March 17th, 2010
11:37 AM ET

45 Detroit schools set to close under plan

Forty-five Detroit schools or educational buildings will close in June under a $1 billion plan unveiled Wednesday by the city school district's emergency financial manager.

The district has been beset with falling enrollment as well as aging buildings, emergency financial manager Robert Bobb said Wednesday. The plan will allow the district to cut operating costs by some $31 million in 2010 and ensure lower maintenance costs in the future, he said.

The plan, which complements an academic plan recently unveiled by Bobb, will "create a leaner, smarter DPS," he said.

"We believe that this plan provides certainty where in the minds of some, there may be uncertainty."

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The Detroit Free Press reported Wednesday that another 13 facilities will be closed by 2012.

The district has 50,000 excess seats, Bobb said, and kindergarten enrollment has declined from 16,046 in 1994 to 6,039 in 2009. Such decreases are expected to continue, Bobb said. The Free Press reported that district enrollment will fall from 84,000 this year to 56,000 students in the 2014-15 school year.

Community members will be able to provide feedback on the plan at a series of town hall meetings, Bobb said. A final decision will be made in mid- to late April. If voters approve a bond measure sometime in the future, he said, "this plan offers a potential investment of over $1 billion in city neighborhoods."

According to the Free Press, other schools will be constructed under a two-part construction plan. The first phase calls for the remodeling and
renovation of 22 schools, using $500.5 million under a bond measure voters approved in November. The second recommends another $500 million in renovations and new schools, but would require voters' approval of an additional bond measure.

The plan will coincide with $41 million in security upgrades at all schools, Bobb said. It was formulated after officials considered factors
including enrollment versus capacity, academic performance, and the conditions of neighborhoods and facilities, among others.
The proposal also calls for the construction of new campuses, aimed at educating everyone from preschoolers to college students, the Free Press reported.

The previously released academic plan calls for a 98 percent high school graduation rate and a 100 percent college acceptance rate by 2015.
"We're still going to grow the district," Bobb said, but will do it "realistically."

The plan also aims to protect schools along city boundaries as officials believe the district would further lose students to suburban districts if those schools were to close, he said.

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Filed under: Education • U.S.
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Josef

    A leaner, yet more crowded Detroit public school mind you. A tragedy.

    March 17, 2010 at 11:50 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Robin

    Politically, this is simply a move to align the DPS with the new "leaner Detroit" philosophy being embraced by Detroit's mayor. Shame on them! Getting the schools to operate for the betterment of students should have been their focus. This plan, in contrast, will simply keep students out who need to be educated. I am hopeful that other districts around the country do NOT follow Detroit's lead!

    March 17, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Alis

    Yeah because our classrooms weren't crowded enough. Oh and we had an abundance of teachers and supplies...sigh

    March 17, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Brian

    The Gov. steps in and saves car companys, it saves mortgage companys, it saves everything that deals with big money. There is no money in kids' lives. Let them shut the schools down....who cares....it's just our future and the future of our country. There's gov. thinking for you. So much for Obama and his education reform ideas. Sounds like a counter productive way of reform if you ask me.

    March 17, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Dina

    Finally leadership to reduce costs. As a teacher, every day I hear about how school administators and superintendents, talk to the public about how money is need for better education and for children in the classroom, we never see the money. Ask your school administrators to see where the actually money is spent. What direct improvement was made to the childrens grades for the last 5 years. I bet you almost none. Ask to see the financial audit of a independent company or person. Ask if they get 3 competive bids on buses and all vender contracts. You may be surprised! If us in our homes do not get more money, we all live on a budget and spend equal or less if we make less, why doesn't school boards respect the same fiscal responsibility all Americans familes have to do

    March 18, 2010 at 12:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Jennifer Schrauben

    i wish some educators actually had some political power.... how knows what's best for students than teachers? I can't believe that the government (state and federal) keep unqualified people in their top positions on education. If teacher's were in charge there wouldn't be the test mania of the bush/obama era.

    March 18, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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