Detroit mayor puts plans for charter push on hold

July 23, 2007
Kwame Kilpatrick wants to open as many as 25 charters, but will work with community groups before moving forward

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick says his plan to open as many as 25 charter schools in the city is on hold, but he hopes to identify education alternatives in the city by the beginning of the school year. Kilpatrick says he hasn't wavered from his insistence that Detroit cannot depend on the Detroit Public Schools system alone because parents want and need choices in order to be attracted to the city.
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EARLIER: Detroit school board members and the teachers union say Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's plan to open 25 charter schools in the city would threaten the struggling school system's efforts to improve achievement and stabilize finances. The mayor's proposal also could see opposition from city residents, who rejected Kilpatrick's efforts to gain some control of the school system. In addition, Michigan state legislators are leery of adding charter schools without more checks and balances. (Detroit News)

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick could find plenty of allies in his efforts to bring more charter and private schools to the city. To keep families in the city, Kilpatrick says more options--including trade and technical schools -- should be available. Grand Valley State University is working to open several new charters in Detroit, and Wayne County Community College could be able to charter an unlimited number of schools in the city if enrollment in the Detroit district drops below 100,000 students. (Detroit Free Press)

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick says he has been in private conversations for months with educators and community leaders about establishing more charter and private schools across the city. The mayor's ambitions and planning were news to the president of the Detroit school board and teachers union. A charter school expansion likely would further drain students from the Detroit Public Schools. The Detroit Federation of Teachers successfully has blocked past charter-school expansion plans.( Detroit Free Press)

The Detroit school system has begun an aggressive initiative aimed at stopping a student exodus from the district. With another 10,000 pupils expected to leave the 116,000-student district in the coming school year, officials have unveiled Operation Gain and Retain. Community and church groups, unions and residents will go door-to-door, praise the district during meetings and gatherings and speak up even if not asked about the benefits of Detroit Public Schools. (Detroit News)

The audience at a Detroit school board meeting grew angry Thursday when the board president ruled the board could not reconsider the closure of Northern, Higgins, Mackenzie and Murray Wright schools. The schools are among 34 buildings to be closed by fall to save millions annually for the cash-strapped system. Board President Joyce Hayes-Giles said the board had agreed it would consider the closure plan in its entirety and vote it up or down, and the vote for the closures had already been held.
Click here to read The Detroit News article.

After three months of meetings, rallies and protests, the Detroit Board of Education has voted to close 34 school buildings by fall--a wave of closings believed to be unprecedented nationally. The closings will displace tens of thousands of students, and another eight buildings could close in 2008 if enrollment and performance do not improve. The initial closings will save the district a projected $18.6 million a year. The list was scaled back from 52 building closures proposed in January but is thought to be the largest wave of closings by a single school district. It is the largest downsizing of schools in the city since 2005, when 30 public schools and nine Catholic schools closed.
Click here to read The Detroit News article
Click here to read The Detroit Free Press article

ALSO: For the fourth year in a row, Detroit Public Schools has voted to close buildings despite a frenzy of protests from parents and community members. And as difficult as the decision was, the school board almost certainly will come back next year with another round of closings. And perhaps the year after that. The $18.6 million to be saved annually by the decision last week to close 34 school buildings will help the district balance its budget, but the district will need to cut about another $100 million to make ends meet next year. It's part of a seemingly relentless cycle of budget cuts that discourages even district officials, who are seeking solutions that can stabilize the district's finances without compromising education.
Click here to read the Detroit Free Press article
Detroit Public Schools officials say the cash-strapped system is considering cuts to fine arts and athletic programs and layoffs of teachers, security personnel, custodians and other staff next year, if the board doesn't vote to close schools. But even if the board decides to shutter dozens of underutilized buildings, the district will need to lay off some staff and secure more employee concessions to avert a $118 million deficit and state intervention.
Click here to read the Detroit News article

The Detroit schools board has rejected a proposal to close dozens of underutilized and run-down school buildings. The decision could lead to thousands of layoffs and possibly another takeover of the district by the state of Michigan. The 6-5 vote turned aside a plan that would have closed 33 schools in fall 2007 and possibly another 10 by fall 2008.
To read The Detroit News article, click here.

ALSO: Several Detroit school board members say the district's massive closure plan is not dead, and they expect it will come back before the board in the next two weeks. The district administration and some board members say the plan is essential to meeting terms of a state-mandated deficit reduction plan to erase a $200 million debt. The latest plan would have saved nearly $17 million annually.
To read The Detroit News article, click here.

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