• House approves emergency funding for distressed district
  • Bill, praised by Governor Snyder, still needs Senate approval

Michigan moved a step closer to averting a shutdown of Detroit’s public schools after the state House of Representatives approved $48.7 million of emergency funding for the cash-strapped district.

Lawmakers in the House voted Thursday to approve the measure which will keep the schools from shuttering as soon as next month. Governor Rick Snyder praised the passage as a “key first step.” The bill now heads to the Senate for approval. The funding will keep the schools from shuttering as soon as April 8, Al Pscholka, chairman of the House appropriations committee said Wednesday.

“The legislation approved today makes sure Detroit students have access to the education they deserve and teachers are paid for the remainder of the school year,” Snyder said in an e-mailed statement Thursday.

The school system reached its statutory borrowing limit and won’t be able to take on more debt to pay bills, including teacher salaries, when the money runs out in April, state officials have said. The state aid that’s used to back debt payments could be jeopardized if the district is forced to end the school year early for lack of funds, Standard & Poor’s said in a March 10 report.

In February, Snyder appointed Steven Rhodes, who oversaw Detroit’s record municipal bankruptcy, to oversee the school district’s operations.

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