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detroit public schools community district

Nikolai Vitti
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Detroit’s new schools superintendent knows he’s taking on a tough job, but he’s also convinced the troubled district can turn around, and prove that “traditional urban public education works.”

Nikolai Vitti has started laying the groundwork for that. He took over as superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District last week.

Nikolai Vitti shakes hands at a teacher recruitment fair at Detroit's Martin Luther King, Jr. High School.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s new schools superintendent says it’s “time to think differently” about some pressing issues—including the district’s chronic, ongoing teacher shortage.

It’s Nikolai Vitti’s first week on the job as head of the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

On Monday, Vitti met with teachers’ union leadership, visited two schools, and stopped by a teacher recruitment fair. He said the lack of teachers in too many classrooms is taking a toll on everyone in DPSCD schools.

Flickr user Frank Juarez / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Detroit Public School Community District confirmed Dr. Nikolai Vitti as its new superintendent Monday.

The Financial Review Commission, which oversees the school's finances,  voted yesterday to approve a five-year contract with Vitti, who previously had been superintendent of the Duval County Public Schools in Florida. 

In a statement, president of DPSCD’s Board of Education Dr. Iris Taylor said the board is thrilled to work with Vitti.

Durfee Elementary-Middle School in Northwest Detroit
Jenna Belevender

 

Durfee Elementary-Middle School on Detroit’s northwest side is a spectacular neo-gothic building flush with architectural detail. As you walk through the main entrance, you’re greeted by highly decorative arches, rich paneling, and Pewabic-tiled floors.

 

Built in the early 1900s, generations of Detroiters have attended Durfee.  

 

Late Friday, it was announced that the Detroit Federation of Teachers and the Detroit Public Schools Community District had reached a tentative contract agreement after nearly three months of negotiations.

Now, the teacher's union says it has dismissed that agreement.

The union announced late Monday that its executive board voted to reject the agreement, and that it wants to continue negotiations.

Details about the terms of Friday's agreement haven't been released.

The sinkhole in Macomb County.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The state Legislature is back in Lansing after a two week break. Before they left for vacation, lawmakers in the House and Senate were at odds over how to fund a fix for the sinkhole mess in Macomb County. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether legislators will be able to play nice long enough to get this sorted out.

Brian Turner / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A new legal challenge is putting a pause on negotiations between the Detroit Public Schools Community District board and Nikolai Vitti, who was chosen as the district's new superintendent this week.

The challenge was filed by Robert Davis, a community activist who threatened the action after the board's decision to hire Vitti was announced. He is seeking a temporary restraining order that would stop the board from negotiating with Vitti.

Out of the 38 under-performing schools that could be closed in Michigan, 25 of them are located in Metro Detroit.
Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

After months of interviews and discussions, the Detroit Public Schools Community District school board has chosen Dr. Nikolai Vitti to be its next superintendent.

The vote to enter contract negotiations with Vitti is the first major decision by the board, which was created last year.

Dr. Vitti is currently the superintendent of schools in Duval County, Florida, but he grew up in Dearborn Heights and graduated from Divine Child High School in Dearborn.

The other finalist for the job was River Rouge superintendent Derrick Coleman.

test with bubble answers
User Alberto G. / Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Detroit Public Schools Community District starts giving students the M-STEP test this week. That’s the annual statewide test used to measure student achievement.

But more than 400 Detroit parents have opted for their kids to sit out the test, because they’re upset that the state uses that data to justify closing schools.

The unusually large number of opt-outs comes mostly as a result of a campaign organized by the Detroit Parent Network.

CEO Sharlonda Buckman says Detroit parents have come to feel “extremely disrespected” by state education officials.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A special board meeting has been scheduled to give updates in the Detroit Public Schools Community District's search for a new superintendent.

The meeting is open to the public and will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at district offices in the Fisher Building.

Interviews have been held with superintendent candidates Nikolai Vitti of Florida's Duval County schools and River Rouge Superintendent Derrick Coleman.

Out of the 38 under-performing schools that could be closed in Michigan, 25 of them are located in Metro Detroit.
Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Three school districts in the state are getting some extra help.

The state has approved grants totaling three million dollars. The money is for consolidating and merging schools and resources in the districts.

“The consolidation grants support strategic consolidation of districts where it makes sense,” said Michigan Department of Education spokesperson Bill DiSessa. “Streamlining their services and operations in other cases, the grants help defray the costs and increase efficiencies in these districts.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s school board interviewed the district’s second and final superintendent candidate Monday evening.

Derrick Coleman is the current superintendent of River Rouge Community Schools. He’s a Detroit Public Schools alumnus, and started his career as a teacher and administrator in the district.

He touted his success in a district that’s much smaller than Detroit’s, but has similar demographics.

Detroit Public School Distric sign
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Finalists vying for the job of Detroit schools’ superintendent will start the public interview process this week, but some people think the best candidate isn’t in the running.

Choosing a new superintendent is the first major task for Detroit’s newly-elected school board, which just took power in January after years of state control. But the process has already become messy and controversial.

Paul Ryan
Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Republican US House leaders on Friday withdrew their bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the bill from the floor after it was clear the measure would not have enough votes to pass. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether Gov. Rick Snyder and Healthy Michigan advocates can breath a sigh of relief.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

At a meeting with Detroit parents and school administrators earlier this week, one of the governor's advisors told the crowd "there's no way in the world" the state will close 38 failing schools this year.

Flickr user Frank Juarez/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

One of Governor Snyder’s key advisors says “there’s no way in the world” the state will close 38 “failing” schools this year.

That’s what Rich Baird told the crowd at a Detroit meeting about potential school closures Monday night.

The State School Reform Office has sent letters to parents at 38 schools across the state, warning they could be shut down because of persistently low test scores. 25 of those schools are in Detroit.

The three high schools that make up the Osborn campus could all close at the end of this school year.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Lansing spent $617 million last year to keep the Detroit Public Schools alive. That solved the district’s massive debt problem, but it didn’t start to touch some of the district’s other chronic issues.

A year ago, Detroit schools were in genuine crisis. The district was cycling through state-appointed emergency managers, and faced the prospect of going bankrupt before the end of the school year.

And that was just some of the turmoil.


Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is prepared to sue the state if it moves ahead on its threat to shut down some low-performing schools.

The district’s school board approved the potential lawsuit at a meeting Wednesday night.

DPSCD has 16 schools that the State School Reform Office has named persistently low-performing, and at risk for closure after this school year.

But the district says the state shouldn’t shut those schools down. And it’s prepared to go to court to stop it.

Mapping the options for kids in failing Detroit schools

Jan 25, 2017
map of Detroit with possible closures marked
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

There are 25 schools in Detroit waiting to hear whether they’ll be closing their doors at the end of the school year.

So, where would all those students end up if those schools did close?

Click on the map to see the nearby options for each possible closure and how they stack up academically.

Detroit school leaders point to Coleman A. Young Elementary School as a successful turnarond effort led from within the district.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit school leaders say they’re ready to take on the task of transforming some of the state’s lowest-performing schools.

But first, they’re inviting counterparts from around the country to a “learning summit” next week, to discuss and formulate a broader school turnaround strategy.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Legislature is back in session, and the bills are rolling in. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and Michigan Radio senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry look at a bill that would phase out the state income tax, and another that would end daylight saving time in Michigan.

They also discuss Education Secretary nominee Betsy Devos' rescheduled confirmation hearing, Detroit's newly elected school board, and Gov. Rick Snyder's upcoming State of the State address.

(Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here.)

Detroit Public School Distric sign
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

New Detroit school board members officially took office Wednesday night.

It’s the first time the district has had a true school board since a series of emergency managers took over in 2009.

The district is in much better financial shape after a state-sponsored aid package passed in June. In fact, it currently has a budget surplus.

But it faces a number of chronic problems, including 264 vacant teaching positions. 163 are now being staffed by substitutes, interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather told board members.