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New Emergency Manager starts at Detroit Public Schools

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Detroit Public Schools
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Roy Roberts

The Detroit Public Schools’ new Emergency Financial manager started the job Monday.

Former GM Executive Roy Roberts toured several Detroit schools and met with staff.

Roberts says the district must undergo a “cultural change” and reject a “Rodney Dangerfield kind of mentality” for students to succeed.

Roberts says that’s especially important as the district asks important questions in the face of inevitable budget cuts.

“What are the things we need the most? Which ones are nice, and which ones can we do without? What are the givens and how do we finance the givens?”

Roberts says his longer-term goal is to balance the district’s budget. It currently has a $327 million deficit.

He also has broadened powers that the outgoing Emergency Manager, Robert Bobb, didn’t have.

Roberts says he doesn’t have plans to dismiss the elected school board or throw out union contracts, though.

He says he’ll focus on filling key positions to stabilize schools.

“We have had six superintendents in six or seven years. And in my opinion every time we change directions, the children get hurt.”

Roberts will transition into the job alongside Bobb, whose contract ends in June.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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