Flint, MI—At the end of a more than five hour meeting, Flint Community Schools (FCS) Board of Education voted 3-3 on a contract to demolish Central High School and Whittier Classical Academy, effectively postponing the decision until further notice.
“You would need four votes to move it forward,” FCS Superintendent Kevelin Jones explained after the meeting. “When there’s a 3-3, it means that it fails.”
Jones added that the board is able to revisit the contract in a subcommittee meeting, but that they would need to be the ones to reintroduce that action.
“So when the board makes that decision, I will be ready to talk to them in a subcommittee meeting,” Jones said. “So it’s really postponed—the conversation is postponed—until further notice.”
While no plan was shared for what would potentially replace the campus, the discussion seemed to center on the possibility that the site could later be used for a new FCS school building.
“The children deserve the best that we can possibly afford to make sure that they get, and so I am for new schools,” said Board Trustee Allen Gilbert, who together with Board President Carol McIntosh and Vice President Chris Del Morone voted in favor of sending the demolition contract through for a final vote at the board’s next meeting.
Secretary Linda Boose and Trustees Dr. Joyce Ellis-McNeal and Laura MacIntyre voted against, citing the need for further discussion and concerns over how the contract came to be on the board’s Oct. 12, 2022 agenda.
“Where’s this documentation? Where’s the legal opinion where we decided to do something with the Central property once the building is demolished?” asked MacIntyre. “If I’m on the board and I’m at a loss, I can imagine that everybody else is confused and asking questions, too. I’m kind of shell-shocked right now to be honest.”
The 3-3 vote followed a host of impassioned public comments on the schools’ potential demolition.
“I’m here to ask that this board reconsider voting on this issue tonight, for several reasons, not least of which is that the neighborhood association—the residents most directly affected by this demolition and long term redevelopment of the site—have never been consulted, despite reaching out to every iteration of this board over the last 15 years,” said Nic Custer, vice president of the Central Park Neighborhood Association.
“It is unfortunate that we are in favor of redevelopment of the site and just want a voice, and cannot even be afforded that,” Custer said, whose sentiments were shared by several other speakers through the evening.
Flint residents Arthur Woodson and AC Dumas both spoke in favor of the potential demolition.
The latter said he’d welcome a similar plan if it had been offered to Flint Northern High School, an FCS building which closed in 2013 before briefly reopening under a new name and closing permanently in 2014.
“On the north side of Flint we don’t have one functioning school,” Dumas said. “What I hear about Central being tore down and Whittier being tore down is nothing. Tear it down. Build something new…What about Northern?”
Flint Beat reached out to Board Secretary Boose for clarification on when the Board of Education might reconsider the demolition contract but did not hear back by press time.
The board voted to hold its next meeting on Oct. 26, 2022.