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."
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.