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Top pay for execs, deplorable school conditions

Posted: 5:45 PM, Jan 26, 2016
Updated: 2016-01-27 00:25:14Z

“Our plan – and we’re following a plan – is to spend the next six months implementing our transformation.”
In his budget address last year, Darnell Earley was clear… spending cuts were critical to saving Detroit Public Schools.

“Each office has looked closely at where costs can be reduced. In addition, the transformation of Central Office will lead to some administrative savings,” said Earley.

Central Office, with some of the highest paid execs in the country, was an obvious place to cut.

In July, the district even bragged to the Detroit Free Press it had reduced Central Office by 100 positions. It was a number Earley repeated in an interview with Action News.

Reporter Kimberly Russell asked Earley: “Now, I want to ask you about some of your administrative costs. You have talked about cutting administrative costs being a big priority for you. What progress are you making?”

Darnell Earley: “We are making a lot of progress. We just reduced the central office by over 100 positions.”
We reviewed every single hiring and firing by Earley, since he became emergency manager, and we found the numbers just do not add up. Overall, for all district administration, Earley has added nearly as many jobs as he’s cut.

Kimberly Russell: “I am confused about these cuts. Because when we looked at the HR report sent to the governor it said there were 90 positions eliminated and 82 added. Which looks like business as usual. It doesn’t look like big cuts are being made.”

Darnell Earley: “I don’t know what data you have looked at but we have been working through the last 6 months on shifting and eliminating through attrition mostly positions that were in the budget that are no longer there,” said Earley.

Looking specifically at Central Office, Earley has cut 77 jobs and added 62 - for a total reduction of 15 jobs. For the record, those numbers came from Earley, from his own reports to the state.

Kimberly Russell: “It was the HR report sent to the governor’s office.”

Darnell Earley: “We send a lot of reports to the governor’s office. I am not sure if the one you are referring to is the one that is the direct result of the changes made or not. So, we can certainly get you all that information and you can examine it and have a conversation.

Something else to talk about is the supposed elimination of the Chief Innovation Officer. This month, Earley reported to Governor Snyder that he cut that position and its sky-high salary of more than $160,000. We have learned that is flat-out not true. Lamont Satchel is still on the job, with the same title.

Kimberly Russell: “It also said that Satchel’s position was eliminated, but he is still here, and it seems to be under the same role. Can you explain that?”

Darnell Early: “That position was not eliminated from the standpoint of the work that is being done. The title was virtually changed and the job responsibilities were shifted, but even with that there is less being spent at the cabinet level than there was before.

Kimberly Russell: “So, what is he doing differently?”

Darnell Early: “He is working as a part of the academic team. Mr. Satchel had a lot of involvement in the transition from previous academic staff to transitional academic staff… and he is also assisting me in the transition from emergency manager back to some form of local control."