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Detroit Public School employees to see a wage bonus

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Roy Roberts, Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager  (Credit: MyFox Detroit) Roy Roberts, Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager (Credit: MyFox Detroit)

DETROIT (MyFox Detroit) -- Detroit Public Schools expects a multimillion dollar budget surplus this year.  In fact, leaders say there's enough extra cash to share.

Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts announced Friday morning bonuses for DPS employees who have sacrificed so much to bring the budget deficit down from more than $300 million to $75 million in the last 15 months.  Now a projected operating budget surplus of $11.9 million will be shared with the workers.

"You got to pay down the deficit and I got to take care of the people, too.  Critically important.  The people gave up ten percent of their salaries in the last three years to help with the deficit, and we're talking about giving them two points of that back,  To me that makes sound sense."

Roberts was alongside one of his biggest critics, Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson, who is pleased with the plan.  For every $5 million surplus, employees get one percent.  That's office staff, AFSCME, paraprofessionals and, of course, teachers.

So how does this all break down in dollars and cents?  For teacher, for example, come Christmastime time if they've been with the district for a year, they're looking at about a $1,600 to $1,800 bonus.

"It will allow many of our employees to maybe enhance their holiday experience, but I think most importantly it's a symbol that Mr. Roberts appreciates the sacrifices that have been made," said Johnson.

Earlier in the week, he announced plans for a class action lawsuit against the district on behalf of teachers who were laid off.  Hundreds have been called back since then and that number is now down to 422, but there was a bit of good news for them, as well.

"Their health insurance benefits will be extended through September 30th of 2012," Johnson announced.

Now all of the adults will turn their attention to the kids, who start school on Tuesday.  An estimated 50,000 children are expected to be a part of DPS this year, but with open enrollment students can change schools.  Numbers are likely to fluctuate, and Roberts says they're anticipating that they will.

"So we really have to work with parents and students and teachers and schools to make sure we're doing the right thing, but we think that directionally we're in the right place."

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