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New plan could bring Montessori, Arabic to Detroit Public Schools

Apr 19, 2016

As part of an effort to boost enrollment and academic achievement, Detroit Public Schools plans to open a Montessori program and a dual-language Arabic technical school as part of an effort to boost enrollment and academic achievement. 

In Monday’s news release, former federal judge Steven Rhodes, the DPS transition manager, introduced his plan to implement a Montessori school system, an Arabic immersion technical school, and an enhanced emphasis on technology in the district: 

“To further enhance enrollment in DPS, we solicited from our educators proposals to raise academic achievement levels, serve diverse communities and increase enrollment. We received over three dozen such proposals, 12 of which will be implemented. These include the city’s first Montessori school, an Arabic immersion technical school, and a refocus on using technology to enhance learning.”

Ann Zaniewski of the Detroit Free Press reported on Rhodes' financial and operating plan, its positives and its negatives: 

“The report spotlights the positive: Enrollment is more stable (though it's still declining), the district's accumulated operating deficit is lower than expected and no schools will be closed in 2016-17. There are also items listed as, "Not So Good Things Happening at DPS." Among them: The U.S. Department of Education has filed a claim against DPS for an estimated $25 million to $30 million in overpayment of grant funds to the district.”

According to Zaniewski, the plan would open two new Montessori open school programs – one in Midtown and one in northwest Detroit. The plan would also phase in the new Arabic Dual Language Immersion and Technology Academy. Opening dates have not been determined.

The DPS school district could feel the effects of Rhodes' new financial and operational plan for 2016.
Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The statement spoke about the technological deficiencies in Detroit Public Schools. 

"Although improving, overall DPS educational outcomes are inadequate," the plan says. "DPS must do a better job of preparing students for a successful college education or technical career." 

Rhodes said in a statement to the Detroit Free Press that the plan, which has been delivered to the state, is also a step toward improving the district's finances. According to the statement, DPS is expected to have an accumulated operating deficit of $236.8 million at the end of June. This is better than expected – officials last year were projecting a $312.9 million deficit. 

Rhodes' report follows the Michigan Senate's $720 million plan that was created last month to address the district's crushing debt. The Senate's plan was also made in an attempt to give a second, appointed board the power to close low-performing schools.   

A public meeting about Rhodes' plan will be held at 5 p.m. on May 10 at Martin Luther King Jr. High School.