Almost 500 state schools close from declining enrollment - impacting Michigan aid

As fewer babies are being born, local school officials have had to close 485 schools to date because of declining enrollment.  

If there are no kids in the seats, the state aid coming in school districts declines while at the same time, fixed costs for salaries and supplies, continue to increase.

"When you have all of your money coming in based on the number of kids and you have fewer kids, you have less money and most of the costs are fixed and they still went up," said Don Wotruba, executive director Michigan School Boards.

In 2010: There were 3,255 school buildings in Michigan

In 2020: There were 2,870 school buildings.

The total loss is 12% and expected to grow, while the loss of pupils hits disadvantaged communities harder in Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids and Pontiac school districts.

So far Lansing is not on that critical where 30% of the school buildings in those areas have been shuttered.

School boards are faced with the possibility of running out of money or closing schools to stay afloat. But angry parents make the finances even worse by acting out against the board, if they close the buildings.

"You close schools and those parents are upset," Wotruba said. "They could decide because they are mad, to choice out of the district, or home school or they could decide to come back and create a charter school. All of which would take more kids from the schools, causing the need for (more) closures."

Last year lawmakers padded the state aid bill with extra dollars for districts losing students, and that is expected to continue.

As the low population of babies here impacts budgets in a host of school districts.