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Flint, MI—The sale of Flint Community Schools’ vacant properties has been at a standstill since the district opened bids in August 2021 as the Board of Education has not taken any formal action to decide which properties to sell, according to the district’s website.
While they are not currently accepting bids, Board President Danielle Green said they hope to schedule a public workshop to develop a plan for selling the properties.
“The board never officially decided on a plan of action to go forward with selling vacant buildings,” she said. “We will come up with a concrete plan that we can vote on.”
The delay is due, in part, to the sudden change in administration and other priorities that took precedence, Green said.
In August 2021, the board voted to open bids to Flint residents, saying that they would allow bids from nonresidents after the new year. They told residents to email Executive Assistant Monaca Elston with their proposals.
Green said they’ve not received any offers but have received 12 informal inquiries.
She said selling the properties is a crucial step in moving the district forward.
“I hope (the profit) can go towards paying down our deficit, getting us out of debt,” Green said.
But profit is not the only thing the board will consider when choosing how to sell, Green said.
“We might have somebody who offers us $100,000 for a building (and somebody else) offers $50,000. But these $50,000 buyers want to do something that’s so great for the city. That is important to us. … That carries a lot of weight. It’s not just about the money. Not at all,” Green said.
The district owns about 22 vacant or abandoned properties. Even vacant, they cost the district around $2 million each year because they are required to maintain a certain level of insurance, Green said.
Fires at the properties have also been an issue for the district. Over the past few years, there have been “at least” 30 vacant structure fires at Flint Schools’ properties, Flint Fire Sergeant John Smith Jr. told the Board of Education Jan. 19.
Between November 2021-January 2022, the fire department responded to 10 fires at district-owned buildings, Fire Chief Raymond Barton said.
“I’m just tired of riding past empty buildings. It just sickens me,” Green said. “We don’t want the eyesores.”
Green asked that Flint residents continue being patient as the board moves forward. The sale of the buildings hinges on decisions that have yet to be made, including solidifying a strategic plan and a financial workshop to discuss the district’s Enhanced Deficit Elimination Plan.
“My apologies for taking longer than we anticipated. But please be patient with us. We do want these structures, these buildings, to be used in a positive way. … It’s just that we have to do it right,” Green said.