US Littered With Empty Schools

Maintenance a drain on districts

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 12, 2013 4:10 AM CST | Updated Feb 12, 2013 6:00 AM CST

(Newser) – Across 12 major US cities, there are 327 empty school buildings simply waiting to be sold—all the while costing districts money for maintenance without bringing in tax dollars, a Pew Charitable Trusts study finds. Prospects for sale are dimmed as parents increasingly send kids to charter or private schools, and the number of for-sale buildings will only increase, Pew researchers say. Philadelphia, for instance, is set to see 37 school closings next year, the AP reports. And the Sun-Times reports that the study comes just ahead of tomorrow's release of a preliminary list of schools Chicago could close, with reports pegging the number of targets at 50.

Detroit has sold or leased 63 school buildings since 2005, but 124 remain for sale. Cleveland has sold 25 but is still trying to sell 27 others. And these figures don't account for all the empty schools—just the ones districts have put up for sale. Others they keep for potential future use. Meanwhile, with some districts desperate to get rid of the buildings, sales are bringing in a lot less than they could. In Cincinnati, for example, 11 buildings and a vacant parcel valued at $31 million sold for $3.5 million. The buildings typically sell for between $200,000 and $1 million. (Click for an even more controversial school story.)

There are hundreds of empty schools in major US cities, a report finds.   (Shutterstock)
The boarded up Sidney Miller School is seen Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010 in Detroit. A plan to shutter a quarter of Detroit's public schools will add 45 empty buildings to district properties.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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