Plan to spend $700 million renovating, building schools approved in Detroit

Detroit schools will spend $700 million in federal COVID funds on repairing aging school facilities and building new schools, an effort that aims to chip away at $2.1 billion in infrastructure needs at Michigan’s largest school district.

Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District, said the funds will allow the district to build five new schools that will replace existing buildings that require excessive repairs; construct additions at five buildings to address overcrowding or boost enrollment; and renovate 64 buildings with a focus on roofing, exterior enclosures, heating and cooling and lighting.

The plan, approved by the Board of Education on Tuesday, also pays for phasing out four buildings that have extensive repair needs and demolishing 12 buildings including schools slated for phase-out and vacant buildings on school campuses.

Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.

The district once boasted more than 250,000 students and 200 school buildings. It now educates about 50,000 students in preschool through 12th grade and operates around 107 buildings.

The district has struggled with expensive, growing capital needs across its school buildings, which were largely neglected for nearly a decade under state-run emergency management, which ended in 2016.

Vitti said the infrastructure investment is the largest since he became superintendent in 2017. 

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