Enrollment in Detroit Public Schools Community District is up for the first time in 15 years. The recent fall count is 50,100 students, up ten percent from last year's 45,500.
According to Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, this year saw the lowest departure of students to charter schools in four years, with fewer students leaving for surrounding districts and more returning.
Vitti said enrollment is one of the most important indicators of the health of a school district.
"Why? Because enrollment is the intentional act of parents saying 'I choose you as the place that I am entrusting educators to make sure that my child's God-given academic and civic potential becomes a reality,'" said Vitti.
Vitti attributed enrollment increases to Detroit's having an elected, empowered school board.
"I think the community is recognizing that for the first time in over a decade that we have true local control," said Vitti. "Lansing is not dictating our decision-making."
Vitti said higher enrollments have translated into an $11 million increase in state money for the district.
Along with the enrollment announcement, Vitti unveiled today an ambitious three-year strategic plan for rebuilding the district's schools.
Priorities include improving student achievement and teacher recruitment and retention.
"My greatest concern is teacher vacancies," said Vitti. "We have to be fully staffed."
Vitti said the district currently has about 150 vacancies. That's down more than 100 from last year's average.
Vitti said Detroit's economic renaissance depends on the success of its public schools.
"As we see the rebirth of business in Detroit, as we see new stadiums coming aboard, new companies coming in, we will never reach the potential that this city offers unless we have stronger public education, and we give excellence to all students," said Vitti.