DPS shows rapid progress with Renaissance 2012, filling to capacity its first board leadership training, conducting 67 charter operator site visits and more

The progress demonstrates DPS’ commitment to accountability as it works with nationally-recognized groups to convert up to 45 schools to district-authorized charters

As three major signs of progress on Detroit Public Schools’ Renaissance 2012 plan, the district has filled its first board training workshops to capacity, generated enough interest to nearly fill a second and is scheduling a third, held a bidder conference drawing more than 70 organizations and today concludes the first of 67 walk-throughs for nine charter operators interested in transforming district schools into charters.

In just three days since a leadership training date was announced, Detroit Public Schools has drawn nearly 100 people interested in being trained to serve on school boards for the charter schools the district will authorize as part of its Renaissance2012 initiative, a transformative plan to engage experienced charter school operators for up to 45 schools.

The initial training for 50 people, set for Saturday April 30 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., is full, and enough interest has been generated to fill a second workshop, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 20 at the DPS Welcome Center, Conference Room A, 3031 W. Grand Blvd. The district is calling interested parties to secure their place in that newly-announced workshop. DPS also soon will announce an additional date. Training will be provided by the National Charter Schools Institute.

The district, which is working with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers on a Request for Proposals and startup process for the Renaissance 2012 plan, today will complete the first round of 67 site visits for nine charter operators with 45 combined years of experience to tour schools that are candidates for transformation. DPS drew more than 90 participants from 70 organizations to a bidder conference last week.

The district has received 23 Letters of Intent from organizations interested in 64 schools, including duplicates, in either 2011 or 2012, demonstrating serious interest in the plan even though the Letters of Intent are not specifically required.

“As we continue our work with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the National Charter School Institute to establish a quality transformation program that stresses accountability at every turn, we are pleased with the widespread interest for the charter school board training sessions, the range of participant at our bidder conference and the broad experience of operators who are touring our schools,” said Emergency Manager Robert Bobb. “Along with the nationally-recognized partners we have engaged, we have laid the foundation for a process to create a portfolio of outstanding schools.”

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. DPS will serve as the authorizer of the charter schools beginning in fall 2011.

“Across the country, charter schools provide an opportunity for parents, educators and the community to become strongly engaged in their schools,” said NACSA President and CEO Greg Richmond. “That’s what we’re now seeing in Detroit. This is fantastic progress in just a few short weeks. Our commitment, though, is not only better engagement; it’s better schools for children. DPS has demonstrated a strong commitment to quality throughout this first phase.”

Because time is limited, DPS and NACSA established high standards for organizations applying to start a school this fall. Only proposals from successful charter school networks that already operate at least one school in Michigan for at least 3.5 years will be fully considered this year. Other applicants will be asked to apply to start a school in the fall of 2012.

DPS is seeking operators that meet the following criteria:

  • Demonstrate 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;
  • Have a recognized model for academic quality;
  • Have at least 75 percent of students demonstrate proficiency on state math exams;
  • Have at least 75 percent proficiency on state reading exams;
  • Have experience in urban educational settings with more than 500 students;
  • Have a willingness to hold conversations with the communities surrounding each school.

DPS and NACSA soon will evaluate applications for new charter schools that wish to open this fall and will make recommendations to the Emergency Manager on those applications by early June. The district and 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.

The National Charter Schools Institute will provide an additional governance and leadership training date for those who seek to be board members for one or more of the 45 Renaissance schools selected for possible transformation. Up to 225 board members are being sought.

Training will include:

  • Roles and Responsibilities of a Charter School Board
  • Mission Development and Assessment
  • Educational Outcomes
  • Board’s Role in Interpreting the Data
  • Fiscal Stewardship and Fiduciary Responsibilities of the Board
  • Avoiding Conflicts of Interest
  • Legal Responsibilities
  • Effective Board Meetings
  • Board Planning

For additional information about Renaissance 2012, go to 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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