Sunday, March 13, 2011

Detroit district proposes offering 41 schools to charter operators

Detroit district proposes offering 41 schools to charter operators

(CNN) -- Detroit Public Schools has proposed a plan to offer charter school operators the reins to 41 schools -- including some of the lowest-performing schools academically -- in lieu of forcing school closings.

The Renaissance Plan 2012 would select operators based on a "competitive and rigorous" process to operate the schools as public academies with DPS as their authorizer, Detroit Public Schools announced in a press release Saturday.

"Rather than simply closing schools, this plan seeks to transform DPS ... by recruiting some of the best, proven school operators," Robert C. Bobb, Detroit Public Schools emergency financial manager, said in the statement.

Bobb said the plan would keep students at their current schools while possibly generating $21.85 million in lease revenue.

In the event a school does not receive a qualified proposal, the school will close, and its students will be transferred to nearby DPS schools.

The district's 142 schools are facing a reduced number of principals, shared services and increased class sizes fromthe district's Deficit Elimination Plan. The plan was enacted to combat the school system's debt crisis, which totaled $327 million in February. Under the DEP's standards, Bobb says a viable education system will not be met.

Bobb, who was named emergency financial manager of DPS in 2009, is not allowed to declare bankruptcy for the school system before his tenure ends on June 30, Bobb spokesman Steve Wasko said. Bobb has said the system will not file for bankruptcy.

The list of 41 schools is expected to be released later this week.