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Michigan school district would rather close schools than accept black students from neighboring towns

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A Michigan public school district is weighing the decision to close schools due to declining enrollment, but won’t consider accepting students from neighboring towns with larger black populations.

Enrollment has been dropping for 15 years in Grosse Pointe, and the school district will present several scenarios for closing specific schools that would include the operational savings, bond savings and projected land value, reported The Detroit News.

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The district hopes to save at least $1 million a year and pump student capacity up to at least 80 percent in as many schools as possible, according to superintendent Gary Niehaus.

“We have declining enrollment, and there is a consensus that we need to reconfigure our district,” Niehaus said. “It’s a matter of getting (the information) to town hall meetings. Once we do that, it will be interesting to see if there is anything we can do better.”

The affluent school district has been losing an average of $1 million a year with each 100-student drop, which has been the yearly average, and enrollment is forecast to drop another 10 percent through in 2025 throughout southeast Michigan.

Administrators are considering the closure of elementary schools and moving fifth grade students into middle school buildings, and parents are upset about the possibility of losing their children’s school.

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“You want to preserve the nature of that neighborhood-school feeling,” said school board president Brian Summerfield. “The facility itself could need more maintenance. What we can do with it (the building) ultimately will be a part of it.”

One option the board won’t consider is Schools of Choice, which would open the district up to nearby school districts.

The Grosse Pointe School District, which is 74 percent white and 16.5 percent black, operates an enrollment eligibility investigation office and tip line to make sure students weren’t coming in from outside the district.

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The district currently includes all five Grosse Point communities, as well as Harper Woods, which is 59 percent black.

The wealthy suburbs have become more diverse in recent years, but Grosse Pointe has a median household income about three times higher than nearby Detroit, which is about 83 percent black.


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