As a result of a $219 million dollar budget cut, 25 percent of the 172 Detroit, Michigan public schools will close starting in June of this year.
The loss comes from a plan to “create a leaner, smarter [Detroit Public School District] by taking into account city-wide demographic trends,” according to Robert Bobb, the emergency financial manager for Detroit’s public schools.
From 2000 to the beginning of 2008, the metropolitan Detroit area lost 150,000 jobs due to decline of the auto industry. According to The Detroit News, the number of Michigan residents leaving the state rose 25 percent between 2001 and 2007, while the number of new residents moving in fell by nearly one-third.
And to add more insult to the already injured city, the city-wide demographic data that will be acquired from the 2010 U.S. Census is expected to reveal that less than 900,000 people now populate the city. Declining enrollment, yet also the sheer expense of keeping schools open, contributes to the city’s already unstable financial profile.
While Bobb anticipates anger from parents about their children’s relocation to an open school, he says the budget cuts and new plan will actually allow for renovations, newer programs and will accommodate the increasing attendance at the schools that will remain open.
Detroit closed 35 schools three years ago and similar closings will occur in Kansas City, Missouri where 50 percent of their public schools will be closing.
Given the bruised economy, which has hit cities like Detroit particularly hard, the school closings are a somewhat expected, but nonetheless unfortunate, reality for many of the country’s struggling cities.