Flint, MI — The Flint Community Schools (FCS) Board of Education approved closing four of the district’s buildings in a “phased approach” over the next three school years.

The board voted to close Pierce Elementary in the 2024-25 school year, and Neithercut Elementary in 2025-26. Though other potential closures were also proposed, the Board voted those down during a special meeting on Oct. 5, 2023.

There, trustees reviewed information shared by consulting firm Plante Moran Cresa and offered their opinions on suggested actions.

Plante Moran Cresa’s presentation cites metrics on the district’s current and projected enrollment, building capacities, utilization and associated costs. 

Given those numbers, which show an expected drop in enrollment and district buildings operating at 28% to 82% capacity, the firm proposed consideration of four school closures as both a cost-saving measure and right-sizing guideline from the state.

“Flint Community Schools building utilization [average] of 55% is significantly less than the 85% as recommended by the State of Michigan,” the presentation reads. 

The consulting firm added that with FCS’ enrollment at 2,823 students last school year, that utilization rate results in nearly 451,000 square feet of unnecessary, costly space to upkeep.

“For FCS’ additional 450,830 square feet this equates to approximately $3,600,000 to $4,500,000 per year,” the presentation states. “If FCS were to close just (4) of its (12) buildings being operated, this equates to approximately 195,436 of additional square feet that can be reduced and equates to approximately $1,560,000 to $1,950,000 per year.”

Before voting on which buildings to close, the Board first voted to approve an overall plan to close four buildings in a phased approach over the next three school years, from 2024 through 2027, as suggested by the firm.

All board members but Trustee Melody Relerford and Board Assistant Secretary/Treasurer Laura MacIntyre approved the measure.

“I just need you guys to pay attention to that: four schools in three years,” Releford said. “And we have never, as a board, closed one school. [We] haven’t closed one office. That’s a tall task with a lot of unknown variables.”

Board Treasurer Dylan Luna responded, “This board is not ‘the how.’ That’s the how.” 

He paused, pointing at FCS Superintendent Kevelin Jones.

“His staff and his team. You have teachers who have been doing this for 20, 30 years. School leaders have been doing this for a while. I trust them to do the how if we do the why. I’m going to support this motion.”

After the vote was done, Luna put forward a motion to close Pierce Elementary in the 2024-25 school year. His motion was approved 6-1, with all but Releford voting in favor. 

A student at Pierce Elementary School in Flint, Mich. does his math assignment on March 18, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)

Trustee Terae King, Jr. then made a motion to put Eisenhower Elementary up for closure in the 2025-26 school year. 

King’s motion failed in a vote of three yes and four no, with King, Luna and Relerford voting in favor, and MacIntyre, Board President Michael Clack, Vice President Joyce Ellis-McNeal and Secretary Claudia Perkins voting against.

While Ellis-McNeal cited her desire to consider the options a bit more before making any further closure votes, MacIntyre alleged that there were “hidden agendas and motives” regarding Eisenhower’s closure.

“I’m deeply concerned about—and I’m not speaking about any particular person here at the table… but I am deeply concerned about hidden agendas and motives for closing some of these buildings because of the property these buildings are on,” MacIntyre said.

MacIntyre added that she planned to gather more “concrete information” to prove her claim, but in the meantime she wanted to hang on to Eisenhower, which is on Flint’s west side, about a mile from the district’s Durant-Turri-Mott Elementary.

King said he had made the Eisenhower closure suggestion based on Plante Moran Cresa’s feedback, not a “backdoor deal,” though he acknowledged that MacIntyre’s statement might not be directed at him.

“My intent is to make sure we consolidate resources to perform for our scholars and pay our staff more,” he said. “That’s my thought process.”

Flint School Board member Terae King Jr. addresses the board during the Flint School Board meeting on Wednesday Feb. 15, 2023 at Accelerated Learning Academy in Flint, Mich. (Jenifer Veloso | Flint Beat)

Luna added that if there is concern over “backdoor” deals, the Board of Ed. can put forward policies on how to handle the closure and sale of district properties.

“I got one [policy] right here. I can share it with the public. It talks about several key principles that will protect our property,” he said. “For example… ‘The district shall not make a recently vacated property available for sale if it’s centrally located.’”

Luna also noted the policy could require the district to “pursue all available options to lease vacant properties that are not slit for permanent disposition” as well as offer an “adoption” process for properties that don’t receive buyer or lessee interest.

“So if you want to mitigate these accusations, and not see our schools being sold to the highest bidder, let’s pass policy to prevent it,” Luna said to the Board.

Ultimately, no such policy was voted on during the Oct. 5 special meeting, though King made a new motion to close Neithercut Elementary in the 2025-26 school year.

That motion passed 4-3 with Luna, King, Clack and Relerford voting in favor and MacIntyre, Ellis-McNeil and Perkins voting against.

Flint Community Schools’ Administration Building

While the Board ultimately voted down closing the district’s administration building, which is located in Flint’s Central Park neighborhood, two motions were made to do so over the course of the special meeting.

Luna first proposed closing the building in the 2025-26 school year, a suggestion made within Plante Moran Cresa’s presentation. However, this motion failed for a lack of a second.

He then made a motion to close the building in the 2026-27 school year, which was supported by Trustee King. 

The Flint Community Schools Administration Building in Flint, Mich is seen on Jan. 25, 2023. (Nicholas Chan | Flint Beat)

Luna suggested that within the phased three years of school closures to come, the district would have enough time to both relocate administrators directly into its underutilized remaining buildings and communicate the new location to scholars and their families.

“If we can’t do that, then shame on us because we have to make decisions,” Luna said to his colleagues.

Superintendent Jones noted that he was not in favor of selling the administration property, even if it could be considered for leasing or “repurposing” otherwise.

“I just want to be very clear. I’m not for us selling that property to anyone. As we repurpose, the goal for Flint is to not have those bills,” Jones said. “So… when we repurpose, someone needs to be paying us for property.”

Relerford said she considered the building a possible location for district staff’s professional development, and selling it “will always be a no” for her.

“We can revamp it, we can reuse it, but it needs to remain an intricate part of Flint Community Schools,” she said.

Melody Relerford listens to public comment during the Flint Community Schools Board of Education’s committee of the whole meeting at the Accelerated Learning Academy in Flint, Mich. on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)

Luna said he recognized the Board’s aversions to his motion, but they would be causing more damage by pushing the decision to a later date.

“I can count votes and I can tell it’s not going to pass right now,” he said. “But I want to make a point: we need to, yes, do things differently than they did in the past. Because in the past they let these properties sit, they kicked the can down the road, and they spoke in rhetoric instead of action. Guess what? Our children, our future, they don’t thrive on rhetoric.”

Instead, he said, FCS scholars thrive on having “resources” and “a strong teacher” in their classroom because the Board makes decisions on closures and reallocation of district assets.

In the end, the Board voted 5-2 against closing the administration building in 2026-27, with just King and Luna voting in favor. However, King said he was not discouraged that the last vote of the night did not go his way.

“Board, we had civil conversation… I’m proud of us for getting to two [closures]. Now, we have two more to go,” he said, adding that he plans to ask for another meeting early next year to finalize the remaining approved closures.

“As was stated, the can’s been kicked down the road,” King concluded. “It’s time for us to pick up that can and address the issues.”

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....

3 replies on “Flint Schools to close four buildings, starting with Pierce Elementary”

  1. They just spent tens of thousands of dollars ripping up the parking lot at Pierce and now they want to close it?! This school closes, it is yet another one of the few good neighborhoods Flint has left…Gone! And they have no intentions on selling it cause they want it leased? So let’s just let it sit there and rot rather than consider selling it! What a stupid idea. It is a sad day for this beautiful neighborhood. With any luck maybe the Mott foundation will step in? They do SO MUCH MORE for the City than ANY of the people who “Work” for the city like certain council members!

  2. Fresh out of high school, 1969-73, I worked at the Administration Building. It was a cold drafty building even then. Can’t imagine what shape it’s in now. The entire system is apparently struggling and has been for many years. Folks like Betsy DeVos take joy in this because it ultimately feeds her family’s type of agenda. They want every aspect of our lives feeding their bank accounts, while they claim it’s for the purpose of “advancing God’s Kingdom”. I’m guessing that all the charter and parochial schools are doing just fine in Flint. Mission accomplished.

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