An Emergency Financial Manager Success Story

By Mike Brownfield | November 15, 2012


Across Michigan, eight emergency financial managers are working to rescue cities and school districts from the brink of financial ruin -- and they're succeeding. One of those great success stories is happening in the Detroit Public School System, where emergency financial manager Roy Roberts has instituted reforms that have improved the quality of education for students in the district while also saving money, balancing the budget, and sharing success with teachers and other employees.

Here are some facts on what Roberts and a team of dedicated individuals have accomplished under the emergency manager law:

Education Infographic

Improving education for students

  • More than 11,500 students are attending class in 16 substantially improved or newly constructed facilities.
  • Nine schools are now self-governing, meaning that control and accountability over the school's direction occurs at the school level.
  • There's a computer in every classroom, wireless Internet, and more than 14,000 students in grades 8-12 are allowed to take Netbooks home this year.
  • All students now have an individualized "Learning Map" to help pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Schools and surrounding neighborhoods have been made safer through the demolition of abandoned buildings and boarding up vacant properties.

Saving money and sharing success with employees

  • Reduced legacy deficit from $327 million to $74 million in just 15 months
  • Two consecutive balanced budgets; two consecutive budget surpluses
  • Immediately saved $40 million with re-bid and renegotiated vendor contracts
  • DPS employees receiving a shared savings bonus thanks to their help achieving budget surpluses
  • Eliminated unnecessary rental space saving $2.2 million, and brought workers together for better problem solving

These are great successes, but there is more work to be done to improve Detroit Public Schools -- and to rescue other cities and school districts from financial disaster. Though Michigan's emergency manager law, Public Act 4, is no longer in effect, emergency financial managers in troubled communities are continuing their work under the state's previous emergency manager law, Public Act 72. And today, our state government is working on solutions to help emergency financial managers like Roy Roberts continue their work on resolving fiscal crises at the local level.

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