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Detroit public schools anticipate layoffs before next school year, as COVID relief aid is set to expire

Mercedes Mejia
Michigan Radio

Detroit public schools will lay off some staff before the next academic year. The school district said this is because their COVID relief aid is set to expire soon.

The funding was supporting students and staff during the pandemic. Aid went toward resources like mental health counseling and after-school and summer programming for students.

Nikolai Vitti, the superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District, said the short-term federal funding enabled the district to fill in deficits.

He emphasized, however, that expected state funding alone will not be enough to counteract dips in student enrollment and the effects of inflation.

Vitti said the layoffs will primarily affect central office administrators and temporary employees.

Some of those staff members were hired for COVID-specific initiatives, such as nurses who administered free coronavirus tests during the pandemic.

"The day-to-day learning and teaching experience of teachers and students will not change," said Vitti. "And that's intentional, because the core of what we do happens in the classroom. And the core of what we do is about raising student achievement."

Despite the anticipated layoffs, Vitti said he wants to retain as many employees as possible given their expertise and existing relationships with students.

He said the district hopes to accomplish this by preparing affected staff members far in advance of the changes.

"What we're doing right now is working with individual employees whose positions would be eliminated to try to go into these other roles that have been hard to staff like cafeteria [substitute] positions and even academic interventionist [roles]," said Vitti.

The superintendent said he hopes that in the future, state funding will be more equitable to better serve the student population at Detroit public schools.

Priya Vijayakumar started her Newsroom Internship in January 2023. She is interested in science/health reporting and making the facts more accessible to all!
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