closing schools

The former Carstens Elementary School building, on Detroit's east side, is one of many, many schools that have been shuttered in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Looks like we've got another tug of war between Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette.

At stake? Whether failing schools within the new Detroit Public Schools Community District can be shut down at the end of this school year.

Today, Attorney General Bill Schuette issued his legal opinion on the matter and Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio’s Lansing Bureau Chief, joined us to explain what went down.

An empty classrom with light shinging in from the windows.
Kevin Wong / Flickr -

This week, the Snyder administration’s School Reform Office suggested that it could eventually close schools where students have low rankings on state tests.

Schools that rank in the bottom 5% -- with some exceptions -- would be closed under this plan, which would shutter more than 100 schools from across the state.

In an opinion piece this week in the Lansing State Journal, John P. Smith III criticized the state’s plans.

Smith is a professor of educational psychology at Michigan State University and he joined Stateside to talk about why he thinks the closing of the schools, and the methodology that led to that decision is flawed.

Allen Academy is unimstakably a former Catholic church.
Allen Academy / via Facebook

How do you decide if a so-called “failing” school should shut down, and is there a right way to do it?

Three Detroit charter schools shut their doors forever at the end of this school year.

One of them, Allen Academy, was one of the city’s very first charters. And its closure leaves a wake of upheaval.

"The kids are going to be better off"

The ornate, red-brick complex on Detroit’s west side is unmistakably an old Catholic church.

The Saint Theresa of Avila parish closed in the 1980s. Since 1999, it’s been Allen Academy.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Developers have until tomorrow to tell Lansing school district officials what they would like to do with an iconic high school in the capitol city.

Children have been learning at Lansing’s Eastern High School for nearly 90 years. But the aging building’s future is unclear.

“Everybody likes the building,” says district spokesman Bob Kolt, “but it doesn’t meet the educational needs for the future.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers could take up legislation next week meant to keep schools out of deficit.

The legislation would require more reporting from schools that are deemed to be in financial trouble. It could also open up more money in state grants and loans.

State Sen. Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, says he’s confident the bills will reach the governor’s desk by the end of the year.

“The more I talk about the process that we’re trying to establish the more support we get,” said Walker.

Whitmore Lake Public Schools /

Next week, voters will decide whether Ann Arbor schools should annex the small, struggling district next door: Whitmore Lake.  

And some Whitmore Lake students say this may be the best way to save the small-town schools they love.

The 11th-graders in Jill Henry's advanced-placement government class are bright kids.

Even before they started doing their election projects about this possible annexation, they obviously knew their district was struggling.

After all, the whole district is down to just about 1,000 kids.

It’s $60 million in debt.

Detroit taxpayers foot big bill for closed schools

Oct 27, 2013
Flickr user/Dave-a-roni (Dark Spot Photography)

Detroit property owners face a quarter century of payments for construction and renovation of school buildings that no longer operate.

The Detroit Free Press says that 110 buildings covered by $2.1 billion in bond issues in 1994 and 2009 are either empty or demolished.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Detroit's pension systems vs. Kevyn Orr

Detroit has two pension systems and both have posted fairly strong funding levels. But emergency manager Kevyn Orr has questioned some of those numbers. Orr spokesman Bill Nowling says using more realistic projections changes the funding levels, but Detroit’s pension systems say their numbers are correct.

Michigan schools might consolidate services

Michigan schools could be forced to consolidate many of their services into county-wide systems if state lawmakers decide to go along with a plan released yesterday by state Superintendent Mike Flanagan. Flanagan wants services like transportation, food, and staff training to be handled at the county or regional level.

“And local districts, they can spend time on student achievement issues and not worry about all that other stuff,” Flanagan told Michigan Public Radio's Jake Neher.

Detroit City Council will select new leader

The Detroit City Council is expected to select a new president today. The board typically numbers nine but now has six members after two recently resigned and the former President Charles Pugh deserted his duties.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The man hired by the Flint School Board to find buyers for closed school buildings is not optimistic he’ll be able to find buyers.

Last night, the Flint school district hired Cooper Commercial, a Genesee County commercial real estate company, to try to find buyers for more than two dozen old schools and other buildings.

Twenty seven seniors from Buena Vista High School graduated yesterday. After the school district's difficult year and budget crisis, the graduation was a happy event for the school and community. The future of the school district remains uncertain.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - The Flint School District board has decided to relocate Flint Northern High students and close four other schools as part of a cost-cutting effort.

The Flint Journal reports that following Wednesday's decision Flint Northern, known as the "Home of the Champions," will close as a seventh through 12th grade building. Students there will go to Northwestern High and Southwestern Academy.

Flint Northern will become the Northern Alternative Education Center and offer a new program for students in seventh through ninth grades.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Public School district would close 10 schools under a new “transformation plan” unveiled Monday night.

Over the past decade GRPS has lost 7,000 students; dropping it to the fifth largest district in the state. Along with the loss of students, Grand Rapids Public Schools has cut more than $100 million and closed 25 schools. But almost half its buildings are still way below capacity and the graduation rate is only 47-percent. 

Something happened this week which will, unless something changes soon, have the effect of finishing the job of effectively destroying the Detroit public schools. And maybe, Michigan’s future.

The state department of education has ordered Detroit to put in place a financial restructuring plan that would close half the district’s schools within two years. That would result in an  average high school class size of sixty-two students.