Detroit Public Schools officials tonight presented board members with a preliminary realignment plan, which would result in the closure of 51 school buildings – or nearly quarter of the District’s buildings. Of this number, 47 will close in the summer of 2007 and 4 in the summer of 2008.
Beginning in the second year of the plan, the closures could save the District nearly $19 million a year and steer it closer to financial solvency. The amount of estimated savings per school is based solely on reductions in staff from these buildings, as well as rent for two leases that will expire in 2008. It does not include savings from utilities, materials, repair and maintenance, among other things. The savings will be offset by an estimated $21 million that it will cost for moving and other expenses associated with the closures.
Of the 51 schools proposed for closure, 38 are elementary or k-8 schools, six are middle schools and seven are comprehensive or alternative high schools.
This list is only preliminary and must be adopted by a majority of the Detroit Board of Education before it is final. Members of the public are invited to comment on the list throughout this month. All comments and proposed alternatives will be closely reviewed. The superintendent will make any final changes and present final recommendations to the board at two meetings in February.
The attempt to close these many schools represents an aggressive attempt on the part of the Detroit Public Schools to ensure that its school capacity is in line with its enrollment. Since 1996, the District has lost approximately 60,000 students, or nearly a third of its enrollment. During this same period, the District has only reduced the number of its school buildings by 14 percent.