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Detroit School Of Arts Becomes District's First Self-governing School With Help From City Arts Groups

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DETROIT SCHOOL OF ARTS
The Detroit School of Arts will be the district's first self-governing school, run by a council with input from leaders in arts organizations in the city. | Alamy

The Detroit School of Arts will see more autonomy and outside input next year, the district announced Monday, with arts organizations taking a hands-on role in in the school's leadership.

A new volunteer governing council for the public high school in Midtown will draw members from the Detroit Arts Corridor Organization, the University of Michigan School of Education and the Hudson-Webber Foundation. The school will also partner with the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Sphinx Organization, Mosaic Youth Theatre and University Musical Society.

DSA is the first of 10 public schools in Detroit slated to transition to a new self-governing model next year.

"By shifting authority to make vital decisions to the school level, DPS offers schools both the ability to maintain consistency in their programs and the ability to make decisions that best serve the needs of their particular students," Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts said in a statement.

Roberts said the district's goal is to make DSA the "highest performing arts-infused high school in America." School officials hope collaborating with arts organizations will bring outside resources and new opportunities to students.

The announcement follows plans Roberts revealed last month to transfer 10 public high schools and 16 charter schools to self-governance, giving them authority over hiring, curriculum and budgets. Together, the schools serve more than 7,500 students.

Each governing council will have five to nine members, including a parent and leaders in the public and private sectors.

According to the Michigan Citizen, DSA students and parents voiced concerns over the new plan at a meeting last month with DPS Innovation Officer Doug Ross, who is leading the self-governance effort, citing the similarities they saw to charter schools.

Roberts has made it clear that the schools will remain in the DPS system and not be turned into charters, and teachers will still be under a collective bargaining agreement, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Some students were upset that they might lose their principal, Rita Davis, who will need to reapply for her position.

Roberts has made significant changes in the district since taking over as emergency manager in May 2011, introducing drastic cuts to reduce the district's deficit by more than $230 million.

In February, he announced nine schools will close before next year and four others will convert to charters. Other high schools moving to self-governance include four schools within Cody High School, three schools at Osborn High School, Benjamin Carson School for Science and Medicine and Detroit Collegiate Preparatory Academy.

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