Detroit Public Schools launches Universal Pre-Kindergarten initiative


Addition of new preschool classrooms, as well as announcement of art and music expansion plans and new parenting programs, mark the first initiatives launched as part of the district’s ambitious five-year Strategic Plan

Among the first initiatives to be implemented from the district’s 2013-17 strategic plan, “Neighborhood-Centered, Quality Schools,” Detroit Public Schools today announced a broad strategy to vastly increase preschool offerings for eligible students, expand art and music offerings in all schools and create new parenting programs to increase parent engagement.

The DPS Universal Pre-K Program will add 25 new early learning classrooms to 14 sites geographically spread across the city, including 12 classrooms in five new DPS Early Learning Neighborhood Centers. In total, DPS will operate 215 Pre-K classrooms at 70 schools with a capacity for 3,530 young learners.

The plan also includes moving an additional 21 Pre-K classrooms into DPS schools to create a more seamless transition to DPS kindergarten. The programs were operated by DPS within district-authorized charter schools, Educational Achievement Authority schools, or buildings that are closing during the 2012-2013 school year.

“DPS’ Universal Pre-K Plan is designed to invest early in our children through expanded preschool programs for all eligible four-year-olds because study after study has found that quality early childhood education pays dividends with improved academic success and graduation rates,” said Emergency Manager Roy S. Roberts.

“Quality Pre-K programs help children learn to read before 3rd grade, which is a critical achievement. We know that students who can read by 3rd grade will stay engaged in school and graduate at much higher rates,” said Karen Ridgeway, Superintendent of Academics for Detroit Public Schools.

In tandem with the announcement, DPS officials unveiled plans to aggressively retain children from the district’s Pre-K programs in its general academic programs, which will aid the district in enrollment stabilization and set the foundation for students to be better-prepared to enter kindergarten. Currently, the district loses about a third of Pre-K students before first grade and half of preschool students by third grade.

In addition to the 46 new preschool classrooms, the retention plan includes:

· New monthly Pre-K-to-Kindergarten transition programs during the school year
· One-on-one satisfaction surveys with parents
· Individualized Pre-K-to-kindergarten counseling for families
· First-ever pre-kindergarten enrichment programs this summer, including weekly educational/experiential field trips and other programs, during the district’s Summer Academy.

These new moves support the district’s strategy to provide more Pre-K programs and to find innovative methods of attracting new students.

New Preschool classrooms will be located at the following sites:

· Academy of the Americas

· Ann Arbor Trail

· Beard Early Childhood

· Bennett Elementary

· Brewer Elementary-Middle School

· Burton International Academy

· Carleton Elementary School

· Clemente, Roberto Academy

· Detroit International Academy for Young Women

· Douglass Academy for Young Men

· Durfee Elementary-Middle School

· Earhart Elementary-Middle School

· Emerson Elementary-Middle School

· Edison Elementary School

· Fleming Pre-K

· Golightly Education Center

· Maybury Elementary School

· Palmer Park Preparatory Academy

· Pulaski Elementary-Middle School

· Robeson, Paul-Malcolm X Academy (at Hally)

· Vernor Elementary School

· Wayne Elementary School

· Young, Coleman A. Elementary

· Adult Education Center – East

· Adult Education Center – West

The district is also creating five new Early Learning Neighborhood Centers at Beard, Emerson, Fleming, Golightly Education Center and Palmer Park Preparatory Academy.

In keeping with the district’s strategic plan, officials on Tuesday also announced plans to add new music and art enrichment programs throughout DPS beginning in the Fall of 2014.

A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) was released on June 24 using the District’s Strategic Sourcing process, with responses due July 23. The strategic plan calls for an art/music enrichment program for every elementary school student, partnering with individuals and agencies with a proven track record in Detroit.

Also initiated under the strategic plan, the district unveiled plans for a new Parent University and Parenting Home Visits that are part of the district’s extensive parent engagement initiatives. Parent University will feature a professional development curriculum tailored for parents, internships, and the formation of a collaborative of support organizations for parents of students from Head Start to college. The Home-School Visitation program will strengthen the relationship between teachers and parents for improved academic and behavioral outcomes. These programs are modeled in Boston and California, respectively.

Additional initiatives from the community-driven Detroit Public Schools strategic plan, which will be ready for this new school year starting September 3, include; Career Academies offering diploma, certification, associate degree and apprenticeships upon completion; Community Schools models; Safety enhancements; Customer Service programs and training; and new Attendance and Code of Conduct policies.

About DPS Early Childhood Programs:

DPS Early Childhood Programs are comprised of:
· Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP): Selection is based on risk factors which include income guidelines.
· Project Head Start: Selection is based on risk factors and income.
· Title I classrooms: Selection is based on the needs of the school community.

Parents can apply at their local DPS School. Requirements for enrollment: child’s birth certificate, immunization record, and proof of income. Students must be 4 years of age by
November 1. For more information, call (313) 347-8923.


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