Rebuilding DPSCD

Through the leadership of a local elected school board and superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti, the Detroit Public Schools Community District has cultivated its Strategic Plan for success. Here, Dr. Vitti explains more about the district's efforts in education reform through Blueprint 2020.

Detroit Public Schools Community District has a vision to restore the community’s pride and confidence in the district. Through its Blueprint 2020 Strategic Plan, the Detroit Public Schools Community District is rebuilding its policies, systems and processes to help students prepare for their futures.

Here, Dr. Nikolai Vitti, the district’s superintendent, offers insight on the Blueprint 2020 plan.

Goals of the strategic plan

As someone who is a champion for students and public urban education reform for more than a decade, Dr. Nikolai Vitti is no stranger to the process. “It was important to have people’s voices heard so they could see themselves in the strategic plan, see the vision of the strategic plan and rally around a plan that has coherence and clarity on how we were going to reform the district,” he says.

And that’s just what they’ve done. The district engaged multiple stakeholders and parents, community members, teachers and students to examine where things are, where they need to go and how to get there. “We created Blueprint 2020, which prioritizes our work. The strategic plan has priorities focused on outstanding achievement, transforming culture, developing the whole child, making sure that we have exceptional talent in our schools and our district – and then being responsible stewards.”

Emphasis on core values

Six Core Values Including: Students First, Excellence, Integrity, Equity, Service, Tenacity

“Our core values were defined by being true to the legacy of DPS because there is a legacy and pride connected to DPS, but there’s also a history of where the expectations weren’t met,” Vitti explains. “And at the same time, the strategic plan represents Detroit and Detroiters, a combination of the history of the district coupled with the grit and perseverance of Detroiters, Detroit, DPS, and now DPSCD.”

Students are top of mind and excellence is in everything the district does. “It’s about giving every child a fair opportunity to use their God-given talents, abilities and reach to exceed their potential. It’s about giving children an opportunity to do better than their parents and their grandparents,” he adds.

Blueprint 2020 priorities

Outstanding achievement, transformative culture, whole child commitment, exceptional talent and responsible stewardship are the plan’s top priorities. “It’s about pathways and making sure that our students are more than ready for college and career,” Vitti says. By understanding each student has his or her own strengths and talents – and avoiding that “one-size-fits-all” model – the district is offering more opportunities for students to express themselves.

“This is why we are rebuilding the arts, so we funded an art or music teacher at every school throughout the district this year, we restored physical education throughout the district, and we’re trying to rebuild electives at the high school levels,” he says. The district has invested in its teachers, too. “Our most important employees are our teachers and we’ve done a better job of paying them. It’s not where we want to be and we are thinking long-term about ways to increase revenue, but we have increased teacher salaries over the last two years,” Vitti explains.

A vision for DPSCD in five years

“The ultimate goal over the next five years is rebuilding the district to be a fully functioning, traditional public school system,” Vitti says. That means there are “systems and processes for everything that we do,” he says, including hiring and paying teachers, providing grade level-appropriate curriculum, offering community meetings to inform parents about district happenings, and having a data system to track children’s progress to intervene properly when needed and keep parents updated. “In a lot of places, people take that for granted,” he says. “That was not happening in our district, so we worked hard and fast just to build operating systems and day-to-day engagement and tools so our children can be successful.”

For more information on the Detroit Public Schools Community District, visit


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