Judge Rhodes on Leading DPS

WDET spoke with Judge Rhodes about his appointment and what he hopes to accomplish as the “transition manager” at Detroit Public Schools.

Here are some of our questions and his answers:

Why use the title “transition” manager when you will be acting with the duties and authority of an emergency manager?

Click HERE to listen to Judge Rhodes answer.

Why is bankruptcy not an option for Detroit Public Schools?

Click HERE to listen to Judge Rhodes answer.

What are some of the other differences between the schools’ financial situation and where the city was when it filed for bankruptcy?

Click HERE to listen to Judge Rhodes answer.

Why should Michigan taxpayers be paying the debt for this district?

Click HERE to listen to Judge Rhodes answer.

Detroit’s bankruptcy judge says he’ll be a different kind of manager for the city schools.

Retired Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes joins Detroit Public Schools this week as an appointee of Gov. Rick Snyder, who used the state’s emergency manager law in giving Rhodes the job.

The district currently has roughly $515 million in operating debt, and the Citizens Research Council calculates the operating and capital liabilities at $3.5 billion.

Teachers have staged “sicks outs” to protest conditions, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has ordered inspections of the school buildings to assess conditions related to health and safety.

Rhodes follows four governor-appointed emergency managers who have run the district since 2009, displacing the locally elected school board. But he says he’ll be different.

For starters, he’ll be using the title “transition” manager instead of emergency manager, though he will have those powers and financial management duties. He wants local control restored. His first priority will be to hire an interim superintendent to run the academics, and he’ll continue to lobby in Lansing for the governor’s proposed state funding plan to pay the debt.

But the judge who presided over the country’s largest municipal bankruptcy says such a filing is not an option for the district. Too much debt is secured by the state, he says, leaving just about $50 million, which is largely owed to vendors, subject to restructuring if the district filed bankruptcy.

Without the state funds, Rhodes says he expects the district to run out of money by the end of April


Image credit: Michael Ference

About the Author

Sandra Svoboda

Special Assignments Manager

Recovering Bankruptcy Reporter/Blogger looking forward to chronicling regional revitalization on-air, digitally and through community engagement.

ssvoboda@wdet.org   Follow @WDETSandra

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