Flint, MI—Flint Community Schools is facing some tough decisions over the next three years.

The district must decide whether to spend $128 million in capital improvements for their 11 underutilized school buildings, build new buildings, consolidate, or a combination of all three.

Over the past seven months, Plante Moran Cresa, a commercial real estate advisor, has been performing capital assessments and pupil enrollment projection for Flint Schools’ properties that are currently in use. They presented their findings to the Flint Community Schools Board of Education during a board meeting Dec. 15.

According to the firm, a total of roughly $171 million in capital improvements will be needed in the next decade. These improvements include HVAC systems, boilers, rooftop units, air conditioning, interior renovations, and investing in 21st century learning and technology.

The estimation is based on an average spend of $100 per square-foot in capital improvement needs, or the amount districts should be spending to maintain their buildings.

Findings showed that approximately 74% Flint Schools’ buildings are in critical need, meaning some improvements must be made in the next one to three years.

“We did a visible inspection of all your buildings, and we had interviews with your building engineers as well, to learn what your current state of your buildings are,” Nicole Blocker said, vice president of Plante Moran Cresa.

According to the firm’s enrollment findings, Flint Schools falls short of state qualification standards for building utilization. Districts should aim for 85% building utilization and on average, Flint Schools utilize 66% of their building space.

Between the district’s eight elementary schools, there is capacity for an additional 906 students.

Elementary enrollment projections over the next five years total 1,600 students, meaning the district has need for only four elementary schools, Blocker said.

Flint Schools has lost 4,100 students in the past 10 years. Blocker said this is partially due to birth rates in Genesee County trending downwards.

The total enrollment projection for the next five years is 2,500 students, approximately 500 fewer than this year’s count of 3,000 students.

Board members said building new buildings is still an option, but they have not made any final decisions yet.

Another training session with Plante Moran Cresa will be scheduled after the holidays.  

Carmen Nesbitt is a journalist with diverse experience in news reporting and feature writing. She wrote for Hour Detroit and SEEN Magazine before joining the Flint Beat news team as an education and public...