After enrollment declines that saw the student population shrink by 71 percent in almost 15 years, officials from the Detroit Public Schools Community District have embarked on a strategy to attract more students.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the district's enrollment plan must overcome extreme challenges: the system's weak academic reputation, inconsistent customer service, teacher shortages and poor conditions of school buildings.
Enrollment in the city's public school system declined from 156,182 students in 2002 to 45,179 in 2016. This year, it has rebounded to nearly 51,000 students—the increase mostly attributed to the return of students who had been part of the Education Achievement Authority, a state-run reform district for poorly performing Detroit schools.
Increasing the student population "is something we have to start doing explicitly — not just hoping we increase enrollment, but becoming more strategic ... as we do," says Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.
The plans calls for the district to canvas neighborhoods for students, provide more before-and after-school care in some areas, and train principals to more effectively market their schools. School administrators also will look to create new programs, make it easier for students to get to some of the district's premier specialty schools, and make it easier for parents to enroll their children.