The Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) needs to cut costs as the district’s budget shrinks and will eliminate some positions next fall now that the district is no longer receiving pandemic relief dollars. As many as 300 positions could be affected, though the number of people who lose their jobs could be much less. Some paraeducators, college transition advisors and culture facilitators have already received layoff notices for the fall

DPSCD spokesperson Chrystal Wilson told Outlier these people have the option to move into alternative positions at equal or higher pay. 

The end of pandemic relief funds and student enrollment declines mean less revenue for the district. Costs for healthcare, gas, custodians and bus drivers have increased but for the last three years those increases were offset by additional pandemic relief funding, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said at Wednesday’s meeting to discuss next year’s budget.

The meeting was held to discuss a single budget proposal for staffing cuts. The board is scheduled to hold a public hearing and then vote in June on the complete DPSCD budget for next year.

Board members eventually approved Vitti’s recommendation to relocate staff members to different positions across the district for similar pay in order to keep as many employed as possible. Vitti said that after approval, affected staff members will receive updated layoff letters that their positions won’t be funded next year and given an opportunity to discuss other options.

Buyout offers were sent to about 50 school administrators. Central office administrators and other school administrators without teaching certifications — or who have a certification but are not willing to teach — may be laid off without an alternative option to stay employed in the district.

College transition advisors may become academic interventionists, or could follow the district’s pathway counselor plan to become a counselor. People working as school culture facilitators could fill security guard roles or, along with kindergarten paraeducators could instead be employed as cafeteria workers, paraprofessionals or substitutes.

Some of these people voiced their frustration during the meeting’s public comment section. One culture facilitator, Daniel Butts, told the board he values his position and doesn’t want to become a security guard. 

“I want you all to rethink about culture facilitators,” Butts said. “I’m the person that stands out outside at dismissal, waiting for late students to be picked up, and they feel safe to be with me.”

Vitti said he still hopes to raise teacher salaries next year, but the district does have a budget gap right now.

“Although we are anticipating a $50 million increase in state and federal revenue, there’s still a gap of about $37 million that we need to fill going into next year,” he said.

Detroit Documenters Bridget Scallen and Byron Keys contributed reporting. For more on the May 3 Detroit Public Schools Community District board study session, see the Documenters notes.

Malak (she/her) believes in local journalism that provides people with verified and comprehensive information. Her favorite places to unwind and pick up a new read are at Detroit’s bookstores and libraries.