DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The Michigan education department has approved a Detroit Public Schools plan to cut teachers’ pay by 10 percent.
State Superintendent Mike Flanagan announced Wednesday that he had signed off on the district’s updated five-year deficit elimination plan. DPS has a $127 million deficit.
The pay cut will impact all teachers and administrators starting Oct. 1.
“I don’t make that much; I make like $11 an hour,” Detroit teacher Jacqueline Liggins told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas. “That’s not helping my family out at all … You know, because it’s just cutting us, cutting us, cutting us, cutting us.”
“It’s a hard slap in the face…and if you’re slapping me, I’m gonna slap you back,” she said.
Speaking to WWJ on Tuesday, Keith Johnson, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, said he would fight the cuts “by any means necessary” and would not rule out the possibility of a lawsuit against the district.
He said teachers have already taken enough pay cuts.
“The district has always had to save money and unfortunately, they feel that the way to do it is to always penalize the employees,” Johnson said. “But who in their right mind submits a budget that has contingency money in it, saying that this budget is in part predicated upon a millage that we hope passes?”
Local pastor Steve Bland, Jr., is also among those speaking out cuts and teacher pay, as well as larger class sizes.
“We’re not gonna stand for it by watching and saying nothing,” Bland said.
“In a city where we are now watching hockey stadiums being built and the billions of dollars, and watching people to be able to store and refurbish things along the shoreline,” he said. “That we are not able to see that all of our children — red, brown, yellow, black and white — deserve a quality education … I understand that there are issues of cutting fat, but we are cutting bone.”
Detroit student, 12-year-old Brandon Atkinson, concurs.
“Why are y’all building all this stuff? Build it for us; give the money to our school,” he said. “We want our education, we want to grow up and succeed and go to college and be an adult.”
Also Wednesday — according to a Michigan Department of Treasury media release — the state’s Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board approved a proposal by Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Jack Martin for the district to borrow $111 million in state aid notes to pay its bills.
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