- Associated Press - Friday, February 19, 2016

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit school district and the city reached an agreement on deadlines to correct safety and health violations in dozens of schools, officials said Friday.

The agreement covers 26 schools first inspected in January after mass teacher sick-outs and complaints about mice, mold and cold classrooms.

Mayor Mike Duggan ordered inspections of all 97 district buildings after touring some schools in January.

“What we wanted was a commitment from DPS with specific timelines for making each repair and a binding agreement enforceable in court if those timelines are not met,” Duggan said. “We’re very encouraged that DPS has entered into this consent agreement and look forward to their prompt progress in creating safe schools for our children.”

The district has been under state oversight since 2009. Officials have said the district’s debt could reach about $515 million by summer.

Teacher sick-outs closed dozens of schools earlier this year. In addition to the physical problems in the buildings, the educators have complained about poor pay and overcrowded classrooms.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers union filed a lawsuit calling for district officials to fix the code violations.

Problems include water-damaged ceilings in classrooms, insect and rodent infestations, and faulty lighting.

City building safety inspectors have visited 64 district properties.

Some problems already have been fixed, district spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski said.

“Good progress has been made on correcting a significant number of the violations,” Zdrodowski said. “However, there are certain issues for which the district has requested an extension to the completion date.”

Those include roof replacements, ordering of materials and scheduling certified contractors for specific work, she added.

Ivy Bailey, interim president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, said the agreement is better than a “Band-Aid approach that wastes a lot of money and time.”

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