In case you were curious: No. No, Judge Steven Rhodes, the "Transitional Manager" of Detroit Public Schools, did not go through the same salary scare these past few days as the district's teachers.
On Monday and Tuesday of this week all but three of DPS's 97 schools were closed as teachers participated in "Lock-Out" protests
, responding to news that the district would be unable to pay educators after June 30. The news came as something of a surprise for educators, who believed they were in the clear after the state legislature passed a $48.7 million rescue bill in March to help ensure the district could stay open this year. It was somewhat presumed that these funds would cover teacher salaries.
While the fright is now over — on Tuesday afternoon Rhodes met with union representatives and vowed to get the teachers their promised funding
through the summer — the reality is that for nearly five days educators in the district wrestled with the doubt and uncertainty of where their promised paycheck was coming from. Or if it was even coming.
This nagging frustration of doing work and not being compensated for it, is not, however, something Rhodes felt. With powers coming from PA 436 — Rhodes took over after disgraced Emergency Manager Darnell Earley stepped down in March — the retired U.S. Bankruptcy Judge is paid by the state of Michigan. His salary — $18,750 a month from March 1 until September 30 — was therefore not tied up in district's insolvency issues.
According to the contract, Rhodes could leave the position in June if Lansing does not reach an agreement on the bigger DPS legislation; that choice, however, is up to his and Gov. Snyder's discretion (they both must agree to his early exit in writing). This Lansing clause, highlights the fact that Rhodes' job is different from previous EM positions — hence the altered title — as he is also required to be the liaison between the district and the state legislature.
“In this transitional period for the district, the governor wants to engage the manager to focus on working with the Legislature and others in securing enactment of the legislation, implementing the legislation after enactment, and supervising related administrative functions as a transition manager for the District,” the contract states.
In other words, getting DPS legislation to pass is a critical part of his job
. Given that less than a week ago Rhodes said DPS funds would be dried up in about two months, it would appear that the only way to pay teachers for the remainder of the year would be if currently debated legislation, which includes a $715 million loan, passes. This fact puts teachers in a difficult position as many are happy to know they're being paid, but also wary of some of the current legislative options that must pass for that to happen.