Detroit to Demolish Vacant Schools

By Dakarai I. Aarons — December 07, 2009 1 min read
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Abandoned school buildings have long been a scourge on Detroit’s landscape and a beacon for crime.

Robert C. Bobb, the district’s emergency financial manager plans to change that. Bobb announced this afternoon that he will soon begin the demolition of 14 vacant schools.

Removing this blight is no cheap task—the district will spend tens of millions on this effort. Many of the buildings were not properly cleaned when they were abandoned, leaving behind textbooks and student records. In others, computers and other high-value items were left behind for thieves’ enjoyment.

About $3.1 million of that funding will come from a 1994 facilities bond. Another $30 million in bond funding from Proposal S, a $500.5 million bond approved last month by voters, will pay for the demolition of some of the larger vacant schools in that group of 14 and also for other school demolition projects to come, according to a district spokeswoman.

“Vacant schools across Detroit have been blights on the community and safety hazards for far too long,” Bobb said while announcing the effort. “Thanks to the taxpayers of Detroit for supporting Proposal S, we can now move forward with substantially changing the landscape of the city and remove these long-standing eyesores.”

The district is holding a meeting Wednesday to talk to various experts about the best way to demolish these buildings, while recycling materials and making sure environmentally-sound procedures are followed.

Check out this video I co-produced for this summer on the status of Detroit education to see images of an the abandoned Jane Cooper Elementary School, which was closed in 2007 and sold to the city of Detroit earlier this year. And for more photos, check out this slide show by photographer Stephen Voss, who took the photos we used in our video.

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.