DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb.
The Michigan Department of Education gave Detroit Public Schools deadlines this month for moving forward with a deficit-elimination plan.
The plan calls for closing 70 schools by 2013, increasing high school class sizes to more than 60 students, and outsourcing and consolidating services with the city and the countywide education agency between this year and 2014.
In a letter dated Feb. 8, Michael Flanagan, the state superintendent, gave conditional approval to the plan, including a condition that state-appointed emergency financial manager Robert Bobb not declare bankruptcy, something Bobb has said he does not intend to do. Bobb must submit proof by May 31 that DPS will cut costs by consolidating services — from financial operations to academic operations — with the city or other entities.
The plan ‘must be implemented immediately,’ Flanagan wrote.
The department did not order DPS to make specific cuts, MDE spokeswoman Jan Ellis said. Deficit districts, by law, must devise a plan to restore their budgets to solvency; MDE’s role is to ensure the cuts add up and the district reaches its deadline for deficit elimination, she said.
While DPS operates under an emergency financial manager, it is required to submit monthly reports to the state that detail planned school closures and estimated cost savings and staff reductions.
Flanagan’s letter was a response to DPS’s January deficit-elimination plan and largely mirrors the approval he granted DPS on Aug. 4 after Bobb proposed what he calls ‘draconian’ budget cuts to address a roughly $327-million deficit.