Flint, MI—Flint Schools Board of Education has given the go-ahead for the district to discuss funding opportunities for building and renovating schools with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. 

At its Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023 meeting, the Flint Community Schools (FCS) Board unanimously authorized the administration to start conversations with the Mott Foundation regarding construction, renovation and supporting long-term programs. 

“I want to go to the table as partners and say, ‘Hey, let’s rethink Flint Community Schools, and how could you help us rethink that?’ That’s the goal,” Kevelin Jones, FCS superintendent, told Flint Beat.

He said a 2022 draft proposal to the foundation will serve as a starting point for discussions.

According to the draft, the district has not built a new school building since the early 1970s. The proposal also outlines Flint Schools’ vision for the future, which includes building a high school with a capacity of 1,000 students, constructing four new elementary schools that can house 500 students each and renovating Durant-Tuuri-Mott Elementary School.

“I want to work with the brilliant minds at Mott Foundation to really perfect a proposal to bring back to my Board so that we can do good work for the future of Flint,” Jones said. “I’m very excited.” 

Per the draft proposal, the administration envisions opportunities for career and technology education at the new high school. For the proposed new elementary schools, the district hopes to focus on fostering students “creativity and project-based learning.”

With respect to modernizing Durant-Tuuri-Mott, Jones noted that the school is the largest elementary school and serves as the sole Montessori campus in the district. Montessori education is, in part, centered on providing students with hands-on learning and mixed-age classrooms.

“Having that be our only Montessori building, we want to make it nice for our scholars,” Jones said. 

Moving forward, Jones assured board members of “total transparency” about the administration’s future discussions with the Mott Foundation.

Previously, up to $200 million of potential investment from the Mott Foundation was sidelined amid Board concerns about communication from the administration, then led by former Superintendent Anita Steward.

“There’s going to be total transparency,” Jones said during the Board’s Feb. 8 meeting. “We’re going to let you know how things are going and what the foundation and myself and the team [are] talking about.” 

Beyond seeking funding from the Mott Foundation, Board Treasurer Dylan Luna advocated for launching a capital campaign to fundraise through alumni, community members, philanthropic organizations as well as local, state and federal sources. 

Board Vice President Terae King Jr. and Melody Relerford, Board trustee, said the idea is prudent in interviews with Flint Beat.

“The amazing individuals that come out of Flint Community Schools are worldwide, and I think it would be an honor and a privilege for those individuals to have the opportunity to give back to the Flint Community Schools,” Relerford said. “I think a lot of them have actually been waiting on the opportunity.”

In the meantime, now that the Board has cleared the way for discussions to begin, Relerford said that she looks forward “to the opportunity to be able to listen to the Mott Foundation and hear what they’re saying, and hopefully they hear what we have to say.”

Nicholas is Flint Beat’s public health and education reporter. He joins the team as he graduates from Santa Clara University, Calif. Nicholas has previously reported on dementia and brain health, as...

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