DPS shifts $300K to tackle school health, safety issues

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Detroit Public Schools is shifting $300,000 within its budget for repairs and maintenance at school buildings, including work addressing health and safety violations found by city inspectors.

Emergency Manager Darnell Earley said in a statement Monday that the district, which is in danger of running out of money this spring, transferred the money from other DPS departments because it has no choice. The district has said it would take $50 million to address its maintenance issues and needed capital improvements.

“Unfortunately, given the dire financial condition of the District, the only way that we can continue to address the current work orders in our system, as well as take the corrective actions required in the inspection reports is to redirect funds from other areas within our current budget because there are no additional funds available,” he said.

The city has inspected 46 of the district’s 97 schools, a process begun last month after reports of health and safety problems in numerous schools, including leaky roofs, mold, rodent infestations and water damage that left some areas of buildings unusable.

The district said redirected funds have been used to fix the steam heat line under Spain Elementary-Middle School, where students have been unable to use the playground. That work was finished Friday, DPS said, and the asphalt over the repaired steam line will be replaced as weather permits in the spring.

Earley said given the district’s financial problems, it has partnered with the Detroit Public Schools Foundation to start a capital improvements fund to accept donations to pay for building maintenance and repairs.

“We are encouraged by the initial outpouring of interest in helping Detroit Public Schools,” said Earley. “It is going to take the efforts from a broad range of partnerships to identify the resources necessary to immediately address the myriad building issues, from the everyday repair to the significant capital expenditures that are required throughout the district’s 97 school buildings.”

A city representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

slewis@detroitnews.com

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