DETROIT (WJBK) - Detroit schools came under fire last year when teachers and students complained of classrooms that were filthy and falling apart. Now they're getting ready to go back to school and the district says all of its buildings will be up to safety codes.
"Every now and then you have to stand up and say 'hey, we need help'," said Bates Academy Teacher Lisa Brown.
It was teachers like Lisa Brown who stood up and started talking about safety concerns at many Detroit Public Schools. In fact, school officials admit last year not one DPS school building was in compliance with health and safety codes.
What a difference a school year can make
"Today, 86 schools have certificates of compliance that (show) they are are 100% compliant with the city building codes," Mayor Mike Duggan
One week before the start of the school year, and school and city officials gathered at Bates Academy to show off the progress to her building. Officials say the district has spent more than $2 million to get many schools up to code after receiving much needed funding from state lawmakers
"The funds that we were able to receive will up help us with key academic initiatives, enhance our safety and security, and to begin to address some of our major facility repairs." transition manager Judge Rhodes said.
Officials say the fix includes more than repairing ceilings, and correcting heating and plumbing issues. Drinking fountains inside school buildings were also addressed thanks to a grant
"They made the proper repairs and I'm pleased to report today that testing shows there are no elevated lead levels in the water in any Detroit public school," Duggan said.
Parents say the progress means their kids have a chance to compete in society
"As a parent when I send my child to school, I want to talk about to them about education, about listening, about paying attention, about being kind, not about if they can drink out of a water fountain." Bates Academy Parent Carlton Aikens said.
Officials say they're not done; another eight schools still need certificates of compliance. Those schools are: Breithaupt Career and Technical, Cody Schools, Detroit International Academy for Women, Emerson Elementary-Middle School, Mann Learning Community, Sampson Webber, Turning Point Academy, and Vernor Elementary.
"These repairs will not interfere with the opening of the school or operations of school," Duggan said.
Officials say the work ahead is all part of the city's comeback and is sorely needed if Detroit is going to return to former glory.
"Bottomline we will not make a total comeback in this city unless the school district makes a total comeback," interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather said.