Detroit schools superintendent addresses skepticism of $700M plan to update schools

Money would be spent on new Detroit schools, upgrading existing buildings

The Detroit Public Schools Community District rolled out a plan to pour $700 million into improving facilities over the next two decades. It’s something the district says is badly needed after years of funding cuts. The money would go toward constructing new school buildings, bringing back pre-K to the district and phasing out smaller elementary schools.

DETROIT – The Detroit Public Schools Community District rolled out a plan to pour $700 million into improving facilities over the next two decades.

It’s something the district says is badly needed after years of funding cuts. The money would go toward constructing new school buildings, bringing back pre-K to the district and phasing out smaller elementary schools.

“I vividly remember being in buildings and saying to myself, ‘It is just an injustice that children go to school in a building like this.’ We just didn’t have the dollars to repair them,” Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti said.

The plan would create 700 pre-K spots, revitalize anchor high schools, reduce overcrowding and increase enrollment. But a retired Detroit teacher is skeptical.

“If the money is truly going toward the students, that’s fine. But, you know, my experience has been there’s a lot of waste. Their history is not good,” retired Detroit teacher Lorenzo Browner said. “I’m a teacher and I’ve seen it over the years where schools get lump sum of money and none of that is filtered into the classrooms. They’ll put a big show for their tax paying citizens, but when it comes down to it’s never really into the classroom where the meaningful difference is made.”

The plan breaks down like this:

  • $281 million in new school buildings
  • $35 million to reactivate buildings for pre-K
  • $269 million to renovate school buildings

“I think that’s honest and I think that sentiment exists because of examples of corruption in the past with city government, even in the school district,” Vitti said. “I think the criticism and the skepticism is completely legitimate. But if you look at what we’ve done over the past couple years, we’re moving in a much better direction.”

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


About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.