The Corner

Your Stimulus Dollars at Work

Detroit, Mich. — Detroit Public Schools, one of the nation’s most chronically corrupt systems, will receive $355 million from the federal stimulus package — with no strings attached, the Detroit Free Press reported Saturday.

Like much of the nearly $1 trillion fiscal package, the DPS money seems driven less by fiscal good sense than by political payback.

With a $1.5 billion annual budget, Detroit schools are currently running a $150 million deficit with finances so tangled the state of Michigan recently appointed an emergency financial manager to oversee its operations for the second time in ten years.

Since the emergency declaration, DPS has failed to hand over at least five financial reports that are required under the state’s mandated consent agreement.

Ranked in a recent Brookings Institution survey as America’s worst major urban school district, DPS only graduates 24 percent of its students. In December, the DPS board fired Superintendent Connie Calloway for incompetence. Calloway was the second super fired in three years and the eighth district administrator in 20.

DPS has been plagued by corruption. A 2001 audit found $600,000 missing or misspent. Another 2004 audit of the district’s central warehouse found budget over-expenditures of $1.9 million and that furniture bought as part of a $158,000 purchase order was missing.

U.S. taxpayers can likely kiss this stimulus money goodbye.

Henry Payne is an editorial writer and cartoonist with the Detroit News.

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