New report exposes union labor costs that are sucking the life out of Detroit Public Schools

May 11, 2012

Victor Skinner Victor Skinner

Victor is a communications specialist for EAG and joined in 2009. Previously, he was a newspaper journalist.
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By Steve Gunn

DETROIT – It’s no secret that Detroit Public Schools have been a financial mess for several years.

Rising costs, large-scale theft and fraud, dwindling enrollment and poor management have led to budget deficits reportedly as high as $327 million.

In the summer of 2009, the district announced it was laying off 1,700 employees, many of them teachers, to help shrink a $285 million budget deficit. A year later the district announced 2,000 more layoffs to help address a $219 million shortfall.

At one point DPS officials openly discussed the possibility of bankruptcy. The district has been under the direction of a state-appointed emergency financial manager since 2010.

But in the midst of all the financial turmoil and cutbacks, DPS spent millions of dollars in 2010-11 on expensive items stipulated by the Detroit Federation of Teachers collective bargaining agreement.

They included automatic “step” salary increases for the remaining teachers ($15.6 million), reimbursement for unused sick days ($12.5 million), longevity bonuses ($665,336), “super step” pay increases ($435,000) and “overage pay” for teachers with a few extra kids in their classrooms ($376,082).

Those are just a few of the questionable expenditures highlighted in the latest edition of EAGnews’ continuing series on union labor costs in metropolitan school districts titled  “Sucking the Life Out of America’s Public Schools: The Expense of Teachers Union Contracts, Part 3, Detroit Federation of Teachers Contract.

The Detroit report follows similar reports released over the past few weeks regarding the Milwaukee and Minneapolis school districts. Over the next few months EAGnews will release seven more reports exploring the hidden costs of teachers union contracts in big city school districts across the nation.

Next week’s report will focus on the cash-strapped Philadelphia school district.

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3 Responses

  1. annonymous says:

    looking forward to next week’s report.

  2. dps teacher says:

    Anti-union rhetoric, without all the facts. I will challenge a couple of them.  Longevity pay = $250.  It is no longer given.  Over-size class pay was not all that much….maybe $300 per semester.  However, the reason for that was to make sure the district stuck to the agreed upon class size maximum which is 25 for grades K-3.  Oversize class pay is no longer given.  And guess what class sizes are in many schools?  30-45 in the primary grades.  Roy Roberts said his changes would keep class sizes the same or lower them in many instances.  Not true.

  3. fed up says:

    This is absolutely a one sided report!  Perhaps a little research would have given this report some credibility. As it stands it’s rediculous. Last year a collegue had-get this- 57 fifth grade students for the entire year. As yet there has been NO over size payment. I am tired of the teacher bashing. We work longer hours than have been reported, in fact most have no social life at all due to grading papers, lesson plans and meetings and workshops that are mandatory. Personally, I spend about 25 hours outside of the classroom on work that isn’t part of my paycheck. Stop bashing the people that need the most support to get the job done but recieve the least.

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