DPS issues groundbreaking Request for Proposals, seeking experienced charter operators that have met rigorous standards for student achievement and more for Renaissance 2012 Plan

Detroit Public Schools on Thursday issued a groundbreaking Request for Proposals, seeking experienced charter operators that have demonstrated an ability to meet rigorous standards for student achievement, including a 90 percent graduation rate and 75 percent of students passing reading and math tests, for 45 schools under the district’s ambitious Renaissance 2012 plan.

The DPS Renaissance 2012 transformation plan also includes upcoming board training for community leaders who would serve on the newly-created boards of the 45 schools and who will oversee the operations of the new charter schools.

Successful operator proposers will be expected to turn around existing neighborhood schools and raise academic achievement, as measured by
standardized test scores.

Because DPS intends to launch a portfolio of turnaround charter schools by
fall, DPS Renaissance 2012 will be carried out in two phases to draw experienced and proven operators

Thursday’s initial Request for Proposals represents the first phase of this program, in which schools will be run by charters beginning with the 2011-2012 academic year. In the second phase, details of which will be released at a later date, DPS will seek operators to govern schools beginning with the 2012-2013 academic year.

Qualified candidates for the first phase must have previously operated at least one charter school in Michigan for at least 3.5 years.

The due date for proposals is Monday, May 2 at 5 p.m.

“This Request for Proposals represents a transformative moment for DPS and Detroit,” said Emergency Manager Robert Bobb.

“We are seeking experienced charter operators with extremely high academic standards and proven outcomes, including a 90 percent graduation rate, to help us create a premier urban school system that includes a broad portfolio of successful school options serving the needs of all parents and students,” Bobb said. “All facets of this proposal — from the rigorous academic requirements for operators to the menu of services that we will offer to the qualifications for board candidates — are designed to ensure a quality educational program that raises student achievement for every child in the selected schools.”

In addition to demonstration of at least a 90 percent graduation rate in an operator’s existing school or schools, the district’s rigorous expectations for charter proposers also includes demonstration of:

  • A recognized model for academic quality;
  • At least 75 percent of students demonstrate proficiency on state math exams;
  • At least 75 percent proficiency on state reading exams;
  • Experience in urban educational settings with more than 500 students; and
  • Willingness to hold conversations with the communities surrounding each school.

The charter schools also must provide continuity of appropriate services to special education students and will retain and service special needs children during and after turnaround.

DPS will serve as the charter authorizer for the turnaround schools and will monitor the schools for state and federal compliance, as well as adherence to academic goals and fiscal soundness. The district currently authorizes 9 charters.

All turnaround DPS charter schools must align their curriculum to the Michigan Curriculum Framework, Detroit Public Schools Academic Plan and Common Core State Standards and be appropriate in relation to the school’s educational goals.

Because the district seeks operators who can turn around an existing neighborhood school, the operator must give priority enrollment to students currently enrolled in the school, as well as any students living within the neighborhood boundary throughout the term of the contract. After neighborhood students have been offered enrollment, the charter school may recruit students from outside of the boundary.

The charter school also must provide transportation to students who enroll, live within the neighborhood boundary and live more than ¾ of a mile from the school.

The Request for Proposals is part of the DPS Renaissance 2012 plan, a transformative plan to radically restructure academically failing or low-enrollment schools and reduce operating costs by seeking local and national charter school operators for up to 45 of Detroit Public Schools’ 141 schools. The 45 schools were selected because they were persistently-low performing, had high operations costs, had low enrollment or were good candidates for more autonomy. Eighteen schools have been identified for closure if a charter is not secured, and 27 would remain open if a charter operator is not secured.

An evaluation process established by the district in partnership with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers will vet all responses with final decisions expected in June.

To facilitate community involvement throughout the entire process, school community members and stakeholders will be solicited for input.

DPS also is assembling a pool of candidates for positions on boards of directors for schools to be chartered under the Renaissance 2012 Initiative. This pool of potential directors will receive training in boardsmanship and board responsibilities, including fiduciary responsibilities and the obligations of public office, and it is the intent of the District that this pool will furnish sufficient candidates to fill the boards of directors for academies to be chartered by the district.

As public officials, board members set policy, are responsible for compliance with the charter contract and applicable laws, and help guide the ongoing vitality of the school, its staff and its students. Prior to executing an agreement with an educational service provider, the charter school board must perform sufficient due diligence to establish that the educational service provider has the appropriate financial resources, educational services, and managerial experience to provide the contracted services. DPS is working with the National Charter School Institute for the school board training to occur the last week of April.

To ease a charter operators’ ability to offer high quality services immediately and to support the school’s educational program, DPS will offer a Menu of Services, which the operator can purchase. Those include:

  • Custodial
  • Facilities Maintenance and Grounds
  • Transportation
  • Food Service
  • Pupil Accounting
  • Testing and Evaluation
  • Title I Management
  • Security
  • Parental Involvement

Charter schools will have the opportunity to lease or do lease purchases of the existing DPS buildings.

Both the leases and the Menu of Services will have the added benefit of generating additional revenue for DPS.

Charter school boards are not required to lease a district building as a condition of receiving an award of a charter. However, charter schools must be located within the neighborhood boundary served by the school to be closed.

As part of the overall process, bidders may identify a school or schools toward which they wish to direct their efforts, or they may request to be matched to a school or schools by the District. The operator also may be asked to consider providing services to additional, substitute or alternate schools as identified by the district or be given conditional approval to operate a school in 2012.

The charter from DPS would be for a maximum term of 5 years. The charter would be revocable in accordance with its terms and conditions, as set forth in the attached form of charter.

A bidder’s conference will be held Thursday, April 14, 2011 from 9 to 11 a.m. EST at Renaissance High School, 6565 W. Outer Drive, Detroit. In addition to the pre-bid conference, walk-throughs of the school will be available, by appointment, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. April 18-20.

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. For additional information, go to detroitk12.org/Renaissance2012

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