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By J. Smith

Robert Bobb, Detroit Public School’s Emergency Financial Manager, is taking a leap of faith to try to rescue the financially ailing system and keep from closing 50 percent of the district’s schools. After he was told last month to make the closings to help cut the city’s $327 million deficit, he offered an alternative proposal that may keep students from sitting on top of each other in overly crowded classrooms.

He announced the Renaissance Plan 2012 on March 12 that will aim to turn 41 of the Department of Public School’s 142 schools into charters. The district said that the change will affect 16,000 students and that some of the newly chartered schools will be high schools, The Huffinton Post reports.

Early estimates say the Renaissance Plan could save $75-99 million per year in operating costs, and $22 million could be saved by cutting the costs incurred by shutting down schools, according to the Post. If the proposal is approved, it would make Detroit one of the districts with the highest number of students enrolled in charter schools in the county. This, of course, causes onlookers to take sides, reviving the “charter v. public” fights.

A press release issued by the Department of Public Schools says, “students living withtin the neighborhood will be given priority enrollment, and charter operators will be contractually required to meet all special education needs of enrolled students.”

“Rather than simply closing schools, this plan seeks to transform DPS into one of the nation’s premier urban school districts by recruiting some of the best, proven school operators to serve Detroit’s children and remake schools that have been failing them for years,” Bobb said.

Read more: 41 Detroit Public Schools to Become Charter Schools

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