DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Gov. Rick Snyder says he is committed in the search for a qualified successor to Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Roy Roberts.

Snyder praised Roberts, who announced Thursday that he plans to step down May 16 when his contract to run the struggling school district expires.

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The Republican governor appointed Roberts in 2011 for one year and re-appointed him last year. The 74-year-old former General Motors executive says he expects the financial emergency will be over in the next three years.

In his prepared statement, the Governor said Roberts has done a “fabulous” job, and was “successful in restoring fiscal responsibility, including reducing spending, saving money and balancing budgets.”

Snyder said he’s now focused on  maintaining and strengthening the reforms Roberts initiated.

“Focusing on student growth, about parent involvement, about having teachers that can feel good and excited about the work they’re doing,” said Snyder. “Let’s keep that path going, because we’re gonna have a great school system in Detroit and have success with wonderful students.”

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A deficit elimination plan earlier this year projected district enrollment to drop to fewer than 40,000 students by 2016. Detroit’s enrollment dropped below 100,000 in 2008.
President of Detroit Federation of Teachers, Keith Johnson says he was surprised by Roberts’ retirement announcement.

Johnson spoke with WWJ about how he would rate Roberts performance over the past couple of years.

“There has been an improvement in the level of safety and security in our schools, and the fact that we’re paying our bills on time,” Johnson said. “But, you know, I don’t think all of the goals that should have been set — relative to DPS moving forward academically… I just hope that we’re on a sustainable path to recovery.”

Johnson also credits Roberts for reducing the district’s deficit.

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