School Closings Michigan
Michigan is the only state that has lost population in the recent past which has prompted many school closings in Michigan. Detroit alone has had 130 school closures since 2005. In 2000 Detroit had 163,000 students and today has approximately 74,000 students. Only 141 schools remain to educate those students. Detroit is only one of the 43 districts out of the 848 districts in the state that are operating with a deficit.
- School closures have had a huge impact on teachers and school librarians. Dearborn Michigan Public Schools used to have at least a half-time librarian in each school, now there are only eight that are shared by 32 buildings. If the proposal that is in place to cut the 141 schools in Detroit to 72, it is likely at least half the teachers and librarians will also be cut. To cut expenses, many districts in Michigan have replaced librarians with paraprofessionals who call themselves librarians or media specialists but who actually have no training.
- Closures would increase class sizes, especially in high schools. With the proposed school closures class sizes in Detroit would increase to 31 students per teacher per class for K-3. In grades 4-5 it would increase to 47 students, and in grades 9-12 the class size would increase to 62. With Detroit only having one percent of its students college ready, it is unlikely that these increased class sizes would help improve these numbers. Parents that may have to relocate because of the closures are already having financial problems and it would cause undue stress on these families.
- Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit faces closure for the second year. There are 30 schools proposed to be closed in Detroit in 2011 by Robert Bobb, the emergency financial manager, but the parents are fighting back. One of the schools fighting back is the Catherine Ferguson Academy , a pilot school which serves an at-risk population. It has a 100 percent college acceptance rate in an area where only one out of three students graduate and has been called a success story. This school is unique and educates mothers as well as their children, offering things such as free child care and an on-site farm. In spite of its success and because it is costly to operate, CFA finds itself on the list to be closed for the second year in a row.
- Several special needs schools are slated for closure. There are eight schools scheduled to close by June of 2011 and another eighteen are scheduled to appear at hearings to plead their case to remain open. Critics of Bobb say that he has far too much power over the schools and instead of cutting the deficit, he has increased the debt by close to $100 million. Many of the schools Robb proposes to close serve special-needs students. On the list for closure is the only school for the deaf, a school that educates children with autism, and another one that gives high school dropouts one last chance to graduate.
- Schools are spending more money on each student than state funding provides. Schools get a specific amount from the state per student per year. Because of the decreasing student population, schools are spending far more per student than they are given. Less students does not cut the operating expense. They still need a full staff to operate the school that is geared for twice the students and the funding just is not there. Many schools would be eliminated in areas where there is no other school, and for this reason some schools were left open.
- Several schools through the state are scheduled for closure. Grand Rapids, Michigan is scheduled to close three schools and five buildings. Declining enrollment has put these schools at risk. If enrollment keeps declining, more schools will be put at risk. In Flint, Michigan, more than a half a dozen schools are slated to be closed, including one high school and five elementary schools and dozens of staff positions. Other closures are anticipated throughout Michigan.