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Small school mergers create uncertain futures for some DPSCD students and staff

<p>The Mumford Glee Club sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing before the start of&nbsp;DPSCD Board of Director's meeting in the Mumford Auditorium on May 8.</p>

The Mumford Glee Club sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing before the start of DPSCD Board of Director's meeting in the Mumford Auditorium on May 8.

First, it was Osborn. After visiting the school last spring, new superintendent Nikolai Vitti proposed merging the three small high schools on the Osborn campus into one school starting last fall.

Now the rest of the small schools in the district will have their turn.

The Detroit Public School Community District Board of Directors met in the Mumford Hight School auditorium on May 9, and voted to combine the small schools at Cody, Mumford and Benjamin Carson/Crockett Career and Technical Center in their respective buildings.

According to a story at, Vitti told board members at a finance committee meeting in March that consolidating the schools would save the district almost $2 million by eliminating overlap in positions such as principals and other administrators.

The two principals on the Mumford campus, Nir Saar of Mumford Academy and Angela Prince of Mumford High School, say they understand and support Vitti’s plan.

“I support the superintendent’s vision and what he is trying to do,” said Prince, who was chosen to lead the unified Mumford High School.

Saar said he understands the district is making the best decision for students across the district as a whole, but it’s difficult to say goodbye to Mumford Academy.

“I think we spent three years building a school that looks and feels different than most Detroit high schools, and we have been getting results that are exceptional,” Saar said. “It's really sad to see that we won't be able to continue this work and see it all the way through.”

Students and parents of Mumford Academy have expressed their concerns about combining the schools for the next year. Junior class vice president Kamia Woodson said students who have been on the Academy side since the ninth grade (now juniors) were very excited that they were going to be the first class to graduate on the Academy side.

“Many classmates and myself were crying at the fact that we as a family were going to be broken up,” Woodson said.

Saar said it’s his understanding is that the district is trying to keep the cohorts together in similar groups with similar teachers, so students groups might be able to stay intact.

“I think Ms. Prince is going to be really thoughtful in how she combines the students and the staff into a large school,” Saar said.

Prince said she cannot announce specific plans until she meets with the district, but she wants to keep the transition as smooth as possible.

“I think there are some real benefits to having small schools on a campus, but I think that there is a way that we can work as one school and still have that small school feel,” Prince said, adding that she’ll be meeting with Saar to discuss features of the Academy that can be incorporated in the combined school.

Prince said she understands parents want to know their kids are going to be in a safe environment and that somebody is going to know who their child is.

“I think the students and parents are going to be happy that we are still going to be doing small schools, we're just going to doing it in a different way. It's still going to be very personalized,” Prince said.

Principals and district leaders will be meeting for the next several weeks to finalize plans for all three schools before announcing them. That means staff and students at Cody and Ben Carson/Crockett are also still waiting for details about the transitions at their schools.

Cody Detroit Institute of Technology junior Nala Barlow said she wishes this merger would have happened earlier.

“It’s a chance to unite the campus and bring our community back together,” Barlow said.


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