2011 March 26 – Great Things are Happening in DPS

From the desk of Robert C. Bobb

DPS is poised for transformation under Renaissance 2012 Plan

Dear parents, guardians, and stakeholders,

Recently, I announced that Detroit Public Schools is poised for radical and necessary change as we work to transform persistently-failing schools and address our $327 million deficit. To that end, my team and I have proposed the DPS Renaissance 2012 Plan, a transformative way to radically restructure academically-failing schools and significantly reduce operating costs by seeking proposals from local and national groups and charter school operators with proven track records for 45 of the district’s 141 schools.

The plan aims to create a portfolio of outstanding schools to build upon DPS’ successful programs, including arts schools, college preparatory schools, career tech centers, charters and others.

Operators will be selected based on a competitive and rigorous bidding process to run the schools as public school academies with Detroit Public Schools as the authorizer.

It’s important for parents to understand that students living within the neighborhood will be given priority enrollment, and charter operators will be contractually required to meet all special education needs of enrolled students.

It’s also imperative to point out that this plan supports the district’s state-mandated Deficit Elimination Plan by reducing operating costs by $75-$99 million and is an alternative to school closures.   To be clear, our state-required Deficit Elimination Plan requires us to close 70 schools in the next two years. Instead of closing 43 schools this year, the DPS Renaissance 2012 Plan seeks to prevent that by allowing the best operators locally and nationally to run them.

Radical change is necessary to transform this district, which has been failing too many students for far too long. Rather than simply closing schools, this plan seeks to transform DPS into one of the nation’s premier urban school districts by recruiting some of the best, proven school operators to serve Detroit’s children.

We will soon announce community meetings dates to learn more. You can also call (313) 240-4377 or go to www.detroitk12.org/renaissance2012 or emailrenaissance2012@detroitk12.org .

To read more about the Renaissance Plan, please go to http://detroitk12.org/news/article/2267/

Academic Highlights

DPS dramatically expands student participation in regional science fair; 568 students from 69 schools to display projects

Detroit Public Schools had 568 students in grades six through 12 from 69 schools represented in the 54th Annual Science and Engineering Fair of Metropolitan Detroit. The fair is one of the largest of its kind in the nation.

DPS participation at the high school level has risen 43 percent over last year, thanks to a renewed academic emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects and DPS Emergency Manager Robert Bobb’s challenge to district schools to increase student participation in science fairs and other STEM-related activities.

Under the five-year academic plan that went into effect last fall, DPS has strengthened its STEM curriculum and worked with the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) to help science teachers and students prepare for the fair. The district also worked with the regional science fair and the Detroit Public Library to offer student workshops on how to enter the science fair.

Parent involvement

DPS parent involvement adds up!

The first 500 Detroit Public Schools parents and guardians who come into one of eight DPS Parent Resource Centers and sign up for an “I’m In” Parent Involvement card beginning Wednesday, March 16, will receive a $25 Target gift card as part effort to encourage more involvement in DPS schools. There will be a two-week verification process. The winners will be called, and they can retrieve their cards at their designated parent resource center.

The “I’m In” card will be used to track parent engagement and workshops in the eight parent resource centers. Every time parents use their card, they will receive points that will earn them entries into raffles and free prizes, including Family Fun packages, luncheons, and a weekend get-away. For example:

  • Attend Parent Teacher Conferences: 100 Pts
  • Volunteer at the Parent Resource Center: 25 Pts
  • Attend a workshop: 50 Pts

The” I’m In” card also carries discounts to local retailers, including Conner Coaching, Forman Mills, Goodyear on E. Grand Blvd and more.

“We know that having involved parents has a direct impact on student achievement, so we will continue to find fun, creative and impactful ways to get our parents engaged,” said Monica Johnson, program supervisor for the DPS Office of Parent and Community Engagement.

To see current workshops, go to: http://detroitk12.org/admin/communications/parent_and_community_engagement/

School Construction

New athletic gym completes $8.4 million renovation of Bethune-Fitzgerald Academy

An $8.4 million renovation of Bethune-Fitzgerald Academy, 1845 Puritan Street, that includes a brand new 10,100-square-foot athletic wing addition, equipped with a 10-foot climbing wall, is complete. The Bethune-Fitzgerald project, finished in just eight months, is the second school to be 100% completed under of the DPS School Construction Program funded by voter-approved Proposal S dollars.

The new 10,100-square-foot gymnasium addition includes:

  • A 10-foot climbing wall
  • 6 basketball hoops: 2 for full-court play and 4 additional for half-court play
  • Electronic scoreboard
  • Bleacher seating for 200
  • Finished wood flooring with stanchion poles for a volleyball court set up
  • Locker rooms with shower facilities
  • Air conditioning

“It is apparent that Robert Bobb and his administration realized the needs that existed in this district,” said Principal Melissa Scott. “We want to thank them all for their support and quick response as it relates to our new gym. It will serve as a Beacon of light in this community and satisfy some of the health and safety needs that exist for our children and this community.”

To read more, go to http://detroitk12.org/news/article/2258/

Demolition of former Cass Technical High School begins

Demolition of the former Cass Technical High School has begun on the 1981 addition of the building that housed the athletic wing, cafeteria and some classrooms. It will take about 10 weeks to complete the first phase of the demolition. The second phase to take down the original nearly 90-year-old part of the school will begin in June when students leave campus for summer.

The $3.1 million project, part of Detroit Public Schools’ $500.5 million bond construction program voters approved in 2009, includes razing the entire 830,000-square-foot building, cutting and capping off of all utility connections, and targeted salvage of historical building artifacts. The demolition is following strict guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to ensure the safety of students in the adjacent structure through June.

Once demolition is complete this summer, the site, bounded by Second Avenue, the Fisher Freeway service drive and Grand River Avenue, will become a green space on the campus for outdoor school activities. A permanent perimeter fence will be installed around the grounds that will be backfilled, graded and seeded.  A majority of the demolition work is being performed by 1-Way Service, a Detroit-Headquartered subcontractor of Homrich Wrecking. The former school was the site of fires and vandalism.

Two entry arches, plaques, a relief sculpture, bricks and other artifacts will be salvaged. The Detroit Public School Foundation (DPSF) is currently selling Cass Tech bricks. Proceeds benefit Cass Tech and DPSF, which provides support for academic programs at Detroit Public Schools. DPSF’s offerings will soon include bricks from Finney and Chadsey High Schools.  Each brick is presented elegantly, with a protective sealant and bronze, silver or gold finished plaque. Silver and gold plaques may be personalized with a name and graduation year. Go to www.detroitpsfoundation.org

To read more, go to http://detroitk12.org/news/article/2279/

DPS revamps Career and Technical programming to better prepare students for post-secondary programs, 21st Century jobs

Starting this fall, the students in Detroit Public Schools’ 43 Career and Technical Education programs will receive roadmaps called Programs of Study to guide them from ninth grade through post-secondary education and careers.

The Programs of Study guidelines are just one of the changes Detroit Public Schools is implementing as it revamps its CTE programs to ensure students are more prepared for the demands of 21st century employment. The announcement coincides with U.S. Department of Education’s Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education Brenda Dann-Messier’s tour of Davis Aerospace High School and round table discussion at Golightly Career and Technical Center, as part of a two-day visit to Detroit to gather information on CTE issues that will inform national policy.

“The Programs of Study will give our students a seamless pathway from high school to their careers, and ensure that they immediately meet all the prerequisites for post-secondary programs upon graduation,” said Cedric Thompson, DPS Executive Director of College and Career Readiness. “We have sought the expertise of colleges and universities, business and industry and education experts to help us design the most relevant guidelines for our students.”

Students in CTE programs will receive detailed grade-by-grade roadmaps that will outline the courses they will need to take each year in order to graduate fully prepared to enter their chosen post-secondary programs. The Programs of Study will list the DPS credits that colleges will accept, under new articulation agreements that are currently being negotiated.

To read more, go to http://detroitk12.org/news/article/2264/

Chrysler, Edison, Oakman and Murphy schools to participate in pilot Success For All reading program starting this fall

Students in grades pre-K-6 at four Detroit Public Schools will get tutoring help, new educational materials and problem –solving skills this fall as part of the Detroit pilot of the Success For All reading program, which aims to ensure every child reads at grade level.

SFA is a researched-based, comprehensive school improvement program that uses a cooperative team approach at every level of a school building — from students to principals — to raise achievement. Its unique approach includes a variety of instructional techniques, professional development for teachers and staff, frequent assessments of student progress and an online data tracking system that allows teachers to quickly respond to students’ educational needs.

Chrysler, Edison and Oakman elementary schools and Murphy Elementary-Middle School will pilot the Kindercorner, Reading Roots and Reading Wings literacy programs starting in September.

The $1.28 million five-year program will eventually serve 10 schools and is being implemented with stimulus funds through the Investing in Innovation grant from the U.S. Department of Education as well as matching funds from the Kellogg Foundation.

To read more, go to http://detroitk12.org/news/article/2259/

DPS parent news hotline gets a makeover with “voice” of WRCJ-FM


The Detroit Public Schools’ Parent News and Information phone line recording – 313 873-4636—has undergone a makeover and is now being recorded by Donald Walker, who serves as the familiar “voice” of WRCJ-FM.

Donald Walker, director of production and education for Detroit Public Schools/WRCJ FM 90.9. and the emcee for three DPS radio shows on WRCJ, will deliver the news on Mondays weekly for DPS’ Parent News and Information phone line recording. Walker also functions as the “voice of the station” at WRCJ-FM, producing underwriting announcements, promos and pre-recorded programs like ArtiFacts, DSO Unmasked and Jazz at the Center.

As the new voice of the DPS Parent News and Information Line, Walker will give parents weekly updates about Detroit Public Schools, chronicling news stories and touting the Great Things Happening in schools and districtwide. Walker also emcees the “Detroit Public Schools Radio Program,” a 60-minute news variety show produced by students at the Detroit School of Arts that airs the first Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. on WRCJ FM, which is owned by DPS and managed in a partnership with Detroit Public Television. WRCJ is the premier Classical and Jazz music radio station in Southeast Michigan.

Walker also emcees DPS: Backstage,” a monthly, hour-long showcase of arts in the district that airs on the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m., and “Inside DPS,” a 30-minute program airing biweekly on Sundays at 7 p.m. Through the shows, he works to showcase students with broadcast interest from across the district. Students who have appeared on the various programs have come from Cass, Detroit School of Arts, Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High, Gompers, J.R. King and Detroit International Academy.

Get involved

Detroit Public Schools Foundation gets charge from GM; First Volt auction funds key programs

Thanks to a public auction by General Motors Corporation and Chevrolet offering the first Chevy Volt for sale to the public to benefit the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, (DPSF) has been able to fund a number of programs that focus on science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) enrichment in the Detroit Public Schools (DPS). The winning bid was $225,000.

These proceeds have been allocated to critical science and developmental programs, sending 60 DPS elementary and middle school students to compete in the U.S. Chess Federation’s national K-9 championship tournament in Columbus, Ohio on April 14-17 and 30 DPS high school students to compete in the Federation’s national K-12 championship tournament in Nashville, Tennessee on April 28-May 1.

The mission of the DPSF is to raise, manage and steward funds and other resources to support value-added programs and activities for the benefit of the Detroit Public Schools and its students. DPSF is a 501 ©3 non-profit operating independently of the Detroit Public Schools. Visit http://www.detroitpsfoundation.org

To read more, go to http://detroitk12.org/news/article/2268/

News in brief

Harron Atkins of Detroit Cass Technical High School Wins State Poetry Out Loud Championship

Harron Atkins, a senior at Cass Technical High School, won the 2011 Poetry Out Loud state championship in East Lansing. Atkins won out against 30 other contestants from across Michigan.  He will receive a $200 cash award and an all expense paid trip to the national finals in Washington, D.C., April 27–29.

To read more, go to http://detroitk12.org/news/article/2269/

Christopher Terry of Renaissance High School wins national art award

Renaissance High School student Christopher Terry has received the Gold Medal Best in Class National Award for photography from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

Mass Media Program at Golightly Career and Technical Center named High School Radio Station/Program of the Year

The Mass Media Program at Golightly Career and Technical Center was named the “High School Radio Station/Program of the Year” by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Foundation on March 9 at the Great Lakes Broadcasting Conference and Expo in Lansing, Michigan.

The Mass Media Program became eligible for the title when students picked up 10 awards in the 2011 Michigan High School and College Broadcast Awards Competition in various radio categories. MABF also rewarded Mass Media student Jalen Dann with a $750 High School Broadcast Scholarship. He will be attending Michigan State University in the fall to study Broadcast Journalism.

Broadcast veterans Dana Hughes and Todd Harris head the Mass Media Program at Golightly Career and Technical Center. Students in grades 10-12 from various local high schools participate in the Mass Media Program, where they learn all components of radio broadcasting and audio production as well as television broadcasting and video production.

Detroit Public School’s Finney Highlanders competed at the 2011 FIRST Robotics’ Detroit District Event hosted by Wayne State University

After a demanding six-week robot build season, the third-year Highlanders were competing for the first time this year.  With a rough start to the qualification matches, Finney’s Team was ranked 36th of 40.  Fortunately, the #1 seeded team– The Thunderchickens from Utica Community Schools– saw beyond the rankings and selected Finney with their second pick to compete with them in the Saturday afternoon NCAA-style elimination tournament.  Finney accepted the invitation to join Utica and Wings of Fire from the Pontiac School District, as the #1 alliance.

After a hard fought battle, the alliance emerged victorious as the 2011 Detroit District Event Winners and brought home the gold medals.  This is the first time the Highlanders have won an event, and they are thrilled.  Finney thanked the other teams for the opportunity to join their alliance, as well as for the patience and support they were shown as they adapted to the alliance’s needs.

Detroit Finney High School’s robotics team has been established for three years, under the guidance of two mentors who are engineers with General Motors, Tito Huffman and Mark Kramarczyk. The mentors volunteer their time to teach the principles of science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and everyday life skills to Detroit Public School students at Finney High School on Detroit’s eastside.  You can find out more about Finney Highlander Robotics at www.FinneyRobotics.org

Upcoming Events

Alumni Association recruits members with Parade Co. Big Heads

Join and support the DPS Alumni Association! The association will join the Parade Company Big Heads to recruit new members on Wednesday, March 30 from 4-6 p.m. in front of the Spirit of Detroit Statue in downtown Detroit at the corner of Woodward and Jefferson.

Join the DPS Alumni Association at:

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Great Things Are Happening in DPS! Listen to WRCJ 90.9 fm:
Detroit Public Schools’ Radio — first Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m.
DPS: Backstage — second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m.
Inside DPS — bi-weekly on Sundays at 7 p.m.
Something great happening in your school? Call 313-494-6407

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