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Detroit Public Schools Unveils New Strategic Plan

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Some Detroit schools will see longer academic years and preschool programs will be expanded under a new plan announced by state-appointed emergency manager Roy Roberts.

Roberts also said that far fewer schools will be closed, as part of the "Neighborhood-Centered, Quality Schools," plan.

"Our new strategy for growth ... we're be closing far fewer buildings than we initially announced: four, as opposed to 28," Roberts said at a news conference Thursday. "And I've instructed the team to close only schools when moving students will place them in a better setting -- either academically, or physically, or both -- and impact as few people as possible."

Using a community schools model, the district also plans to keep programs at some schools available 12 hours each day, seven days a week. The district's preschool programs also will be expanded to include all 4-year-old children in the district.

The plan comes after a 5-week planning process involving students, parents, teachers, principals, clergy and community leaders.

"Our strategic plan will be the roadmap we follow to create a stronger, more sustainable district that will not only maintain the students we have, but help us grow and prosper by regaining market share," said Roberts. "Long gone are the days when anyone had a monopoly on the education of our children. I am certain that the competition created by the increase in education options in our community is a good thing because it forces us to be the best, not just academically but across the board."

Robert said all of this is part of a plan to grow the student body.

"We have to be the school of choice for people, and guess what? We'll get people back who left us and some that have never been with us," Roberts said.

Toward that end, Roberts said all employees will receive training in how to treat parents better.

" That if we can really go after being friendly to people -- and we do it right -- we'll get three more percentage points of market share."

Will Robert be able to fill the district's 28,000 empty seats?

WWJ's Sandra McNeil posted that question to Hillary Young who has a kindergartner at Maybury Elementary.

"I don't know that I can be convinced. I'm hopeful ...," Young said.

The schools that will close are Wilkins Elementary-Middle School, Oakman Elementary-Orthopedic School, Northwestern High School and the Harris professional development building.

The Detroit Collegiate Preparatory program will move from a wing to the main part of Northwestern's building.

The Duke Ellington Elementary-Middle School program will move to the building that currently houses the William J. Beckham Academy program.

Get more details about closings and consolidations here.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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