DETROIT (WWJ) – The Detroit Public Schools have started contract talks with unions representing teachers and other district employees. DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts is hopeful that the two sides can come together on a new deal.

“I have every reason to believe that we will not have a strike,” said Roberts, speaking on Pancakes and Politics panel at the Detroit Athletic Club. “And I don’t purport to speak for the union, but they on every term that they believe in quality education and they want to get it done. So I have every reason to believe that we will get it done.”

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Roberts said progress is already being made.

“Certainly the agreement will expire, and we started talking yesterday. We laid out all of our financials to all the unions — except one of their unions. They’re meeting today,” said Roberts. “I’m optimistic. I’ve very optimistic about getting it done.”

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Roberts was appointed by the state to turn around the struggling Detroit public school district. He was joined on Friday’s panel by Education Achievement Authority chancellor John Covington, also hired by the state. He’s in charge of a new statewide district focusing on low-performing schools.

Hear the complete discussion below:

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Now in its seventh season, the The Michigan Chronicle’s Pancakes & Politics series is presented by Comcast Business Class, Strategic Staffing Solutions and Real Times Media.  It’s sponsored by WWJ Newsradio 950, along with WWJ-TV and Crain’s Detroit Business.