Detroit Public Schools Community District Interim Superintendent Alycia Meriweather and Transition Manager Steven Rhodes hosted a series of community meetings last week to introduce parents, students and the community to the new district.
A few key issues Rhodes and Meriweather discussed include:
A new academic plan
Paying past debt
On January 1, 2017, restore local control to the district
The passage of education reform bills by Michigan legislatures in June 2016 led to the creation of the new DPSCD. The new district replaces the former Detroit Public School district.
“The birth of our new school system is a fresh start for public education in the City of Detroit. It is to be cherished for the gift that it is. We look forward to its future with great hope and experience,” said Rhodes.
DPSCD will operate all 97 schools and services formerly operated by DPS.
The creation of an Academic Advisory Council, Meriweather said, will help to improve the quality of education DPSCD students will receive.
“Now is the time to consider what we can become, and what we can implement in order to provide a competitive teaching and learning environment. Detroit Public Schools has the talent, the dedication and the grit to create a new plan that will chart the course for our next generation of scholars,” said Meriweather.
An academic plan created the AAC, she said, “will span the next 8-10 years, which research shows is the timeframe required to produce change in a large system like DPS.”
The plan includes STEAM-focused programs for the districts middle and high schools, dual-language immersion classrooms and Montessori classrooms. Accountability, Meriweather said, is also a major part of the new plan.
“We are developing a school grading policy to evaluate our own performance measured against best practices in both academics and operations,” the Interim Superintendent said. “As we develop and implement this framework, we will be making our own evaluation and recommendations around future facility usage and programmatic offerings.”
With June 2016 education reform legislation signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder, DPS received $617 million. Deputy Superintendent of Finance Marios Demetriou said $467 million was used for debt owed by DPS. This allowed the new DPSCD to open “virtually” debt-free. To fund the transition from DPS to DPSCD, $125 million was allocated. These funds will also be used to pay legacy DPS obligations, such as 26-pay for teachers. The remaining $25 million will be used for academics, safety and security and cash flow.
On November 8, voters will get the opportunity to vote on a new school board.
“The installation of the new board,” DPSCD Transition Manager Steven Rhodes said, “will complete the goal held by virtually all Detroiters – the return of governance over public education in Detroit to a democratically elected board.”
Members elected to the seven-seat board will serve the districts more than 47,000 students and 3,000 instructional staff. Terms for the board’s members will vary according to votes received on November 8. The top 2 candidates will serve six-year terms. Candidates ranking 3rd, 4th and 5th will serve four-year terms and candidates who rank 6th and 7th will serve two-year terms. Elected members will take office on January 1, 2017.
The new board will be responsible for the following:
Take responsibility for espousing excellence in academics
Appoint a new superintendent
Work to ensure fiscal health and responsibility for District finances
Oversee the implementation of a new Academic Plan
Negotiate all labor union agreements
Direct many other structural and strategic items for the new, debt-free district
For more information about DPSCD School board candidates, go to ballotpedia.org/Detroit_Public_Schools_Community_District_elections_(2016)