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Vitti: Detroit's public school system won't have teacher shortage next year

Tracy Samilton
DPSCS Superintendent Nikolai Vitti (seated, third from left) at community dialogue

Nikolai Vitt, the new superintendent of Detroit's public school system, says he expects the district to be fully staffed with teachers at the beginning of the school year in 2018.

This year, the district had to begin classes despite being 250 teachers short. 

Vitti spoke to a capacity crowd at an event in Detroit sponsored by the Citizen's Research Council. 

He says he's starting with a base of loyal long-term teachers who've stuck with DPS even when they had other choices.

"But we're also going to begin recruiting new talent," says Vitti.  "Teachers, develop new principals and even recruit those outside. And talented people create new energy, new expectations.  They create hope, energy and they motivate people who maybe weren't working at the highest level to work harder."

Vitti says he has a reform blueprint that worked in other struggling districts and he will use that blueprint to turn Detroit's schools around. 

He plans to introduce a better curriculum that is culturally relevant to students, along with a universal expectation of excellence at each school, with a focus on preparing students for college or work when they graduate.

Each school will also develop a unique identity to help lure parents back to the district.

Vitti says one of his biggest challenges will be making sure each neighborhood has a quality school in it.  He says short-term financial decisions by emergency managers resulted in school buildings being sold in neighborhoods where they were needed the most.  Now, the district may actually have to buy or build some schools in underserved areas.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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