Aug 26, 2022 - News

Increased salaries keeps DPSCD fully staffed

Illustration of a very large pencil filling out a check.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

As teacher shortages challenge classrooms nationwide, Detroit Public Schools Community District — Michigan's largest public school district — is fully staffed.

What's happening: The teacher shortage — driven by burnout, low pay and ever-increasing pandemic demands — is a slow-motion crisis happening almost everywhere except Detroit.

  • DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says dramatic increases to teacher salaries solved their struggles with staff shortages.

What they're saying: "DPSCD has been chipping away at its historic teacher vacancy problem since the school board and I started our reform commitment five years ago," Vitti tells Axios.

  • Vitti credits the shift to strategies like allowing principals to recruit staff, improvements to the overall working environment of teachers through stronger curriculum materials, more support in classrooms and enhanced technology.

Details: When kids return on Monday for the first day of the new school year, they will be expected to follow much different COVID-19 safety guidelines than years past.

  • The district is not tracing close contacts, mandating masks or implementing COVID testing, as those measures are no longer required by the federal, state or local health departments.
  • Nurses with access to rapid COVID tests will be placed at each school in case an employee or student is symptomatic.

Context: The district is starting the school year early to allow more time for students to enroll before the state count window, and to ensure the school year ends earlier on June 9.

Yes, but: Teacher shortages are affecting both rural and urban areas across Michigan, the Detroit News reports.

  • Flint Community Schools started school this month with vacancies for 20 teachers and 20 support staff, according to the News.
  • The state is 455 bus drivers short ahead of the first week for many districts, Katrina Morris, executive director for the Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation, tells Axios.
  • "That's over 18,000 kids," Morris says. "How are they going to get to school?"
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