New plan announced for Detroit public schools

State-appointed emergency manager Roy Roberts has announced that a new plan for Detroit Public Schools will include longer academic years and the expansion  of preschool programs. 

As part of the “Neighborhood-Centered, Quality Schools” initiative, far fewer schools of the district will be closed. During a press conference on Thursday, Apr. 11, Roberts said the new strategy will include closing less buildings than initially announced; 4 as opposed to 28. The decision has been made to only close schools where moving students will place them in a better “academic” or “physical” setting. Officials also want the changes to affect as few people as possible.

The schools that will close include Wilkins Elementary-Middle School, Oakman Elementary-Orthopedic School, Northwestern High School and the Harris professional development building. The Detroit Collegiate Preparatory program will move from a wing to the main part of Northwestern’s building. The Duke Ellington Elementary-Middle School program will move to the building that currently houses the William J. Beckham Academy program. 

The district will employ a “community schools” model to keep programs at some schools available 12 hours each day, seven days a week. Preschool programs will also be expanded to include all 4-year-old children in the district. The new initiative follows a 5-week planning process involving students, parents, teachers, principals, clergy and community leaders.

“Our strategic plan will be the roadmap we follow to create a stronger, more sustainable district that will not only maintain the students we have, but help us grow and prosper by regaining market share,” said Roberts. “Long gone are the days when anyone had a monopoly on the education of our children. I am certain that the competition created by the increase in education options in our community is a good thing because it forces us to be the best, not just academically but across the board.”

Robert suggested the plan is set on the premise of growing the student body. He wants DPS to be the district of choice for the city’s residents, and gain those who have left as well as earning new members. Roberts also said employees will receive training on how to treat parents better. He believes filling the district’s 28,000 empty seats will involve improving moral, bettering relationships throughout the school system and fostering a “friendly” environment. 

“If we can really go after being friendly to people- and we do it right- we’ll get three more percentage points of market share.”

To find out more about the new plan for DPS, and school closings: click here

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