Teaching Profession

Crumbling, Mold-Infested Detroit School Gets Celebrity Attention, $500K Donation

By Corey Mitchell — February 11, 2016 1 min read

Images of the mold, warped gym floor, and dilapidated playground at Detroit’s Spain Elementary-Middle School have fueled public outcry over the decaying condition of the city’s schools.

The plight of students and staff at the school have now drawn the attention of talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who secured $500,000 from Lowe’s Companies, Inc. “in technology, materials for renovations around the campus, and funding for additional staff.”

DeGeneres reached out to the Detroit school system earlier this year about helping make improvements at the school. The donation will go through the Detroit schools’ capital improvements fund and be funneled to the school, a district spokeswoman told the Detroit News.

Teachers who participated in several sickouts earlier this school year cited the conditions at Spain and other Detroit schools as one of the motivating factors. The issues teachers raised led Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who spotted a dead mouse during a building tour, to order city crews to inspect all the city’s schools by the end of April.

The problems at Spain may be the most stark, but it’s just one of many schools in dire need of improvements. The school system’s outgoing emergency manager the repair bill for the most pressing problems could top $50 million.

Here’s a PBS NewsHour report on the troubles at Spain and the problems facing the cash-strapped Detroit district, which faces the threat of bankruptcy this spring:

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.