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New Detroit schools superintendent could start work as early as this week

Students raise their hands inside a classroom
Jennifer Guerra
Michigan Radio

The new superintendent for the Detroit Public Schools Community District could begin work  as early as Tuesday. Dr. Nikolai Vitti’s five-year contract was approved by the Detroit school boardearlier this month, but the commission that oversees the district’s finances still has to OK the contract. The Detroit Financial Review Commission is expected to vote Monday afternoon. 

If approved, Vitti has his work cut out for him.

The district has one of the worst chronic absenteeism rates in the country, about a quarter of the schools in the district just entered into partnership dealswith the state to forestall possible closure, and, as of July, the district will take over the schools in the Education Achievement Authority, the state’s controversial reform district that's widely considered a failure.

Michigan Radio obtained a copy of Vitti's plans for his first 100 days as superintendent. It reads, in part:

The overall objective of the 100 Plan is to listen, learn, and transform. It provides internal and external stakeholders an opportunity to share their experiences and beliefs on how to support our students. More importantly, the dialogue allows us to develop a synergy of ideas with the goal of collective impact where we mutually own the goal of becoming the best urban school district in the country to better serve our children. The process will culminate to form the foundation of the District’s first Strategic Plan, which will be presented to the School Board for approval.

The plan includes daily visits to the district's most struggling schools, focus groups with students and school staff and a thorough review of the district's finances.  You can read Dr. Vitti's 100 Day Plan here.

Vitti grew up in metro Detroit and has been superintendent of Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Florida since 2012, a district with nearly 130,000 students. There are roughly 47,000 students in Detroit Public Schools Community District.

Jennifer is a reporter for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and was one of the lead reporters on the award-winning education series Rebuilding Detroit Schools. Prior to working at Michigan Radio, Jennifer lived in New York where she was a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in the Bronx.
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