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Superintendent: Detroit schools will start short on teachers, but with positive "momentum"

Sep 1, 2017

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is starting the new school year with an old problem: teacher vacancies.

But new DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says the district has “momentum” on fixing the problem.

The district still has about 200 classroom spots to fill before school starts Tuesday.

That’s a lot, but Vitti says it’s not quite as bad a situation as it was this same time last year.  And now the district has 11 schools returning from the now-defunct, state-run Education Achievement Authority.

“Apples to apples, we’re actually much better than we were last year at the opening,” Vitti said. “But at the end of the day, every child deserves to have a teacher the first day of school.”

Vitti says that should be the case for most students since the vacancies are largely spread throughout the district’s 108 schools. About 50 are in the former EAA schools.

DPSCD held a final summer recruitment fair Tuesday, but Vitti says the district will continue to recruit and hire teachers after the school year begins. And it’s keeping a policy of hiring only state-certified teachers, despite a law passed by Lansing last year that would allow DPSCD schools—and only those schools—to hire uncertified teachers.

“And I think this conversation is a much different one next year when we have an entire year to recruit and retain teachers,” Vitti said.

Part of the district’s “multiple strategies” to do that? A new teacher contract, which includes the first raises for teachers in over a decade, and less required testing in the classroom.