fix got ready for a showdown vote. A vote that eventually did happen and passed the bills. Senators want to get out town for spring break on Friday but they don't want to leave behind Detroit school system that is broken.

Governor Rick Snyder wants the state to spend $715 million over the next ten years to eliminate the deficit. But Macomb County Sen. Jack Brandenburg is a no vote, saying that this would just perpetuate problems.

"I know the spin has been going around this town for a while that the state has had control 15 out of the last 18 years. I'm sorry the Detroit Public School district has underperformed for the past 40 years thats a fact," Brandenburg said.

Democratic Senator Bert Johnson from Highland Park contends that the school district had a surplus when the state took control.

"The state took the teh city school district over. the state gave us a multi billion dollar problem. The state mismanaged it. The state gave us five emergency managers. The state has us in debt. The state has us on the brink of bankruptcy. That's not the city's doing."

The proposal would give the Detroit mayor the power to appoint a Detroit Education Commssion and it would permit a vote in August for a new school board but Detroit Sen. Coleman Young, Jr. said the state would still maintain control of the district.

"They still have to (work with) the review commission for finances. They still control who the chief financial officer is. And they have say over the terms of closures," Young said.

The legislation next goes to the House for consideration where its future is a question mark.