Increased Enrollment In Detroit Schools Just Bureaucratic Reshuffling

Some schools that had been under receivership were returned last fall

For the first time in decades, the Detroit public schools district reported an increase in student enrollment.

The Michigan Department of Education recently released data on the Detroit Public Schools Community District’s enrollment as well as individual schools within it.

An analysis shows the increase is due solely to the return to the district’s control of public schools that in 2012 were detached from it and placed in a form of receivership under a bureau called the Education Achievement Authority. As of last fall, these schools were back under the control of the Detroit school district, and the students attending them are again included in the district’s enrollment figure.

Detroit’s public school district saw its overall enrollment increase from 45,720 in 2016-17 to 50,875 in 2017-18. That's an increase of 5,155 students in this school year, according to information just released by the Michigan Department of Education. The 11 schools from the EAA added 5,227 students.

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Without those schools, Detroit Public Schools Community District would have seen an enrollment decline of 72 students.

When the management of those 11 schools was removed from the school district, they had a combined enrollment of 9,707 students. They returned six years later with 47 percent fewer students.

District officials said in December they estimated that the district would get 4,000 extra students from the EAA.

"For well over a decade, significant enrollment declines for Detroit Public Schools occurred while under state mandated emergency management," a district spokesperson said in an email. "In January 2017, local control was returned to Detroit through a newly elected School Board that later appointed a Superintendent to begin the process of rebuilding a new district and strategic plan. As a result, more families are considering Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) as a viable option. We believe this positive trend of improved enrollment will continue in the future."


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Detroit Prep is a top-rated and economically and racially diverse charter school in the city. It's growth means it needs to move out from a church basement and into a new location. Nearby is a former Detroit Public Schools building, sitting empty for years. But, worried about competition, the public school district refused to sell. For years, district and local government officials in Detroit had worked to block public charter schools. They pushed legislation at the Michigan Capitol to hinder them, refused to sell to them, transferred surplus buildings from the district to the city government and imposed deed restrictions on property sales to private developers. All of it was aimed to hinder or even prevent charter school choice outside the confines of the Detroit school district.

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