DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A group of educators, pastors, civic leaders and others looking at education in Detroit is getting close to making recommendations for improving academic achievement and management in the city’s public schools, Gov. Rick Snyder said Tuesday.

The Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren is wrapping up its committee work as it prepares to present suggestions to Snyder, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and state legislators, Snyder told The Associated Press.

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The coalition got started in December with a focus on the state-run Detroit Public Schools, city charter schools and the Education Achievement Authority, which was created to oversee and turn around the state’s lowest-performing schools. Between them, those three constitute the city’s public schools.

“I’ve been very excited and pleased with the progress I’ve been able to see and the discussions I’ve had,” said Snyder. “They’re on a path to finish by the end of March. I believe they’re sort of getting near the end of wrapping up their fact-finding. Now, they’ll be getting in the stage, though, about what recommendations they’re going to be forming and how they’re going to go through that process.”

Snyder has made fixing public schools in Detroit – academically and financially – one of his priorities.

Each of the Education Achievement Authority’s 15 schools is in Detroit. The EAA has about 7,500 students.

The Detroit Public Schools have been under state oversight since 2009. State-appointed emergency manager Darnell Earley said in January that the district has a $170 million deficit.

A 10-point management plan with goals on the academic and operational side, said Early, the fourth emergency manager over DPS, these goals should guide the district toward financial and long-term stability and sustainability.

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When Early’s 18-month tenure has expired DPS should be poised to return to local control.

“My focus is on re-structuring so that at the end of the day we will be able to have a functioning school district that is not burdened and sattled with debt but that is reorganized and looks like something that can sustain itself,” Early told WWJ’s Stephanie Davis.

Sliding enrollment has contributed to the money troubles. About 47,000 full-time students were enrolled last fall, and just under 49,000 enrolled the previous year. About 104,000 students were in the district in 2007.

“If you look at DPS, we’ve made some progress,” Snyder said. “Enrollment is starting to stabilize. Some of the academic things have improved, but there are still many challenges, and there are still financial challenges.”

In his management plan for the Detroit Public Schools that was released Tuesday, Earley said the coalition’s recommendations are due March 31.

A long-term solution for the district’s troubles will require cooperation with the coalition, state, city of Detroit, unions and school board, Earley added.

 

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