Emergency Manager meets with Mayor Duggan to discuss school building inspections and how City Departments can assist in efforts
Detroit Public Schools is actively working to address the building maintenance issues that have been cited in the inspection reports received to-date from the City of Detroit, as well as those concerns that have been submitted through its internal work order system by individual schools with its available resources.
In the interest of transparency and wanting employees and the public to view its progress on repairs moving forward, the District is creating a new page on its website where a weekly update on the corrective actions taken on the violations at inspected schools will be posted at the end of each week. Also included on the webpage will be information on the District’s internal work order system, “School Dude,” and the proper procedure to report maintenance and other building related-work requests.
Life and safety matters are the District’s priority and we will work to address those issues immediately. For example, water damaged ceiling tiles have been replaced at AL Holmes, Ben Carson and J.E. Clark, the fire alarm pull station and windows broken due to vandalism have been replaced at Osborn High School, peeling paint has been addressed at Spain and at Ron Brown Academy, the District has removed stored items in corridors and on stairs.
It is, however, important to note that in a majority of cases, the corrective actions requested in the inspection reports are those that can and/or are already being addressed. For example, the District employs an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to prevent and managing pests in schools and works with a licensed extermination company that inspects schools on a monthly basis, and which is dispatched when concerns are brought forth by the schools. In fact, the mouse that has been widely reported at Spain Elementary had actually been caught in a trap that had been placed by the exterminator. Inspection reports are to be logged in the IPM manual maintained in the main office at every school. Monthly inspection reports are also retained here for viewing.
It is critical that school personnel follow stated guidelines for the proper disposal of trash and food waste to help guard against reoccurrence. To further assist in addressing this issue districtwide, classroom teachers will be instructed to immediately remove personal appliances such as toaster ovens, microwaves and mini-refrigerators from their rooms.
Additionally, the District is in the process of purchasing bulk quantities of materials such as ceiling and floor tiles to make replacements as a part of routine maintenance. Cody High School is one example of a priority location for receiving the ceiling tile replacements.
There are, however, a number of violations cited in the inspection reports that are more extensive and costly such as roof replacements, that District will not be able to make without the investment that Gov. Snyder is requesting be made by the Michigan Legislature in a new Detroit Public School district. For example, it would cost $2.7 million to replace the roofs at Dossin, Vernor and Spain Elementary Schools (Spain also needs the majority of its doors and windows replaced, which would bring the total cost up to $5.4 million for this building alone; a complete refurbishing of the school’s gymnasium and pool would add another $300,000 to that tally).
“DPS appreciates the city of Detroit for working in partnership with the District to create a clean and safe working and learning environment for its students and staff,” said Emergency Manager Darnell Earley. “Since inspections began, the District has cooperated fully with the City and its inspectors and will continue to do so moving forward. In fact, I have directed the District’s Acting Executive Director of Operations to meet on a weekly basis with the leadership of those City departments who are tasked with inspecting our schools.”
Earley continued, “I also met this morning with Mayor Mike Duggan to not only provide an update on the District’s short-term plan for addressing the inspection violations, but also to seek the City’s partnership in immediately abating blight by addressing overgrown lots next to our schools and by boarding up or tearing down abandoned structures and clearing illegal dumping from vacant lots near schools, which when left unchecked can not only contribute to rodent and insect issues within our buildings, but also present safety concerns for our students as they walk to and from school.”
Additionally, as previously stated, the District will be working with the State’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to develop a plan to address the inspection violations that assures that we are following health and safety guidelines and remediating all issues of concern within our available resources.
From a long-term perspective, the District is taking two important steps. First, it is working on an RFP for the development of a Facilities Master Plan that is expected to be released by the end of February. The plan would detail the conditions of the District’s current school buildings and identify where all capital investments must be made. This plan will assist the District in its future school portfolio planning.
Second, it is partnering with the Detroit Public Schools Foundation to launch a new fund where any individual, group, nonprofit, and business and/or corporation can make a donation that will be used specifically to address the District’s broad range of facility maintenance and repair issues. More details about this will be announced within the next week.
“The District is committed to making the necessary repairs to its buildings in order to provide our students with an environment conducive to academic achievement,” said Earley. “Unfortunately, given that it would cost upwards of $50 million to address all of the immediate maintenance and capital issues that exist, and considering the District’s crippling debt, which takes approximately $1,200 of each student’s per pupil funding, there are serious limitations to what can be accomplished without a legislative solution. We will, however, continue implementing our long and short-term plans already in place to address these issues.”