The Detroit district had to shut down Palmer Park Preparatory School earlier this year because of poor conditions.

Repairing school facilities in Detroit would cost $500 million, report says

June 22, 2018
District facilities review says costs would soar to $1.4 billion in five years if building deficiencies are unaddressed.

Fixing substandard school facilities in Detroit district would cost $500 million, officials say.

The Detroit Free Press reports that a consultant calculated that figure after completing a review of district facilities. Officials say if the building problems go unaddressed over the next five years, the cost could skyrocket to nearly $1.4 billion 

"This is unbelievably frustrating," says Sonya Mays, chairwoman of the school board's facilities subcommittee.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says a third-party company spent months conducting the review. Representatives visited each operating school in the district and gathered information from the building principal and engineer. They also walked each school to inspect the buildings for themselves.

The result? Nearly 30 percent of the school buildings are in unsatisfactory condition. Another 20 percent are in poor condition. The remaining schools are either in good or fair condition.

Nationally, according to the report, about 5 percent of school buildings have conditions considered unsatisfactory.

"We have great discrepancy among schools as far as the quality of the schools," Vitti says.

Earlier this year, the district had to shut down Palmer Park Preparatory School because of health concerns related to a leaking roof. That roof had already forced the district to close off the second floor of the building. But some classrooms were still experiencing leaking water. The students and staff were moved to another location.

The district can't afford to make the kind of repairs that are necessary. When the Legislature approved a $615 million initiative in 2016 that addressed the district's debt, it included only $25 million to cover facility repairs.

Concerns were raised then that the amount of money was inadequate to address Detroit's deteriorating facilities.

Mays said the board will have to have a deeper discussion about what to do about its facilities. 

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