Acting DPS Superintendent Teresa Gueyser talks with board member Reverend David Murray before the plan is presented. (Ricardo Thomas / The Detroit News)
A day after Detroit Public Schools' financial manager outlined steps he would take to fix the troubled system's finances, the school system's acting superintendent unveiled a draft of a sweeping plan on how to improve the district's academics.
The plans includes establishing a ninth-grade intervention program to target students who are off-track for graduation and restoring fine arts, physical education, world languages and other programs that have been cut from the cash-strapped school system, according to a presentation Wednesday at Spain Elementary/Middle School by acting Superintendent Teresa Gueyser.
"If embraced, this plan will not fail," Gueyser told the board.
Presumably, the plan would require the approval of the district's emergency financial manager, Robert Bobb, who took over the system's finances in March and holds the purse strings. However, under a state law used to appoint Bobb, academic authority rests with the school board.
The plans, which answer some concerns outlined in a scathing report by the Washington, D.C.-based Council of the Great City Schools, also call for:
Bobb has already begun to make his own changes in the academic realm.
Just last week, he said 33 principals would lose their jobs and 37 schools will have new leaders in the fall as part of the district's restructuring.
This week, he said he plans to cut more than 900 of the district's 15,000 employees and take other drastic cost-cutting measures to eliminate the system's $306 million deficit.
He also has announced 29 schools would be closed by fall.
During the meeting, parents and students from Western International High School demonstrated to protest the district's decision not to renew the contract of Principal Rebecca Luna.
Lisa Wilson and her son, Nolan, a junior at Western, sat among the other demonstrators waiting to see if they would be able to address the school board and voice their concern for the future of the high school without Luna.
"We need her," said Lisa Wilson. "She's a good principal. She's good with the kids. She encourages them to go on and be successful."