DPS Student workers graduate from construction trades program as part of $500.5 million capital improvement program

Contact: Steven Wasko at 313-873-4542; Cell: 313-212-5636; steven.wasko@detroitk12.org
or Jennifer Mrozowski at 313-873-8401; Cell: 313-401-9018; jennifer.mrozowski@detroitk12.org

Detroit-Seventy-one Detroit Public Schools students hired to work this summer as part of the district’s $500.5 million DPS School Construction Project funded by Proposal S bond dollars graduated today from a nine-week construction trades learning program at the Randolph Career and Technical Center, 17101 Hubbell Street, where they received a certificate of achievement, personal letter of recommendation and a $900 incentive bonus for completing the program.

The DPS Student Summer Work Program combined classroom instruction with on-site job experience in construction trades for student workers age 16 to 21. Students earned more than $4,000 during the nine-week program and were exposed to all aspects of the School Construction Program. Some students have already been offered jobs, as a result.

“Not only are we changing the landscape of Detroit and DPS by building or remodeling 18 schools that – within three years — will allow our students to be educated in state-of-the-art facilities that you see in the best school districts, but we also promised voters during the Proposal S campaign that the DPS construction project would create thousands of new jobs for Detroit residents,” said DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb.

“DPS has awarded $180.4 million in contracts for the first 10 projects in the capital improvement program – all in prime contracts to Detroit-headquartered firms. We are keeping our promises. We are providing jobs for Detroiters and we are growing workers of the future. The students graduating today from the DPS Student Summer Work Program, who learned valuable skills in construction trades, are the best evidence of that.”

Student workers were taught job skills that provided them with more opportunities for a career in skilled trades, design and construction management. Under the supervision of the DPS School Construction Project contractors, current DPS high school students and recent graduates were exposed to the three primary aspects of the Bond program: Design, Construction and Management. They worked in architects’ studios and construction offices, shadowed trades workers and attended project and performance meetings.

“The program was very fun because it helps teenagers to become adults and learn how you are supposed to act at your job,” said 18-year-old Dean Williams, who attended Detroit High School of Technology. “It gives everyone a chance to be involved in building our schools and to get real world experience.”

Student workers rotated between 10 job sites where construction projects to build and renovate the district’s schools began this summer. They also received classroom instruction at the Philip Randolph Career and Technical Center.

“At Randolph Technical Center, the students were exposed to various trades that showed them the value of hard work. It gave them a sense of pride to know that something they started can be completed if they stick with it,” said Marcus Huff, Program Manager for the DPS student work program. “I believe the students learned values such as being punctual, experiencing the professional world, and learning how to deliver for your employer and your clients.”

The summer work program was open district-wide to currently enrolled or recently graduated DPS students age 16 to 21. Applicants also had to pass an interview evaluation and maintain a 2.5 grade point average to be accepted in the program.

The DPS Student Summer Work Program complied with child labor regulations established by the United States Department of Labor and youth employment standards set by the Michigan Legislature for workers under age 18.

“This is the best summer job I ever had,” said 17-year-old Jessica Jennings, a Central High School graduate. “I hope I will be able to have the same opportunity next year.”

Detroit voters approved the Proposal S Bond Referendum last November which enabled the district to access $500.5 million in federal dollars for school capital improvement projects. DPS received the 6th largest allocation in the nation.

The DPS School Construction Project will build a total of seven new schools and a new police command center. Eleven more schools will receive extensive renovations or additions. All 18 schools are scheduled for completion by September 2012 to comply with federal guidelines.

The three-year improvement project also includes district-wide technology upgrades and security initiatives being funded with the Proposal S dollars. Federal regulations mandate the bond dollars must be spent within three years.

For more on the DPS School Construction Project go to www.dpsschoolconstruction.org.

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