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Detroit district seeks public input on facilities plan


Some classrooms at Cody High School, including this room, can’t be used because of exposed asbestos and missing ceiling tiles. Cody is one of five school buildings slated to be rebuilt under the Detroit Public School Community District’s $700 million facilities plan. Photo taken in 2019.

Elaine Cromie for Chalkbeat

The Detroit school district will start a series of community meetings next month to discuss its proposals to improve its school facilities using $700 million in COVID relief money. 

The public will hear about the physical conditions of buildings, review the district’s initial recommendations and share their feedback and thoughts on the proposal. 

“This plan is not set in stone,” board Chair Angelique Peterson-Mayberry said in a statement. “We want to hear from students, staff, families, and community members to share their feedback and thoughts to help refine our initial thinking leading to a final facility master plan.”

Under the district’s current proposal, renovations of current buildings would begin this year and be completed during the 2024-2025 school year. New builds, reactivation of closed buildings and additions to current schools would start in 2023 and be finished by the fall of 2025. There’s no timeline for when school transitions would occur.

Final recommendations of the school building plan would not be approved until May or June, following the community meetings and a review of public feedback by district leaders.

“Access to federal relief funding provides us now with an opportunity to make a substantial short and long-term investment in our school buildings that paves the way to a broader investment plan to right size the district and provide each employee and student with a school building they deserve,” said Detroit Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, in a statement.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District introduced a proposal last week to rebuild schools, renovate buildings, reopen previously closed schools, expand pre-kindergarten programs, and address other long-delayed building needs. Here’s an overview of the proposal (full plan can be found here):

  • The buildings set to be rebuilt are in high-demand neighborhoods that are underserved by DPSCD schools, according to the proposal. The current buildings are not in a “repairable state.”
  • Seven buildings, including Northern High School and Vetal, that are vacant or underutilized will be reactivated and house expanded pre-kindergarten programs. These schools are also in high-demand areas underserved by DPSCD schools.
  • Additions would be built at Charles Wright Academy, Communication and Media Arts High School, John R. King Academy, Western International High School, and Southeastern Career Technical Center.
  • About a dozen active and closed buildings would either be sold or demolished. The active buildings include the schools that are on the closure list, as well as the following closed buildings: Post, Biddle, Poe, Van Zile, Carrie/Law, and Foch. It also includes one of the two buildings that house Greenfield Union.
  • The district would “explore public-private partnerships to build a state-of-art athletic complex in the city.” The complex would include indoor and outdoor facilities for football, basketball, volleyball, soccer, baseball, track, and lacrosse. The district envisions it being a revenue generator because it would allow for the hosting of major tournaments.

The proposal was pulled from the district’s initial 2018 facility audit, citywide population trends, school demand for programs, and projected investments in neighborhoods over the next 10-20 years.

These are the dates and locations of the seven upcoming meetings. All of the meetings take place from 6 to 8 p.m. The district’s recommendations are broken down by feeder pattern areas, or the elementary and middle schools that channel students into that high school. 

  • March. 1 (online) for Cody, Mumford, Henry Ford feeder pattern
  • March 14 at Pershing High School, (in person)
  • March 21 (online) for Osborn, Denby, Pershing feeder pattern
  • March 23 (online) for East English Village Preparatory Academy and Southeastern feeder pattern
  • March 24 at Henry Ford High School (in person)
  • April 5 (online) for Northwestern, Central, and Western feeder pattern 
  • April 7 at Western International High School (in person)

Ethan Bakuli is a reporter for Chalkbeat Detroit covering Detroit Public Schools Community District. Contact Ethan at ebakuli@chalkbeat.org.

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