DETROIT – It’s a little earlier start to the school year for the state’s largest school district, but Detroit schools will start the year fully staffed for the first time in a long time.
Teachers reported Monday with students to start the following Monday, and, for the first time in two years, COVID-19 will not take up all the preparations and planning. In a time when staffing is a problem across the country, the Detroit Public School Community District is returning to school fully staffed.
“This has been a five-year process, and that started with increasing teacher salaries,” said Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti.
The district increased salaries across the board and added a competitive benefits package and the highest starting pay in Metro Detroit, and it was able to attract staff.
In addition, using some of those COVID relief dollars, the district hired 170 new teachers last year, knowing that 50% of its staff is eligible to retire in the next three years.
Parents say their children are ready to return to the classroom.
“It definitely does help to know schools are fully staffed,” said parent Stephanie Vanpelt. “Without teachers, how can you educate the children?”
Vanpelt has four children, ages five through 13 going to school this year after navigating two years of COVID with closures and changing protocols.
Vitti agrees that the district can stop worrying about treading water and get back to working on student achievement.
“We are very excited about going into this year, and we’re not going to manage COVID like we have the last two years,” Vitti said.
Vaccines and masks are not mandatory.
In addition, the district is starting before Labor Day, which will get them out earlier at the end of the school year.
Vitti said that the return extends the runway to onboard the students and get everybody where they need to be before count day, allowing them to end the school year in early June versus the end of June.