Here’s some good news about Detroit Public Schools.
Just one week before the start of the new school year on September 6, 91% of all the district’s school buildings are in full compliance with Detroit health and safety codes. Last year not a single DPS building could say that. Today, all but eight of the 94 school buildings are in compliance.
Those schools will be brought up to code this fall following extensive roof and other repairs.
It’s been a tough and somewhat expensive road. Over the past eight months, the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) has worked closely with City of Detroit health and safety inspectors to bring its schools up to code and has spent $2.5 million on repairs so far.
“Parents should be able to send their children to school without worrying that their health and safety could be at risk. Detroit’s families deserve no less,” Mayor Mike Duggan says. “I’d like to thank the leadership and facilities staff at DPSCD for making these repairs their highest priority over the past eight months and we will continue to work together to ensure our school buildings are up to code.”
The eight schools that still need work are:
- Breithaupt Career and Technical
- Cody Schools
- Detroit International Academy for Women
- Emerson Elementary-Middle School
- Mann Learning Community
- Sampson Webber
- Turning Point Academy
- Vernor Elementary
Since January, the City of Detroit’s Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department (BSEED) and the Health Department have conducted more than 400 inspections at DPSCD buildings.
“During a very financially challenging time, our employees met the challenges of tackling critical building repairs,” says DPS Transition Manager Judge Steven Rhodes. “The work is not yet done, because we have some major roofing work and other costly repairs left to complete. However, district leadership is committed to finding the financial resources necessary to accomplish this work.”
He points out that, along with the City of Detroit, a many donors and volunteers stepped up to help.
“We will continue to engage the community and seek opportunities to enlist help as all of our buildings require on-going maintenance,” he says.
Upgrading the schools was not the only work done. This summer, water at all DPS schools was tested for lead, thanks to a donation from the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation. Those tests showed that all but 21 schools tested below the EPA threshold for the presence of lead in water.
At schools where lead levels were elevated, DPS staff worked with the Detroit Health Department to identify ways to lower the lead levels below EPA standards, including:
- Regularly flushing the pipes (running the water) after weekends and school breaks
- Isolating/removing water outlets with elevated levels
- Developing a plumbing profile of the school (marking where samples were taken on a floor plan of the school) to identify places where pipes within the building may need replacing
- Retesting the water after making corrections
Each of the schools submitted a remediation plan to the health department to ensure that lead levels remain safe.
The City of Detroit and the Detroit Public Schools want to be sure compliance is sustainable. So, Detroit health and safety inspectors will continue to inspect school buildings annually to ensure the buildings are kept up to code. School management will be made aware of any violations and given time to address the issue. Once any issues have been resolved, the city will issue a Certificate of Compliance good for another year.
Parents and educators are still encouraged to report any outstanding building concerns through the city’s website and the appropriate department will follow up with an inspection.
All building and health inspection reports and certificates of compliance (when applicable) for each DPSCD school are posted on the City of Detroit website at www.detroitmi.gov.