Many in Michigan may have never heard of Chesterfield County Public Schools in Virginia.
But if Detroit Public School officials are correct, Chesterfield will soon have about the same number of students as Detroit, giving an indication of how many schools the shrinking Detroit school district will need.
School officials project by 2014 Detroit will be left with 58,570 students and plan to close about half of its 142 schools. By 2014, Detroit would be left with 72 school buildings, according to a plan put forth by Robert Bobb, the school’s emergency finance manager.
Chesterfield had 59,080 students and 64 schools in 2008-09, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education.
For 2009-10, Chesterfield had 59,728 students and 64 schools, according to Chesterfield Spokesman Tim Bullis.
Other comparable districts had similar number of schools.
For example, Aldine Independent School District in Houston had 61,526 students and 72 schools in 2008-09.
Michael Van Beek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said the school closing was natural considering Detroit’s shrinking enrollment.
Detroit Public Schools had 150,000 students in 2003-04, according to the Michigan Department of Education. DPS had 87,032 students in 2009-10.
Bobb’s plan projects that downward trend to fall to 58,570 in 2014.
“No one should be surprised by the fact that Detroit Public Schools has to close a significant number of schools because their enrollment has declined so dramatically,” Van Beek said. “None of this is to say it is easy. But it is necessary.”