West Bloomfield School Board Considers Closing Schools
The West Bloomfield School District Board of Education listened to a final report from Western Demographics on school enrollment and facilities utilization.
Edited: 11 a.m., Aug. 28
To reflect updated costs for transportation
Schools may close in the West Bloomfield district after the Board of Education considers recommendations suggesting its enrollment is not high enough to fill all six elementary schools.
"We have enough students to operate four elementary schools and we have six," said Shannon Bingham, of Western Demographics, Inc., who presented a school closure and redistribution plan to the board on Monday night at West Bloomfield High School.
The district had a mild decline in enrollment in recent years, which is expected to continue, according to Bingham's research. Total school utilization is 80 percent and there are 3,276 empty seats in the district, according to his research.
Bingham's research indicates that five elementary schools, out of the six that are open, are needed until the end of school year in 2014 and four are needed after.
Bruce Tobin, president of the board, said the board will wait to discuss the report and its recommendations until the next study session Sep. 6. The few people in the audience did not comment on the proposed plan.
The School Enrollment and Facilities Utilization (SEAF) report recommendations are to:
- close the Administrative and Community Services (ACS) Building in June
- close Ealy Elementary School in fall of 2013
- convert Doherty Elementary School for kindergarten through second grades and have one south end boundary in fall of 2013
- convert Sheiko Elementary School for grades third through fifth and have one south end boundary in fall of 2013
- consider closing Roosevelt Elementary in two to five years
- consider converting district middle schools to accommodate grades fifth through eighth
- relocate special education and preschool programs as necessary
Southern District Changes
The change to two elementary schools in the southern region could result in a rise in transportation costs to a total of $49,600 because students who used to walk to a neighborhood school will now have to be bused, according to SEAF committee member Stacy Brickman.
"It doesn't matter which building we close, it'll be the same," Bruce Tobin, president of the board, said about the transportation costs.
The southern part of the district will likely see the most changes if the plan is approved. Breaking from tradition, students would attend school based on their grade, rather than their addresses. One school would be for students in grades kindergarten to second grade and the other would house those in third through eighth, Bingham said.
Building Closures and Changes
Bingham also proposed adding fifth grade to the middle school.
"About 19 percent of middle schools nationwide are five through eight as opposed to six through eight," he said.
He said this would be an opportunity to reduce enrollment at the elementary schools.
"Roosevelt is our oldest building," Bingham said.
The building, one of the schools considered for closure, was built in 1920.
Ealy Elementary, also considered for closure, has the highest maintenance needs of the schools, Bingham said.
Pros and Cons
Bingham included a list of pros and cons for some of the proposed changes:
The next study session is Sep. 6 at 7 p.m. in the West Bloomfield High School Media Center. The board is expected to make its final decision on those recommendations on Sep. 24.