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Detroit schools to use COVID aid to fix buildings, boost teacher pay

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Federal COVID aid money going to Detroit public schools will be used to repair aged school buildings, fund programs to combat learning loss due to the pandemic, and increase risk compensation for teachers who work in schools.

Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District, said Wednesday that three buckets of COVID-19 aid money coming into the district from the federal government will total $ 1.2 billion.

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The district is grappling with expensive, growing capital needs in its 100 school buildings that have been largely neglected for nearly a decade as part of government emergency management.

In 2018, Livonia-based OHM consultants estimated that fixing inoperable boilers, corroded plumbing fixtures, missing ceiling tiles in classrooms, exterior walls with cracks, roof leaks, and a host of other issues would cost $ 500 million.

By 2023, the price would rise to $ 1.4 billion, according to a facility estimate by the company.

On Wednesday, during a media outing to discuss a wide range of topics with the media, Vitti said the federal funds are one-time money that will be used to help the district with capital costs and projects.

“I am thrilled to have the funding to finally resolve facility issues and finally create a huge nuisance that will save Detroit taxpayers rebuilding our facilities. It will appeal to the vast majority of them, and we would not have it done. ” could say that or do that without the funding, “he said.

While the district eventually gained authority to issue capital project bonds on a legal settlement over a literacy lawsuit launched by Detroit school children, Vitti said COVID aid funds will enable building repairs as a cost.

DPSCD will focus on newer schools with needs rather than older buildings, Vitti said, as the district has to decide whether to repair or replace older buildings.

Many of the classroom buildings in the Detroit Public Schools borough are decades old and in need of repair or replacement.

DPSCD offers face-to-face and remote-controlled learning during the pandemic and looks after around 12,000 students on site every day.

However, the district has 19,000 students who want to study in person but cannot because not enough teachers have agreed to teach in schools. About 500 are doing right now, Vitti said, but the district needs 1,000 more.

Teachers who work in schools are being paid $ 750 per quarter to pay for hazards during the pandemic. Vitti said federal funds will be used to pay the bonuses, including payments to teachers who wish to return.

“We’re not meeting parenting demand because of a lack of teachers,” he said.

The funds will also be used to promote academics, improve service to students, and encourage participation, Vitti said.

“We will be able to go much deeper with individual children on an academic level, as well as in terms of attendance and engagement,” he said. “We can go deeper on transportation, drive back vans and pick up students who missed the first bus or city bus. Or work with Uber or Lyft to pick up students at home.”

Vitti said his goal is to achieve solid results in his district that come with additional federal support in two to three years.

“In this way we can make it clear to the state that for this reason we always need adequate funding to keep these salaries higher. The work here is more difficult than anywhere else in the country,” he said.

COVID funds are also being used to expand summer school, post-school and break programs. Funding one-on-one literacy interventions and math in small groups; Expansion of psychiatric care for children in school and for families; deep clean schools; Reduce class size and hire more teachers, Vitti said.

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Dusty Kennedy