New Initiative for Detroit Public School

May 14 [Tue], 2013, 10:14
Detroit Public Schools announced a groundbreaking initiative that should have broad-spectrum impacts for residents when fully implemented. "" aims to partner community and schools and make schools hubs within the neighborhoods they serve. Here are outcomes and changes locals can expect.

Neighborhood/School Partnership

DPS has a shrinking student base, says the . In the last decade, two-thirds of students left, taking state per-student funding with them.seeks to boost enrollment and retention and improve services. A group of 600 people -- comprised of school staff, teachers, parents, students, clergy, civic leaders, community activists, and lawmakers -- spent five weeks putting together an operations reform plan. DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts spearheaded the strategic planning process, but input came from every sector. The purpose was to broaden DPS's service arm and turn schools into resource centers. The group identified 36 objectives in 12 major goal areas centering on five central themes.

Start Earlier; Work Longer

The biggest pieces are: free preschool for 4-year-olds; improved services for children 0-3; and extended school operation to 12 hours a day, seven days a week (following the "Community Schools Model"). As a community-schools enterprise, DPS will consolidate child services currently provided across multiple agencies within schools. The parent/neighborhood component will provide life skills and parenting classes and job training programs. Support staff and social workers will be placed at schools. Schools will facilitate parent involvement via incentives, transportation, and events.

Work Harder

DPS will expand academic opportunities, job-specific training, course offerings, and contact opportunities in high-demand content areas. The initiative looks to beef up art and music programs and career academy opportunities. Improvements will be made in safety and security. The group will consider whether to extend school to a year-round schedule. Training and reward programs will be established for staff.

Work Smarter

Using a customer service model, schools will upgrade personnel, human resources, procurement, and finance software. Technology and teacher professional development will be improved. Customer satisfaction surveys will be circulated.

Join Together

Schools will move toward autonomy using a self-directed approach. They'll develop marketing and branding plans to promote individual schools.

Expect More

The whole community is affected here. Some school buildings will be consolidated to cut costs, though fewer than expected. Only four of the slated 28 will be closed. Schools will seek business partnerships, volunteers, grant money, and pro-bono services. The Detroit Free Press says JPMorgan Chase has donated $1.5 million for schools in Southwest Detroit. Roberts hopes to announce other donations soon. Students will have higher attendance, performance, and disciplinary expectations.

A teacher and Michigan native, Marilisa Sachteleben writes about schools and education in her state's most pivotal city of Detroit.