DPS unveils $500.5 million construction project to modernize buildings, create Centers of Excellence

The Detroit Public Schools on Tuesday unveiled a $500.5 million capital improvement program to rebuild or completely renovate 18 schools as part of the district’s mission to create Centers of Excellence in every school in every neighborhood.

The project, to be completed in 36 months, would take advantage of historic stimulus bond financing under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Obama.

The federal stimulus program makes this project possible with no tax increase.

“The opportunity to modernize and secure our buildings, provided through federal stimulus funds, will help us continue the academic transformation taking place in the Detroit Public Schools,” said Emergency Financial Manager Robert C. Bobb. Bobb made the announcement at Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School, which would be torn down and completely rebuilt into a $54.5 million 21st Century learning facility. Ground would be broken on that project in January.

Voters would have an opportunity to consider the $500.5 million capital improvement program through a November ballot measure. The State of Michigan already has reviewed and approved the bond application.

The project is central to the district’s academic vision to modernize school buildings with the most up-to-date technology. It will also support the district’s ongoing high school transformation to create smaller learning communities in schools, increase safety and security and allow the district to standardize the pre-K to grade 8 model.

“By taking advantage of these historic funds, we will be able to create 21st century learning environments for students who are now in dilapidated and outdated schools,” Bobb said. “This construction project will also greatly improve the district’s operational efficiency and general fund solvency and will mean safe, modern schools that are specifically designed to support research-based learning.”

The project also would help stabilize local property tax values by building new and remodeled buildings in communities throughout the city and would generate at least 3,725 direct jobs and 7,000 indirect jobs.

Community meetings will be held after the start of the school year to allow for full input in neighborhoods where schools would be recommended for closure for the following school year.

As an important accountability measure, Bobb will establish an oversight committee that will be in charge of reviewing every aspect of the ongoing construction and funding.

“Because we believe this project is so important to enhancing learning environments for Detroit’s schoolchildren, we want to give voters full confidence in it,” Bobb said. “That means making the process fully transparent and open to review. An oversight committee will ensure that.”

The combination of new schools, closures and renovations will allow a net reduction in overall capacity of the school district of nearly 1 million square feet and more than 10,000 seats through the start of the fall 2013 school term. At that point, the district would operate 19 fewer schools than it presently does.

Annual fixed operating costs would be reduced by approximately $12 million and annual operating efficiencies and avoidance of repair and maintenance costs would be reduced by $2.7 million.

Project totals are $314,875,000 in new construction; $165,180,000 in renovation; and $19,945,000 for decommission and demolition.

The capital program builds upon Detroit Public Schools’ successful 2009 Summer Enhancement Program, a construction project that is an integral part of the District’s Facility Consolidation and Reinvestment Plan. The district invested $32 million in enhancements to 42 schools, which included new lighting, walls, roofing, playscapes, restroom upgrades, safety upgrades with security and signage and heating and cooling repairs and replacements.

The program also directly ties into the district’s ongoing initiatives to take full advantage of stimulus funding for academics, including a $148.4 million reinvestment plan to transform the educational system that was announced in July. That initiative includes programs that result in class size reduction, extended day programs, high priority school partnerships, Netbooks for all DPS students in grades 6-12 as well as their teachers, “Double Dosing” of high school math and ELA instruction, expanded professional development and supplemental learning materials.

About the stimulus program:
* The Federal Government has allocated $246,540,000 of Qualified School Construction Bonds directly to DPS for 2009 and 2010. The residents of Detroit will be asked to cast their vote to take advantage of this opportunity.
* Another stimulus opportunity available only in 2009 and 2010 is Build America Bonds, allowing $254 million of these bonds to be issued as a part of the program and this ballot.

The capital projects include:
Bethune Academy, $ 8,605,811, Renovated Facility
Brightmoor PK-8, $32,180,556, New Facility
Chadsey High School, $41,488,148, New Facility
Cooley High, $8,306,132, Renovated Facility
Denby High School, $24,819,339, Renovated and / or New Facility
Duffield, PK-8 $8,578,108, Renovated Facility
Finney High School, $53,467,428, New Facility
Ford High School, $20,594,893, Renovated and / or New Facility
JR King PK-8, $15,896,250 Renovated Facility
Marcus Garvey PK-8 $11,271,996 Renovated Facility
Mark Twain PK-8 $8,597,281 Renovated Facility
Martin Luther King, Jr. High School $54,469,031 New Facility
Maybury PK-8 $37,406,135 New Facility
McNair PK-8 $21,979,291 New Facility
Mumford High School $54,746,160 New Facility
Munger PK-8 $18,374,295 New Facility
Northwestern High School $26,870,380 Renovated and / or New Facility
Western International High School $28,610,966 Renovated and / or New Facility

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