Depressing Detroit Story of the Week

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Several Detroit Public School employees have been charged with felonies in connection with corruption and missing funds totaling tens of millions of dollars, as The Wall Street Journal reports.

This is on top of another pressing problem the school is struggling with, a $259 million budget deficit.

The charges are pretty shocking – “A probe launched by [Emergency financial manager] Mr. Bobb uncovered paychecks going to 257 “ghost” employees who have yet to be accounted for,” the Journal explained.

“He said that approximately 500 illegal health-care dependents he uncovered have cost the district millions. A separate Federal Bureau of Investigation probe in May led to the indictment of a former payroll manager and another former employee on charges of bilking the district out of about $400,000 over four years.”

Wow. Seriously? 257 ghost employees???

Additionally, the district’s emergency financial managerĀ  must “decide this month if the school system will seek protection under Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code, which, though rarely used, allows public entities like utilities, cities and counties to restructure debt and even tear up contracts. A filing would be unprecedented: No other large school district in the country has ever gone through with bankruptcy proceedings.”

To help with the deficit, the district is taking measures such as closing schools, allowing private companies to take over 17 of the districts 22 high schools and lay off more than 2,500 of its 13,000 employees.

What do you think? Does this help? Or does closing schools and laying off teachers accelerate the problem even more?

Should the district join GM and Chrysler in bankruptcy?

As the story points out, the district has lost half its students in less than a decade.

Allowing 17 of 22 high schools to be privately run sounds extreme. If you’re going that far, why not just get rid of the public system all together?

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Filed under Education, Featured, Public Education, Urban Poverty

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