Nationally-experienced association, charter leader to guide Detroit Public Schools’ Renaissance 2012 plan

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers served in a similar role in the development of charter schools in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

Detroit Public Schools has engaged the national leader in charter school authorizing to work with DPS on the proposal and startup process for the DPS Renaissance Plan 2012, a transformative plan to engage proven charter school operators.

Under an agreement announced today, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) will assist Detroit Public Schools’ Renaissance 2012 initiative as the district creates a competitive and rigorous RFP (Request for Proposal) process to seek schools that it will authorize as charters beginning in fall 2011 as part of DPS’ plan to create a portfolio of outstanding schools.

NACSA will evaluate applications for new charter schools that wish to open this fall in Detroit and will make recommendations to the district on those applications by early June. NACSA will also monitor the start-up activities of the approved schools over the summer and will develop the application process for schools to start in the fall of 2012.

NACSA, led by President and CEO Greg Richmond, has broad, long-term turnaround experience in working with large urban school districts seeking to authorize charters. The Louisiana Department of Education retained NACSA to assist in the rebuilding of the city’s public education system when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005. The city now boasts the largest number of charter schools of any city in the nation and studies show the New Orleans schools have made academic gains.

NACSA President and CEO Greg Richmond states, “These are challenging times for public education in Detroit, but I am confident that charter schools that meet high standards of academic and financial performance will greatly benefit the children, families and taxpayers of Detroit.”

The DPS Renaissance 2012 Plan seeks to radically restructure academically-failing schools and significantly reduce operating costs by seeking proposals from local and national groups and charter school operators for 45 of the district’s 141 schools.

NACSA will assist in developing the RFP, application content and criteria, creating benchmarks, proposal review and an ongoing process moving forward. A community engagement strategy will be undertaken by Detroit Public Schools and community partners. A tentative timeline calls for the RFP to be released April 6 with submissions due by the end of April and all decisions made by the first week in June.

Because time is limited, DPS and NACSA will establish high standards for organizations applying to start a school this fall. Only proposals from successful charter school networks that already operate at least two schools in Michigan will be fully considered this year. Other applicants will be asked to apply to start a school in the fall of 2012.

“We want to encourage local educators, parents and community organizations to consider starting a charter school in Detroit. However, if you are new to this or perhaps are operating just one charter school now, we’d like you to focus your efforts on the 2012 application process. We’re in this for the long run,” Richmond said.

NACSA has more than a decade of experience in advising charter school authorizers and researching authorizer practices. Through countless interactions with authorizers across the country, NACSA has established industry-recognized principles and standards for high quality charter school authorizing. The organization seeks to create authorizing environments that lead to high quality education opportunities for students through improved practice in the approval, oversight and renewal of charter schools. Richmond is a founding board member of NACSA and has served as the organization’s president and CEO for more than five years. In addition to NACSA’s and Richmond’s work in New Orleans, Richmond also established Chicago Public Schools Charter Schools Office where, under his leadership, Chicago was the first urban school district in the nation to release an RFP, requesting educators and community organizations to start charter schools. Richmond launched Chicago’s Renaissance 2010 initiative as the district’s Chief Officer for New Schools Development, under Arne Duncan, then the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools who was later tapped to become the U.S. Secretary of Education.

Private funds will facilitate the RFP process.

Emergency Manager Robert Bobb stated that many community members, education entities, foundations, agencies, school leaders and members of the Detroit Board of Education are involved in plans for Renaissance 2012 roll out.

“We believe this plan has the potential to create high quality schools for Detroit’s children. We are supportive of the partnership with NACSA because we want DPS to have access to the best research and technical assistance available for the best chance at success,” said Skillman Foundation President and CEO Carol Goss.

For additional information about Renaissance 2012, go to www.detroitk12.org/Renaissance2012

About the DPS Renaissance 2012 Plan
DPS Renaissance 2012 is a transformative plan to radically restructure many academically-failing schools and reduce operating costs by seeking local and national groups and charter school operators for 45 of DPS’ 141 schools. The district’s state-mandated Deficit Elimination Plan requires 70 schools to be closed over two years. Instead of closing 45 schools this fall, the district would authorize schools to be converted to charters, allowing many poor-performing schools to undergo an academic transformation and stay open. This plan supports the district’s state-mandated Deficit Elimination Plan by reducing operating costs.

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