Dear Team Life Remodeled,
Last week local news outlets presented the most recent list of potential school closures, developed by the State School Reform/Redesign Office (SSRO). Osborn and Denby High Schools, where Life Remodeled partners and donors made tremendous investment in the last two years, are on the list.
Durfee Elementary-Middle School and Central High School, the focus of our new two-year effort, also are listed. But they are merging into one new school next year and will be removed from the SSRO’s list.
These developments have raised concern from some of you.
Let me provide some background and perspective. According to the SSRO, “Each year, schools in the bottom 5 percent of all public schools in Michigan are identified as Priority Schools and monitored for turnaround in subsequent years. State law requires that schools identified in the bottom 5 percent write plans and receive support services.”
It is no surprise that schools in Michigan’s poorest zip codes often rank among the lowest in statewide rankings. Sadly, more than 100 Detroit schools have been shut down since 2005.
Of the SSRO’s current list of 38 schools that may be forced to close, 63 percent are in the City of Detroit, and 33 percent of those were operated by a targeted, comprehensive state program called the Educational Achievement Authority (EAA), including Denby and Central High Schools. Additionally, from 2009 to 2016, the State of Michigan appointed Emergency Managers with governing authority over the entire Detroit Public Schools district. However, the most significant problems plaguing the system increased substantially during those seven years.
Life Remodeled has spent much time speaking with our school district, city officials and invested stakeholders. Collectively, we are committed to give the children of these schools the opportunities they deserve.
While the threat is real, there is much to celebrate. Many gains have occurred over the last four months, including the creation of the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD). The schools again are governed by a locally elected school board, and the district has received state funding allowing a debt-free restart.
I am personally excited about the potential to turn things around. The DPSCD is working on an innovative plan to keep Osborn and Denby open, and I am hopeful the state will accept it.
Life Remodeled and its partners are committed to help provide Durfee and Central students unique educational opportunities and an environment over which we believe the state will eventually marvel. We signed a $1-a-year lease on Durfee’s building (pictured here) and will begin construction this July to build a “Community Innovation Center.” Among other programs, the innovation center will focus on entrepreneurism, equipping new businesses to launch, thrive and help sustain the local economy. Additionally, partners will train Central and Durfee students in real-world educational experiences leading to new career pathways, which we believe will produce groundbreaking results.
Thank YOU for exercising your passion for the children of Detroit by donating to and volunteering with Life Remodeled. With your help, we will continue to esteem and nurture the kids of Cody, Osborn, Denby, Durfee and Central (and those in many more neighborhoods to come) as if they were our own.
Honored to partner with you for a better Detroit!
Chris Lambert |CEO|