Detroit Schools: 1,500 Teachers Call In Sick

For the second day in a row, only three out of Detroit’s 97 schools were open for classes this week.

The teachers all called in sick.   What they are sick about is the fact that the school system is almost out of funds, and only has enough money to pay them through June 30.  To add insult to injury, National Teacher Appreciation Week is being highlighted on the school’s website.

Some teachers have chosen to receive their paychecks over a 12-month period, instead of taking it all during the 9 months that school is in session – which means they will not be paid the balance of their salary during the summer months, even though it is rightfully theirs, unless the State passes emergency funding.   The district’s average teacher salary is around $63,700.  School officials said the sick-out was unnecessary.

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With no classes Monday or Tuesday, many parents were left scrambling to arrange for child care, which has caused another upset throughout the city.  More than 45,000 students are affected.  Under Michigan law, teachers can’t strike – that’s why they call it a “sick-out.”

CNN News reports that the Detroit school system has in excess of a $500 million operating debt, and teachers and parents are asking Michigan lawmakers to pass a $715 million education reform bill, in order to continue funding salaries.   The bill passed the Senate and is now before the House.   The State had already approved a $47.8 million emergency fund to keep the school operating , and that is what is keeping the system going through June 30.

HOW DID THE DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOLS’ FINANCES GET SO BAD?   (From Detroit Associated Press)

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Much of the blame for the money troubles can be traced to plummeting student enrollment. The Detroit Public Schools had 150,415 students in 2003-2004. Now, about 46,000 students attend the district’s 97 schools. Detroit receives about $7,400 for each student. Many Detroit parents seeking out better educational opportunities for their children have turned to charter schools and close-by suburban districts.[/pullquote]

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