Detroit Public Schools emergency financial manager Robert Bobb last week unveiled a plan to lease 41 failing public schools — about a quarter of its schools — to private charter school operators.
Bobb said the move could save up to $100 million as DPS struggles to chip away at a $327 million general fund deficit. It could generate another $22 million in lease revenue.
The proposal is the most popular of four options that Bobb presented to the school board. One option would formally close the district, use current revenue to pay off all outstanding debt, and establish a new district with new systems, contracts, and staffing levels.
Other options would lead to more school closings or a mix of charter and public schools under a new district.
Converting 41 of its 142 schools into privately run charter schools would allow DPS to drop all maintenance and capital expenses tied to the schools as well as pension costs and salaries for the teachers, officials said.
The 41 schools’ current students, who total around 16,000, would stay in their current schools. The district did not say how many teachers would lose their jobs.
Bobb dubbed the plan the DPS Renaissance Plan 2012. The district would take bids from national and local charter school operators.
“The plan … represents a dramatic new approach to declining enrollment for the 2011-12 fiscal year, a radical restructuring of academically failing schools, and is an alternative to closing schools,” Bobb said in a statement.
The school board needs to approve the plan. Board President Anthony Adam reportedly supports the proposal.