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Emergency Manager for Detroit Schools Rolls Out Restructuring Plan

The Detroit school district's Emergency Manager Darnell Earley has rolled out a restructuring plan aimed at stabilizing the district's finances, boosting academic performance and preparing for possible changes to be recommended by a coalition studying ways to improve the city's schools.

The emergency manager said his 10-point plan will focus on academic competitiveness, governance, staff development, cash flow stability, collaboration with higher education, organizational development, special education, transportation, customer service, and a comprehensive funding strategy.

Earley said the restructuring could include school closings, but that he will try to avoid teacher layoffs, the Detroit News reports.

The Detroit school system has lost more than 100,000 students over the last decade, and now has about 47,500 students. The district also continues to deal with a $170 million deficit.

"Addressing these issues will not be easy," Earley said in a statement. "However, I strongly believe that they are manageable. We will do everything we can to right our own course."

The restructuring plan will unfold over the next 17 months, with input from the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, a group of educators, pastors, civic leaders and others working to reform education in Detroit. The coalition will submit its initial recommendations to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder by the end of the month.

Earley is the fourth emergency manager of the Detroit school system, which has been under state oversight since March 2009. Snyder appointed Earley in January.

Under previous managers, the district has lost tens of thousands of students, closed dozens of schools, and struggled with persistent budget deficits.

As of last summer, the school system had outstanding debt and long-term obligations of more than $2.2 billion, the Detroit Free Press reports.

"Ultimately, all decisions that are made will be guided by what will get us to our end goal, which is improving the quality of education provided to the children of Detroit by Detroit Public Schools," Earley said. "A strong public school system is essential to the future of Detroit."

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