- Associated Press - Thursday, March 17, 2016

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan House approved $48.7 million in supplemental aid Thursday for Detroit’s public schools after the district’s state-appointed manager warned that it may not be able to pay teachers after April 8.

The measure now goes to the Senate, which would have to approve the legislation before the Legislature’s spring break starts later this month to make sure the school system’s teachers and staff can be paid, according to Detroit Public Schools manager Steven Rhodes, a former bankruptcy judge.

He told reporters earlier this month that he could not “in good conscience” ask teachers in the district, which has been under state emergency management for several years, to continue to work without ensuring that they’ll be paid.

“Without state intervention, the doors of Detroit schools could close within weeks,” House Appropriations Committee chairman Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, said in a statement Thursday. “This is an emergency supplemental to serve as a short-term fix until we are able to arrive at a long-term solution that is fiscally responsible and enables all children in Michigan to receive a quality education.”

Pscholka said the supplemental aid for the district will come from the state’s tobacco settlement fund, not a loan.

The emergency funding comes after sick-out protests from teachers in recent months over the school district’s failing physical infrastructure. The protests, which forced dozens of schools to close, were accompanied by complaints of poor pay, crowded classrooms, unsafe buildings, mold and rodent infestations.

Also Thursday, lawmakers approved a bill that will set up a financial review commission to oversee the district’s finances. The commission could reject or revise the district’s budget, and would have the authority to approve the appointment of the superintendent and chief financial officer.

Democrats introduced amendments to strip the commission’s authority over the Detroit district, but those amendments failed.

“I’m very happy that we were able to pass the supplemental today along with the financial oversight. I think this is an important step. This is not something that allows us to walk away from the DPS work,” Republican House Speaker Kevin Cotter said after the bills passed.

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