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DPS Budget Cuts 853 Jobs, Reduces Class Size

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(WWJ Photo/File)

(WWJ Photo/File)

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DETROIT (WWJ) – Faced with a $327 million budget deficit, the Detroit Public Schools has proposed a budget plan that cuts 853 district jobs and $231 million in expenses.

The budget, which school officials says drive more resources directly to classrooms, also reduces class sizes at most grade levels and expands pre-Kindergarten programs.

For 2012, budgeted class sizes would be reduced from 33 to 30 students in grades 4-5 and from 38-35 in grades 6-12. Budgeted class sizes for Kindergarten through third grade remain at 25 and for Pre-K would remain at 18.

“We must create and maintain an organization that totally accepts its responsibility for making this the top rate school district that it can be. That begins with this budget The budget that is being submitted is fiscally sound and balanced,” said the district’s newly appointed emergency manager, Roy Roberts, in a statement.

“This budget will require us to live within our means while supporting the educational plan that’s been put in place. We must elevate the schools in terms of academics, performance and providing a safe environment for children. We have to build a first‐rate system of schools that parents choose to send their children to,” Roberts said.

The budget also cuts purchased/contracted services by $48 million.

Speaking to WWJ Newsradio 950, Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson said this budget is based on a worst-case scenario, which forecasts that the district will lose 10,000 students next fall.

“The state of the district continues to concern me, but we will continue to wade our way through it.  I refuse to get into a panic, because if my members see me panic, then they’ll certainly panic,” he said.

Johnson said it remains unclear how many of the proposed layoffs are teachers, in the end, how many teachers will lose their jobs.

“We are gonna have a number of our members who retire, effective either July 1st or effective August 1st. So, that will reduce the number of people who actually end of being laid off. But, even with that, we did anticipate that some teachers would end up being laid off,” he said.

Johnson said he hopes the district will be able to attract more students than expected.

View the complete budget document, posted on the district’s web site this link.

Speaking Thursday morning at the Detroit Athletic Club, Roberts said the DPS financial system needs to be rebuilt.

“It’s broken. There’s no other cute way to say it. If we don’t like that … we ought to change it,” Roberts said. “People accept, in this system, failure as a norm. I don’t accept that,” Roberts said.

Roberts said the first steps to recovery are creating control, learning how to manage it and establishing accountability.

A public hearing on the DPS budget was set for Monday, June 27, 2011 at 6 p.m. at Renaissance High School.

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