Major power outage closes dozens of Detroit schools

Students sent home early; no word on restoration time

By Roger Weber - Reporter

DETROIT - More than two dozen Detroit Public Schools were shut down Tuesday because of what the district said was a major outage of electrical service.

The district blamed four failed Detroit public lighting substations.

"We were in class and the lights just shut down," said fourth-grader Deanta Nobles.

Students were let go from classes early at 31 schools, which included three Education Achievement Authority schools. Some traffic lights were also knocked out.

Interim Public Lighting Director Beau Taylor said the problem is an underground cable.

"We have cables that are sometimes 70 years old, and these cables, unfortunately, are not reliable. In addition to that, we experience a high level of copper theft," Taylor told Local 4.

Taylor believes reliability will improve when PLD begins a closer working relationship with Detroit Edison, beginning this summer.

He hopes the current problems will be repaired in time for school on Wednesday.

Check: School closings

The district says 160 school days have been lost due to power issues, four times as many as last school year.  Officials are also concerned that tomorrow's Count Day could be affected if electricity is not restored.  State funding to school districts rises or falls depending on student enrollment.

Antoinette Gaines went to Vernor elementary to pick up her two children.

"They've already had a lot of breaks, and then when school closes for no reason, I just don't understand it. We need to educate our kids," Gaines said.

Statement from Detroit Public Schools district:

We are gravely concerned about today's electrical outages caused by power failures of the Detroit Public Lighting District and the ongoing power issues that have caused many lost school days for our students.

Educating children and raising achievement is our number one priority, and these power issues present unnecessary barriers.  Our leadership today reached out to City and State leaders to express our concerns and seek expedited and bolder solutions, particularly because tomorrow is the state's Pupil Membership Count Day, which could impact our state funding.

We have experienced, with today's outage included, more than 160 days of missed school in the first six months of the year because of PLD power issues. This is three times the number of missed days during all of last year.

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