After decades of declining enrollment and struggling academics, the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan (EAA) Chancellor Veronica Conforme will propose the EAA Board of Trustees takes formal action to close Phoenix Multicultural Academy.
Detroit Public Schools, the EAA, and a broad cross-section of community agencies are working closely with the families of Phoenix to ensure a positive transition to higher performing schools in their neighborhood.
The effort serves as a model for coordination and cooperation between the two districts and the community in school planning.
EAA Chancellor Veronica Conforme announced the proposed closure to parents and staff at a special meeting on March 24.
“The recommendation to close a school is never an easy one, but the EAA is being honest about the school’s past and present academic performance and declining enrollment,” Conforme said. “I’ve made board members aware that we just don’t think it is ethical to keep the doors of Phoenix open when nearby schools are doing a quality job educating students of the same community. We believe that we should not be in competition for enrollment, but instead, offer parents a better option — whether DPS or charter.”
The school’s decline in enrollment has made it financial unsustainable to properly support the teachers and students of the school. Currently, the school has a 21 percent utilization rate.
DPS Executive Director of Enrollment Steve Wasko added his support by saying, “DPS currently educates over 8,500 students in southwest Detroit and our commitment to the community is as strong as ever. We have been working closely with the EAA and community partners to ensure that the Phoenix students and families are able to enroll in higher-performing schools. We will also continue a collective conversation around what happens with the facility in the future.”
Phoenix Multicultural Academy currently has 190 pre-K to 8th grade students.
The announcement aims to give families ample time to assess their school choices. Beginning the week of April 4, DPS will be providing transportation for nearby school tours. EAA is working with nearby charters to schedule more tours.
The fair will allow families to meet with the school leadership of other higher-performing southwest Detroit schools and make an informed decision on where their students will attend in the future. The EAA, DPS and community stakeholders are also coordinating tours for nearby schools for Phoenix families in the coming weeks.
“Due to the low enrollment and academic performance at Phoenix, closing the school is what is best for the students to ensure they have a quality education,” said Congress of Communities Executive Director Maria Salinas. “We will be working with parents and students as soon as they return from spring break on finding a new school.”
On April 12, Congress of Communities will host the first of many community meetings to plan for the future of the building.
Phoenix Multicultural Academy is located at 7735 Lane St, Detroit, MI 48209.