A school district deep in debt that has lost over 100,000 students in the past 15 years is finding innovative ways to serve the community and create growth, and are seeking to boost enrollment by opening a new Arabic Technical school for Pre-K to 2nd graders.
Fifteen years ago, 150,000 students were enrolled in the Detroit Public School system. Now they are down to just over 45,000, and operating with a $236 million deficit. The state Senate just approved a $720 million bail-out plan last month to keep the school system operational, and the plan is currently under consideration in the House. The school is hoping it is approved by mid-June or they’re going to be struggling to start the next school term.
In addition, the federal government is requesting repayment of between $25 million to $30 million in grant money that the school system received but didn’t use. The money was supposed to be spent on the school employees’ retirement system but wasn’t.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Related: Arabic Language and Culture Classes Expanding In Schools[/pullquote]
The former bankruptcy judge for the city of Detroit, Steven Rhodes, is now the Detroit Public School’s transition manager, trying to get the school system back on its feet. Part of the plan to boost enrollment for the school in desperate financial straights is to open three additional schools in the district for Pre-K to 2nd graders – two new Montessori schools, and a new Arabic Dual Language Immersion and Technology Academy.
One school official, Steve Wasko, explained the idea behind the new schools. “We need to innovate,” says Wasko. “We know that we need to serve the community; we know that we need to serve emerging communities in the case of some of the cultural and ethnic communities in the city of Detroit as well. We know that we need to infuse as much innovation as possible.”
Sign up to get breaking news alerts from Dennis Michael Lynch.