Maintenance issues are finally being addressed in Detroit’s school district, including those that were cited in recent building inspections and a teachers union lawsuit, city officials have announced. Water-damaged ceilings, vandalized windows, and peeling paint have already begun to be repaired. Work progress can be followed on Detroit Public Schools’ new page on the district’s website where there will be a weekly update on completed repairs.
Darnell Earley, the state-appointed emergency manager, said the district and the city are working in partnership.
“Since inspections began, the district has cooperated fully with the city and its inspectors and will continue to do so moving forward,” Earley said in a statement.
The emergency manager met with Mayor Mike Duggan on Monday to discuss the progress. The Detroit Federation of Teachers union, in their lawsuit, charged that the buildings must be repaired and added that they wanted Earley removed from his position – and now Earley has resigned.
The district has an internal work-order system called “School Dude” which is on the DPS website and explains how to report maintenance and other physical plant work requests.
On Monday, Earley announced that the district is forming a master plan for facilities to direct future investments. DPS is joining with the Detroit Public Schools Foundation to initiate a new fund to which anyone can donate to address building needs.
Detroit teachers have staged “rolling sick-outs” forcing dozens of schools to close on alternating days. The disruptions came about because of complaints about poor wages, overrun classrooms, dangerous buildings, mold, and even rodent invasions.
On Tuesday, Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Darnell Earley announced that he will resign his position on February 26, reports WDIV Detroit.
For over a decade, DPS has been plagued by massive deficits mainly caused by middle-class flight and the subsequent decrease in school revenues. Kristina Rizga, writing for Mother Jones, said the schools have declined because per-pupil funding follows the students who leave.
William Weir, a long-time social studies teacher, says Earley did not show up at meetings with teachers before the sick-outs were enacted. In fact, he reports, none of the emergency managers he’s worked under made genuine efforts to engage with teachers.
In an opinion piece on MLive Media Group, Eli Savit writes that not every district in the state receives the same per-pupil allowance. But to allow for at least a tiny amount of funding equality, each region receives an allowance that falls within a statutorily defined range.
Savit continues that the state funds do not pay for building, improving, or maintaining school facilities. For these necessary activities, school districts have to depend on local property taxes. Using tax money means that wealthy districts are far more likely to have funding for school maintenance than poorer districts’ where students must attend schools that are dangerous and ramshackle.
Business Insider’s Abby Jackson reports of additional problems with school facilities that precipitated the sick-out campaigns. The suit alleged that almost every district school had issues such as black mold, exposed wiring, falling debris, freezing temperatures, and environments that could lead to tripping or falling.