DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts is announcing some major changes in the district — including school closings and consolidations.
Buildings to be closed are: City High, Day School for the Deaf, Jemison, Kettering High and West Wing, Ludington (program moving to current Langston Hughes which will renamed Ludington Magnet), Mason (program moving to current Farwell which will be renamed Mason), Maybury, Robeson Early Learning Center (kindergarten students moving to main Paul Robeson/Malcolm X Academy and pre-K to palmer Park), Southwestern.
“This is a critically important time in the history of Detroit Public Schools and for our city. I have stated frequently that Detroit Public Schools must not only be a part of Detroit’s comeback, it must lead it,” said Roberts, in announcing the changes on Wednesday.
“We have been using an outdated educational model that we must discard. We must embark on a bold and ambitious journey that I believe will return this City to its rightful place as the world class leader in public education, a position it once held,” Roberts said.
The closures are expected to save money as DPS continues to whittle away at a budget deficit the district now projects at $84 million. In December, Roberts said the district was “moving solidly in the right direction.”
In addition to the closures, Roberts announced the district will charter four schools that face enrollment challenges and have been under-performing based on state standards. Those schools are Cooke, MacDowell, Noble and Rutherford.
DPS also plans to consolidate seven schools to consolidate into four brand new school buildings, “so that 4,500 children may start the year in state-of-the-art facilities designed for 21st century learning.” The schools affected are Logan and O.W. Holmes to new Munger, Parker and Barton to new Mackenzie, Mumford to new Mumford, Crockett and Finney to new East English Village Preparatory Academy (a new application school for 9th graders with current 10th-12th graders at Finney and Crockett High Schools offered enrollment).
The new schools were built as part of a $500.5 million voter-approved construction program.
The district has closed 130 school buildings since 2005 due to shrinking enrollment and the poor condition of some of the structures. About 66,000 students were enrolled last fall – a drop of 38,000 since 2007.
Will those school closings mean more teacher layoffs in the Detroit Public Schools? The head of the teacher’s union doesn’t think so.
Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson tells WWJ he expects a teacher shortage next fall, because of the number of educators who plan to retire.
“In a typical year, we have about 200 to 350 that retire. This year, I’m expecting somewhere between 6 (hundred) and 900,” said Johnson. “That would greatly deplete our teaching force and really put us in a press mode in order to make sure we have certified, qualified teachers in every classroom.”
Johnson said he hopes there won’t be a repeat of what happened in Detroit last fall, when some classrooms had up to 60 students because of a shortage of certified teachers.