Detroit Public Schools Community District is eyeing staffing cuts as COVID funding comes to an end

Listening session will be held instead of a board meeting on Thursday April 27

From the looks of it, the windfall from all of that COVID funding has ended at Detroit schools.

Now, the district is eyeing staffing cuts, and the plan isn’t going over well.

Local 4 has spent the day working on getting answers, and even by Detroit Public Schools Community District, Tuesday (April 18) night’s board meeting was a marathon.

It lasted over five hours, and the proposed cuts Dr. Nikolai Vitti proposed for the 2023-2024 school budget came under fire, and the meeting settled next to nothing.

More than a billion federal COVID dollars covered DPSCD’s funding shortfalls for the past three school years.

We’re now in the post-COVID hangover, and reality is forcing unpleasant and certainly unpopular cuts.

The first problem is that Viti is projecting 2,000 fewer students in the coming year than pre-COVID levels, and then persistent inflation makes everything school-related more costly.

Viti told the board Tuesday night he and they have to choose: Either cut staff or leave low wages where they are. They can’t do both.

So, back in February, Viti told the board about his need to cut about 100 positions. Teaching assistants like kindergarten paraprofessionals, attendance agents, college transition advisors, and school culture facilitators.

DPSCD Board Member Sherry Gay-Dagnogo was furious.

“We need the para pros, the dean of culture that exists that have helped to manage many of the functions of our district to serve as mentors in some communities to be leadership, and ironically so many of the dean of students are Black males,” said Gay-Dagnogo.

More troubling to her is the district is apparently already moving on some of those positions without a budget vote.

“So for anyone to get a layoff notice and or the superintendent to proceed with buyout packages that would allow separation from the district that would adversely impact our schools,” Gay-Dagnogo said. “Adversly affect learning, adversely impact the instep testing is wrong.”

A listening session will be held instead of a board meeting on Thursday (April 27).

About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.