16 schools reopen for summer as recreation centers

Jo Kroeker
The Detroit News

Detroit children age 6 to 17 will have free weekday access to 16 Detroit public schools as “Summer Fun Centers” for five weeks starting Monday.

The program, announced Thursday at a news conference, is in addition to the 11 full-time recreation centers already in operation, for which yearly membership costs $5. Those centers filled a recreation gap that funding cuts caused from 2006-13.

Students on the School Lunch Program during the school year will be eligible for two meals a day at the centers.

Rather than pouring $100 million to $200 million into derelict recreation centers, Mayor Mike Duggan said, the city of Detroit agreed to reimburse the Detroit Public Schools Community District for opening the schools 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday starting Monday until Aug.11, a project that will cost $625,000, or $40,000 per location.

“We had a recreation desert here in District 4,” Detroit city councilman Andre Spivey said. “We are the only district without a recreation center, and Monday that will change.”

The city has hired 190 play leaders and supervisory staff to oversee the various activities available, like swimming, basketball, and arts and crafts.

For Detroit Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, this initiative just makes sense.

In the past, he said, the focus at the district level has been liquidating assets and crisis management, not visionary work surrounding what’s best for children, teachers and principals. Now, he said, the days of creating territorial lines between the city and the school district are over.

What’s different, he said, is a reorganized operation at the district level that is less bureaucratic.

Speakers focused on the centers’ ability to get children off the streets and into a positive summer program.

“Too many times, kids, if you don’t give them something positive to do, they’ll find something negative to do,” said Keith Flournoy, interim director of the Detroit Parks and Recreation Department. “This is an opportunity to provide kids with something positive.”

Program at a glance

Where: Look for Summer Fun Center banners in front of these schools:

■Brenda Scott Academy

■Hutchinson Elementary-Middle School

■John R. King Academic & Performing Arts

■Western International High School

■East English Village High School

■Cooke Elementary School

■Mackenzie Elementary-Middle School

■Carver STEM Academy

■Henry Ford High School

■Gompers Elementary-Middle School

■Pasteur Elementary

■Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy

■Cody High School Building

■Gardner Elementary School

■Carstens Elementary School

■Munger Elementary Middle School

When: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, July 10-Aug. 11

To register: Parents must register their children online at www.detroitmi.gov/recreation or in person at any of the 16 locations.