Plan proposes $700M on new Detroit schools, upgrading existing buildings

Detroit Public School community district

DETROIT – The future of dozens of Detroit school buildings will be examined as part of a 20-year improvement and investment plan by the city’s public school district.

A proposed Facility Master Plan was announced Tuesday and includes spending $700 million by 2027 on new schools, revamping existing schools to address overcrowding, upgrading older buildings and demolishing those that can't be saved.

The $700 million would come from $1.3 billion in federal COVID-19 pandemic aid to the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

The district says $2 billion is required to upgrade all buildings to a “good” rating. It plans to seek state funding to address long-term facility needs.

Recommendations will be explained during seven public meetings. Feedback from the meetings will help lead to a final recommendation by June to the Detroit Board of Education on spending the $700 million, the district said, adding that the plan is the next phase of rebuilding the district following about seven years of state oversight.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said Tuesday in a release that the federal pandemic funding allows the district to now substantially invest in school buildings.

“One of the first things I observed during the superintendent interview process in 2017 was the overall low condition of school buildings,” said Vitti, who was appointed that year to lead the district. “Over the last four years, I am proud of the fact that the district experienced facility investments for the first time in over a decade through unspent expenditures, but this was simply putting a band aide on a life-threatening wound.”