Flint, MI—The Flint Community Schools (FCS) Board began talks of reducing the number of schools in the district at a meeting on Thursday, May 25, 2023.
Following a discussion with the Board of Education, the consulting firm Plante Moran Cresa will begin working on options for the Board’s consideration to potentially decrease the amount of school buildings from 11 to between five and seven in the future.
At the moment, the district has eight operating elementary schools and three secondary schools. Cutting down to between five and seven schools could help FCS reduce its operations expenses by 40% to 50%, according to Plante Moran Cresa.
The firm is helping Flint Schools develop a 5-to-10-year plan, and FCS Superintendent Kevelin Jones said the main goals of creating the plan include lightening the district’s footprint. Beyond running its operational buildings including the Administration Building, FCS owns a number of vacant land and unused buildings as well.
“We can’t keep sustaining where we are,” Jones told Flint Beat. “We have to do something different, to rightsize. You can’t have 11 school buildings, 12 buildings open [in total], and then all of those vacant buildings, and expect to be able to sustain it with a declining enrollment. You can’t do that.”
At Thursday’s meeting, Plante Moran Cresa provided its preliminary observations of things like projected enrollment, Flint Schools’ properties and building capacities as the basis of crafting the district’s plan.
“We really want to keep this at a 30,000 foot level … We’re just trying to take a picture of what Flint Schools looks like, and then our next steps will be looking at trying to give more detail,” Joseph Asperger, senior vice president of Plante Moran Cresa, told the Board.
Points raised at the Thursday meeting are by no means set in stone, Jones emphasized.
“This is the first visioning session, so we’re putting things out here that we’re thinking about as a district,” he said during the meeting. “We did not make law and just say we’re closing these buildings … So none of this is approved. This is vision work only.”
Flint Schools has roughly 3,000 students, with a projected decrease in enrollment of roughly 500 students in five to 10 years, according to Plante Moran Cresa’s presentation. The trend would lead to an estimated loss of roughly $5 million in general fund dollars annually.
After getting the Board’s input on Thursday, Plante Moran Cresa will also be looking into potential combinations of student cohorts. That includes a model of pre-kindergarten (PK) through fifth grade, sixth through eight grades, ninth through twelfth grades, or a PK-6, 7-9, 10-12 model, plus one campus for PK-12 students.
Currently, Flint Schools’ student cohorts are grouped as PK-6 (with Brownell STEM Academy being PK-5), 7-8 and 9-12.
Flint Schools has a total of 32 vacant buildings, 10 of which are one-room schoolhouses. Traditional school building properties such as the King Elementary School make up the rest, and the district owns 19 empty parcels of land as well.
All together, it costs roughly $8 million to $10 million annually to maintain Flint Schools’ vacant properties, according to initial estimates by Plante Moran Cresa.
The district has been working with Thrun Law Firm to offload some of its vacant properties, and outstanding bids remain for the Board to consider. The Board has also moved ahead with budgeting for demolishing the shuttered Washington Elementary School recently.
Ultimately, Superintendent Jones told Flint Beat that he hopes the 5-to-10-year plan will help Flint Schools get into a position for growth, but that begins with keeping the district solvent.
“We’ve gotten a lot of community feedback about what they want to see,” Jones said. “They don’t want us to forget the north end. They don’t want us to forget that east area where Potter [Elementary School] is. They don’t want us to forget these spaces and they want to see arts and music come back and all of that. Well, we have to rightsize first. We have to do what’s necessary to stay alive as a district.”
You state in your article “All together, it costs roughly $8 million to $10 million annually to maintain Flint Schools’ vacant properties, according to initial estimates by Plante Moran Cresa. “
Did you see their estimates? If so, can I see them. I am interested in the methodology used to make this estimate.
You state in your article “At the moment, the district has eight operating elementary schools and three secondary schools. Cutting down to between five and seven schools could help FCS reduce its operations expenses by 40% to 50%, according to Plante Moran Cresa.”
Did you see the calculations for this statement? If so, I am interested in the methodology.
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