Flint, MI— Flint Community Schools may be partnering with a multitude of of local organizations for a several-hundred-million-dollar project to save the district after years of declining enrollment and funding cuts.
A draft of a Memorandum of Understanding obtained by Flint Beat earlier this week details the plans that would involve the cooperation of the State of Michigan, the City of Flint, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and several other organizations to revitalize the district. The document lays out a multi-tiered plan that would involve building five new school buildings, fighting blight in surrounding neighborhoods, and partnering with local organizations to work with Flint students.
The MOU—a nonbinding agreement between entities—is titled Flint Education Continuum, and calls for all parties to “develop and expand framework for an education continuum in Flint which ranges from birth to college and career and to leverage federal, state and local dollars to create an exponential impact that goes beyond schools to whole neighborhood revitalization.”
The document proposes building four new elementary schools, one new high school at the site of the former Flint Central High School, and renovating two existing schools. This will serve as a “catalyst that inspires cultural change within the schools and the community to implement new protocols and best practices in education.”
The four new elementary schools are projected to cost $25 million each and will house approximately 500 students. Durant-Turri-Mott will be renovated for $20 million. One middle school that has a capacity for 1,200 students will also be selected for renovations. FCS would own and operate all new and renovated buildings.
According to the document, the MOU will be active for 10 years following completion of the buildings.
Other financial contributions include:
- A $45 million capital appropriation by the State of Michigan for the construction of a new high school.
- FCS will seek a “combination of bonding authority and federal funds” to contribute $75 million to pay for the new and renovated schools.
- The Mott Foundation will “conditionally” match the state’s appropriation as well as FCS’ secured funding with grants totaling up to $100 million.
- Once construction is complete, the Mott Foundation will supply up to $100 million over the course of 10 years to support the new schools and services.
In total, contributions from various agencies add up to $340 million.
FCS currently faces a $18 million deficit, largely due to declining enrollment and losses in funding. Since 2009, student enrollment has decreased by 70% and the district has been unable to downsize fast enough, causing severe budget problems.
For most of the elementary buildings, the amount of state aid, which is determined by a school’s student headcount, and property tax revenue is not enough to cover operation costs.
FCS is also spending $200,000 a year to operate their kitchen from Northwestern High School, which was closed to students in July 2020 after the board learned it needed $4 million in repairs to be compliant with Michigan regulations.
The district also owns 22 buildings that are sitting vacant. Board members have discussed the possibility of selling all the properties.
The Genesee Intermediate School District, Mott Community College, The Crim Fitness Foundation, The Flint & Genesee Group, Concerned Pastors for Social Action, and the City of Flint are also among the parties identified in the MOU. The organizations are expected to offer an array of support services, additional programing, staff, technology, and mentorship to FCS, according to the document.
The City will also work to eliminate blight and improve the neighborhoods around the schools and provide community policing support, according to the document.
Final approval of the MOU requires the signatures of 17 different organizations and governmental entities including Mayor of Flint Sheldon Neeley, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and the FCS Board of Education.
The document asks all parties to “work with expediency to attempt to obtain all such approvals during the next six months.”