This story was updated at 3:40 pm June 3 to add the statement from the Detroit school coalition.
The most vocal advocate for school-age children in Detroit gives high - but not perfect - marks to the late-nightvote on Thursday, June 2, to send $617 million to the district to eliminate debt in the Detroit Public School and launch a new district.
I give this a solid 8 out of 10, said John Rakolta Jr., CEO of Walbridge and passionate spokesman for the Coalition for Detroit Schoolchildren.
We can make it work.
That reaction seems to be similar to other viewpoints circulating in official circles, including Gov. Rick Snyder, who spoke to the issue on Friday morning at the Mackinac Policy Conference.
The key pieces, in my view ... are paying the historic debt back, said Snyder.
That allows reinvestment into the education instead of paying structured debt, he emphasized to reporters. About $60-65 million would be freed up next year under the plan.
There has to be massive reform now in Detroit schools
These are big numbers, Snydersaid. ... Thats a significant investment.
The plan includes:
o $467 million to pay off DPS operating debt.
o $150 million to launch a new, debt-free district.
o Creation of an advisory board of public and public charter representatives to explore best locations for new public charter schools.
o A school board election in November.
o A financial advisory commission.
The House voted 55-53 Thursday on the negotiated compromise plan, which now heads to the state Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, needs to talk over the details with his caucus members. He think this latest plan is a realistic compromise between the House and Senate proposals, said his spokesperson Amber McCann, in a statement sent Friday morning.
Snyder indicated Friday that he would not veto the bills, instead saying hes continuing to support the bipartisan package.
Missing from the support for the vote were House Democrats and eight Republicans.
While the new plan sends more dollars to the district, it fails to put in place the reforms needed to ensure DPS will recover from its financial crisis, making it likely that DPS will be in the same situation a year or two down the road, according to a statement released Friday by the House Democrats.
Most discussion on the plan centered on a Detroit Education Commission, which was supported by Gov. Rick Snyder, the state Senate, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Democratic leaders as they sought the DEC to provideoversight for public and public charter location and performance.
From an earlier MLive.com story:In place of the DEC, the House plan creates an advisory board that is made up of traditional and charter school representatives to report on where in Detroit schools are most needed. It would also study the potential for a transportation plan for the district.
With the approved plan, the advisory board instead of the DEC doesnt have teeth right now, Rakolta said.
However, it does allow more information to flow to parents about whether the schools they choose for their children are performing to state standards. Its an issue in a city where, according to Rakoltas data,nearly 19,000 K-8 students attend 40 schools with less than 5 percent 4th grade reading proficiency. Nine are charters.
As the advisory panel gets up to speed, its going to be able to shine a light on performance of every single school in Detroit, Rakolta said.
Snyder said he still supports a DEC in Detroit, noting that he was a supporter from the beginning of discussions for a plan to restore viability to Detroit schools.
Im going to continue to advocate for that, Snyder said.
Snyder saidthe most important next steps are setting up the school board and hiring a permanent superintendent. The district, since early this year, is under control of Steven Rhodes, an emergency manager, and interim SuperintendentAlycia Meriweather. Its been under state emergency management since 2009.
Local control has been an issue in the district during that entire time, as debt grew and student performance ebbed.
Electing a new school board is one of the victories in the approved plan, Rakolta said.
We got the school board back, he said. Not 18 months from now. In November.
UPDATE: Bill Hanson, chief of staff for the Coalition for Detroit Schoolchildren, said that Rakoltas reaction was his own and notthe official views of the leadership of the coalition. He also praised Rakoltas efforts to lobby participants at the Mackinac Policy Conference for support of the Senate version of the bill.
Coalition co-chairs have not yet had the chance to meet to analyze and argue about all aspects of what the House - on strict party lines and late at night - rammed through yesterday. We will issue an official statement by Monday morning. Im confident our statement will applaud the progress made on resolving DPS debt and returning the district to local control. Im also confident that the Coalition will decry the lack of a fully empowered Detroit Education Commission, the assault on Detroit teachers, as well as the apparent accountability advantages the House legislation creates for charter schools.